Teaching digital citizenship to elementary and special education students

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by Ann Kohler
Akohler@forsyth.k12.ga.us

Ann Kohler

Ann Kohler

More and more, preparation for the start of a new school year includes curriculum dedicated to good digital citizenship for our students. As the “Technology Teacher” at an elementary school this year, one of the first areas of instruction I was tasked with providing was lessons on digital citizenship and “netiquette”. In addition to the introductory curriculum, I will spend a week working with the counselors to introduce another level of lessons which go more in depth on the subject, with lessons differentiated for each grade level from K-5.

Teaching all students, beginning in kindergarten, how to not cyberbully, how to protect their personal information, and basically how to learn to live, work, and play in a digital age is now a responsibility of all teachers. Luckily, we have some incredible tools and options out there to help us.

The one website that you could use as a “one stop shop” for instruction of digital citizenship is Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org). Once on the homepage just click on the drop-down menu “For Educators”. Here you will find extensive information not just on digital citizenship but other areas too. When I opened the site today it had a listing of “Cool STEM books for kids who love science”. When you go to the Educators area and click on “Digital Citizenship” you will see a drop-down menu with extensive lessons, blogs, and distinct areas for different grade levels. For those of you who use Nearpod they even have Nearpod lessons now.

Digital Passport

Digital Passport

Digital Passport has a series of games, videos, and other activites for grades 1-7 and Digital Compass has lessons for grades 6-8. There are many tools within Common Sense Media for teachers, including short videos, games, and FAQs.

For my upcoming lessons, I am combining a lot of the sites and tools listed at these two sites:

I like to start out class with a short video, move to a discussion, and then present some sort of interactive lesson or game. Here are the lessons and games I will be using in my upcoming classes.

I also want to give a quick shout out to my friends at WordsWithFriends EDU. After over a year of beta testing and getting the bugs worked out, they have released their education version of Words With Friends. It is a Scrabble-type word game where students can play with each other. Students construct a word and “send” it to whomever they are playing with. That student then makes a word off of their word, just like in Scrabble, and sends it back. My older students always get a kick playing against me, the teacher, and trying to send me hard words. It’s a quick, fun way to have students use literacy skills while having fun. Try it for yourself at wordswithfriendsedu.com/. There will be an edWeb.net webinar on using Words With Friends EDU on Oct. 10 at 2 p.m. EST. Register here.

Ann Kohler has spent the last nine years as a special education teacher at the high school level and is now teaching technology to K-5 elementary students in Forsyth County Georgia.

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