Reflecting On My Learning Journey In EC&I832..What Is My Role Now?

New media literacy

Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight cc

These last few months I have been on a wonderful learning journey while completing my EC&I832 Media Literacy class.  If someone could look into my brain right now they would be able to see that it has a large amount of tabs open at this moment!!!  Where do I even begin??  How can I showcase all the knowledge that I have gained over this past semester while being a part of an amazing network learning community?  First of all Katia and Alec helped set up a fantastic environment for myself and my classmates to learn in.  Reflecting on the structure of our class I can make a lot of connections to the readings and videos I have watched while learning about Rhizomatic Learning.  Rhizomatic Learning allows for students to decide on the goal instead of the instructor or teacher giving the students the learning goals or outcomes.  Dave Cormier also suggests that “Rhizomatic Learning is a means by which learners develop problem-solving skills for complex domains” and that “the community is the curriculum.”  For all of our assignments we were given choices so we could decide on the project that we were interested in and what we wanted to continue to learn more about.  Our class did drive a lot of the curriculum as we shared resources, articles, and videos through blogging, tweeting, and sharing on our Google Plus community that went along with topics that we were learning about.

In my previous post I explored similarities between Rhizomatic Learning and the Reggio Emilia Approach as well.  Both approaches to learning allows for students to explore their interests, understand the world around them, and it allows each student to take control of his or her learning.  My classmates and I were able to create our own personal learning environments just like the girl did in the My PLE video we watched in class.  I was able to interact with my classmates using tools like Google+, Zoom, Twitter, and blogging platforms.  During this journey I began to wonder…How can I structure my own classroom so my grade two student’s are able to connect and learn from their classmates and people outside of our classroom?  What is my role now as an educator after learning about media literacy and digital citizenship?  How will I teach my students about digital citizenship and how does it fit into the grade two curriculum?

 I sat staring at my computer wondering how to begin to answer my questions so I decided to explore my classmates blog posts to spark my direction.  Branelle’s latest blog post Initiate, Inform, Inspire…ignited the spark that I needed.  She wrote a very thoughtful piece and I really liked the way she formatted her reflection.  Branelle’s piece inspired me to organize my thoughts using headings and at the end I am going to make connections to the Reggio Emilia fundamental principles.  Many aspects of those principles go along with my teaching philosophy and I believe those principles connect to teaching my students about digital identity, digital citizenship while modeling to my students on how to be good digital citizens. First I need to educate!

I need to educate my colleagues:

I believe teachers need to start planning differently for our 21st century learners in our classroom.  But, first teachers need to begin to understand how technology is shaping and changing the way our students learn and communicate with other.  I have come across many teachers who say all of the texting, tweeting, and participating on devices in the different spaces is effecting their students literacy skills in a negative way. Now I can direct those teachers to listen David Crystal’s message in Texts and Tweets: myths and realties’ as  he made valid points in showcasing that technology is not causing a decline in our student’s literacy.  Students need to be literate to text people and to create Tweets or create posts on other forms of social media.  Many adults are fast to criticize how youth are constantly texting or posting on different forms of social media, but with all the daily practice their reading and writing skills are improving as they interact with each other by using the different tools. It can also lead our students to become more creative!  Students become motivated when they are able to use their devices to interact with others.  Educators could implement bring your own device to school (BYOD) to provide new learning opportunities for students.  But, they must have some prior knowledge about technology and how to effectively use technology in the classroom to promote learning opportunities.

digital footprint with words

Photo Credit: Chris Swift via Compfight cc

It is important for educators to get to know their students!  Some people think our students are “digital natives” as they are a group of people who were born and are growing up along side technology.  They have an familiarity of the technology and can speak the digital language where as many adults are “digital immigrants” as they were not born into the digital world.  But, later in life many “digital immigrants” have become fascinated by and adopted many aspects of technology.  However, do “digital natives” exist?  Educators need to understand that our students may have grown up with technology and can navigate around the different devices better than many adults, but do they understand all of messages and media that they are exposed to daily?  Do students know how to be critical of what they are viewing messages and advertisements or when they are interacting with others online in the different spaces?  Are students interacting with others online in a positive way?  I prefer David White’s continuum of people being visitors and residents online instead of classifying people as “digital native” and “digital immigrants”.  I have encouraged fellow colleagues to explore this continuum and understand the difference between people being digital visitors and digital residents.  Digital visitors may go online and search for a specific topic, book a holiday or pay bills and then goes back offline again.  Visitors are invisible as they do not leave any social traces online when interacting on the web in those spaces.  While a resident leaves their mark and identity through blogging, commenting, posting videos, posting pictures, and/or posting other forms of written work in a series of places or spaces online.  Residents live a portion of their lives out online.  They choose to go online to be present with others and will leave a social trace and footprint.  Teachers need to understand how footprints can effect people’s identity in a positive or negative way.  Therefore, teacher’s need to become educated about how to be a good digital citizen and what that means so they can be a good model to their students.  Teachers also need to learn what digital citizenship is and why it is important to teach it in the classroom so they can help raise students to be good digital citizens.


