Promoting and Modeling Digital Citizenship

ISTE Standard 4 for teachers addresses digital citizenship, both promoting and modeling it. In this standard, teachers should understand issues that come with a digital culture, modeling legal and ethical behavior in their practice. This also means teachers should be modeling and encouraging safe, legal, and ethical use of technology and digital information; advocating for and providing strategies to help bridge the digital divide; provide opportunities for students to engage with other cultures through technology to develop cultural understanding; and promote digital etiquette when having social interactions using technology.

E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. This means teachers should be exhibiting knowledge of professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities and policies. This standard ties in very well with ISTE standard 4, which also requires teachers to teach and model safe, legal, and ethical behavior. To me, this means that teachers are both encouraging students to become ethical digital citizens (as well as ethical people) while also showing that they follow the same code of conduct themselves.

After reading the articles this week, plus some supplemental research, I realized that teaching digital citizenship is a much larger task than I originally thought. There are many topics that fall under the category of “digital citizenship” as well as many ways to teach them. The question I asked for this week was a broader look at digital citizenship and how I can help students practice responsible use of the internet and technology they come into contact with, in and out of school.

As a teacher, how can I encourage students to become digital citizens, who can create, read critically, and use online content or forums in a responsible and respectful manner?

With a rapidly-changing digital world, it can be difficult for digital citizenship to be taught effectively. It’s a large topic, and needs to be taught explicitly so students understand the language and law involved. It should also be taught implicitly, so students understand how digital citizenship looks in action, not just in words. As a teacher, it is my job to “effectively research technology trends, monitor the uses of technology in [my] school or district…and empower student centered learning to create vibrant, exciting learning projects” (Lindsay and Davis, 2010).

My search for the best methods for teaching digital citizenship in class led me to two possible resources, which give me ideas for lesson plans and methods for teachers to become model digital citizens themselves. One resource is an Edutopia Resource Round-Up that was posted for digital citizenship week in 2013. Not only does this resource have ideas for lessons, it also leads to articles to further educate myself in the necessity of teaching digital citizenship, allowing me to develop my educational practice. Some of the links discuss teachers using social media to communicate with each other, giving them a forum for discussion and reflection that involves teachers from around the country. My other resource from Common Sense Education is a variety of useful lesson plans and ideas for teaching digital citizenship. These will be useful to me as I develop my own practice.

Another resource I found useful was shared to our Google+ community by Colleen Lawler, from the Digital Citizenship homepage. This website discusses the nine elements of digital citizenship, provides articles for teacher development, and provides more resources to read about teaching digital citizenship and using technology ethically in class. As a teacher, it will be important for me to pay attention to trends in technology and ways they can be used in my classroom, and I will need to be acutely aware of the changes that occur. Part of this will be to research new ideas and resources, such as the ones I have shared, and collaborate with my peers for evaluation and reflection. In this way, I can effectively use technology to improve my own practices, while also using valuable resources to teach my students.

Lindsay, J., Davis, V. (2010). Navigate the digital rapids. Learning and Leading with Technology, (37)6, pp12-15. Retrieved from


How practical are multiple intelligence activities?

P2 – Practice differentiated instruction. To me, this means that teachers are applying their knowledge of different stages of development and learning, and theories on language acquisition and multiple intelligences to a variety of content areas to allow for broader student understanding. One way to accomplish this is by understanding the value of multiple intelligence activities within classroom instruction. According to Howard Gardner, the “Father of Multiple Intelligences” (Edwards and Gardner, 2009), students possess “different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways.” Our current system has us trying to assess and teach every student in the same (or similar) way, and it is progressing more toward this with the arrival of the Common Core, though admittedly the Common Core is designed with the idea that students learn at their own pace in mind. Gardner’s multiple intelligences go to show that teaching in this manner is not practical or efficient, and in the end doesn’t help either the students or society. Because students learn in so many distinctive ways, “the broad spectrum of students—and perhaps the society as a whole—would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a number of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means” (Edwards and Gardner, 2009). Take, for example, Gillian Lynne, ballerina and choreographer for Cats and Phantom of the Opera. As a child she was “hopeless in school” and was told she had a learning disorder (Robinson, 2006). Her mother took her to a specialist, who asked a lot of questions, then told Gillian he needed to speak with her