Photo Credit: dallas_isd via Compfight cc

I see one of my roles is spreading the message that digital citizenship shares many of the same “values we teach students to observe in the offline world: obey the law, have respect for others, act civilly and sensibly.”  I think teachers need to understand how concepts from digital citizenship lessons are very similar to many of the other social skills and outcomes that we are already teaching in our classrooms.  In my classroom we talk about responsibility, respect, and safety throughout the whole year so it opens to door to teach all the different aspects of digital citizenship so I can model and teach my students how to be good citizens.  Mary Beth Hertz wrote a fantastic article called Teaching Digital Citizenship in the Elementary Classroom.  I have had discussions with people and many told me that they believe digital citizenship should be introduced when students are preteens or teenagers, but I think that too late.  I believe students in the early elementary grades need to learn the importance of being a good citizen because they are using technology and interacting with others online.  I have also already had some colleagues say that they do not know where to begin to teach digital citizenship while others say they do not have time to teach it because they have other curriculum documents and outcomes to cover.  I have already shown some of my colleagues websites and documents such as Digital Citizenship Education in Schools, Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence, the Government of Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve to help give them direction and knowledge in how to teach digital citizenship in the classroom.

I know I will also share other resources, articles, and videos that I have found and what my EC&I classmates and my PLN (Professional Learning Network) have shared with me so I can continue to spread awareness of teaching digital citizenship to all of our students from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve.  I have also been telling personal stories about my journey and how I have been able to cover many other grade two outcomes while I have been teaching digital citizenship lessons.  For example, when I wanted to teach my students a lesson about Digital Literacy I used a lesson from the Commons Sense first unit.  While my students learned about digital literacy I was also able to cover outcomes from ELA, Arts Education, health, and science when my students went on an online field trip!  I will also share my integrated unit plans that I have been creating for my major digital project. (I will be posting my final project soon!)  I think once educators begin to gain knowledge and more people begin to teach digital identity and citizenship that they will be able to use each other as support and spring board ideas off of each other.  I believe collaboration is essential to education!

“Alone we are smart but together we are brilliant.  We can use the collective wisdom to do great things when we are connected.” -Steven W. Anderson


I need to educate my student’s parents:

As Jenn discussed in her post and reflection “it takes a village to raise a child.”  Parents, guardians, and teachers need to work together to insure children and youth are being educated in how to stay safe online, leave a positive footprint online, and be a good citizen off and online.  I think many parents do not realize that they have created their child’s digital footprint from posting pictures and sharing messages about their pregnancy and the birth of their child.   Parents need to be mindful of what information they share about their child as every post begins to create their child’s digital identity.  Many children have personal information shared about them when they are born in the different social media spaces.  Often after the birth of their child parents and family members share the new born baby’s name, birthdate, and measurements along with a photo creating a digital footprint.

Parents need to also be positive influences for their children and model how to be a good citizen.  They need to model how to have proper etiquette and how to live a healthy life style while using technology.  Below is the results of a survey where families with children and youth from ages eight to thirteen took part in that had “a particular focus on the way that smartphones are changing the relationship between parents and their kids.” In the survey they asked, “how smartphones are shaping the habits of parents and kids, alike—and how those habits make the rest of the family feel.”  Below is a picture of the results from the survey:

Image Taken from the Article: Welcome to the AVG Digital Diaries 2015

 I believe the results would change a lot if parents, guardians, and trusted adults modeled to children on proper etiquette when using devices.  It is important to be present with the people you are spending time with and appreciating each others company.  They can also be good role models by having an open dialogue with their children and conversations about going online safely when they are using all the different devices.  However, I know many parents want to but are not sure what to say or how to approach the conversation.  I see my role as an educator to share resources with my student’s parents so they are more knowledgeable about digital identity, online safety, and digital citizenship.  I have come across some awesome story books that parents can read online together with their child  and books that they can order or purchase to read on an iPad or tablet.  I also want to start sharing the family tip sheets that go along with the Common Sense online lessons and sharing with them some helpful websites that they can go on.

Another goal is to work along with parents promoting positive body image and the importance of having positive self-esteem.  After watching the Sext Up KIDS documentary I believe more than ever we need to me more mindful of all the media and messages that our children and youth are exposed to.  We need to teach our children and youth to be critical of what they are viewing just as Dove demonstrates in a video that with some images, all is not what it seems.  As I mentioned earlier children look up to their parents as role models and this short video showcases that:

The Common Media website is another fantastic resource to share as it has some great articles and videos for parents view and read about topics that are relevant today.  In an short article How can media affect kids’ body image, reminds us that “It’s also important to remember that kids today not only are consumers of media but also are active creators.”  Children and youth have a lot of fun uploading pictures of themselves and their friends on all the different social media spaces, but they need to be reminded how to stay safe.  It is scary to hear that some youth are sending sexual pictures of themselves and how those pictures are being shared with others without their consent.  In the Sext Up Kids documentary the girls discussed how that one mistake of sharing their photo has led them to have to face peers and other people calling them names, being humiliated online and in person as well as being publicly shamed.  I hope by having open conversations that maybe children and youth with think before they post or share pictures online!

Children and youth matter!  Let’s model and promote a positive body image and digital identity!


Most importantly I need to educate my students:

Sherry Turkle studies technology and people’s plugged in lives. In the Connected, but alone TEDTalk she discussed and found that the devices being used are so powerful “that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are.”  In Media Literacy James Potter wrote how “our culture is saturated with media messages” (p. 3).  Even though my students are young they need to begin to learn how to view all the different media messages that they are exposed on a daily basis and learn how to think critically about the messages.  I want to have open conversations with my students so they can understand the differences between what is real and what is fantasy.  Now when I plan lessons I want to remember the articles I have read that Mike Ribble wrote and make sure I covering all the nine elements of digital citizenship.

When exploring for resources I came across an article where Mary Beth Hertz discussed “each year I spend at least a month reviewing digital citizenship and internet safety with all my classes.”  That think that is it wonderful that she teaches digital citizenship to her students, but I believe that digital citizenship lessons should taught throughout the entire year.  It should not just consist of teaching students a few lessons about digital citizenship, safety, identity, and then checking it off of the to do list of concepts to teach.  Digital citizenship is complex as there are so many different areas and elements that can be and need to be focused on.  I am able educate my students by using fantastic resources such as Digital Citizenship Education in Schools, Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence, the Government of Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve.  All of these resources have helped given me direction in what I need to cover when teaching my students how to be good citizens.

blog image

Photo Credit: preciouskidsgreatparents via Compfight cc

For my major digital project I have been following and using the lessons that Common Sense have created.  I have been sharing my journey on my blog while I have been busy creating integrated lesson plans to showcase what grade two outcomes I can cover while teaching digital citizenship.  I encourage you to read my reflections and let me know what you think!  (Soon my lessons will be posted on my blog too!!) My students have also been blogging about their experiences on our classroom blog and on their individual blogs.  Through blogging they get the opportunity to put many of the concepts we learn about digital citizenship to practice.  It gives them a platform for their voices to be heard and be proud of all their learning  they have accomplished.  I like how we can build a positive community and learn how to communicate safely online with others.  Through blogging by using the blog I am beginning to instill values and have students understand that their online life is permanent as a tattoo.  I am hoping that I can teach powerful life lessons to my students when they are young so they do not have to go through the online shaming that Justine Sacco has inquired from one Tweet she posted on Twitter.  I know that by teaching digital citizenship lessons and following the Reggio Emilia principles that I can promote my grade two students to become positive citizens:

“Children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others” and “children are communicators.”

In my grade two classroom I teach my students social skills while students are learning and exploring the topics that are in the Saskatchewan Curriculum.  In Hertz’s article she discusses how teachers educate their students not to talk to strangers, what to do if someone is hurting your feelings or when you feel threatened and the golden rule “treat people the way you want to be treated.”  She points out, “when was the last time you talked to your students about how to use good manners when leaving a comment on a blog post? When was the last time you and your students discussed what to do if someone is harassing you online or wants to meet you in person?”  Through my lessons my students are learning how to become thoughtful when communicating with others and learning what to do when they are uncomfortable during any situation.

“The adult is a mentor and guide.”

Bandura, says that “behavior is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning” (McLeod, 2011).  In my classroom I will mentor and guide my students in how to be good citizens when interacting with people face to face and when they are online everyday.  I will provide learning opportunities for my students so they can explore, play, expand on their knowledge and grow as individuals!

“An emphasis on documenting children’s thoughts.”

Through blogging my students are able to share their learning with their classmates and people who read our blog online.  They can make their work visible, share their thoughts, and showcase their learning in a variety of ways.  It also provides them with an opportunity to reflect on their learning and they can see their growth.  The blogs can become digital portfolios showcasing their learning journey!

Most importantly-“Children are capable of constructing their own learning.”

There are some people who overlook what a child in the early years is capable of.  All children are competent learners! Just because they are young does not mean they can not learn and comprehend important lessons.  My students everyday surprise me with how knowledgeable they are and I learn a lot from each of my students every day.

I am looking forward to this next chapter in my career and continuing to learn more about digital citizenship!  I am excited to begin my journey promoting and educating my colleagues, my students, and their parents.


I believe together…



Photo Credit: weconomy book via Compfight cc

Can Make A Difference!



1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Let’s Google It? | Justine Stephanson's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s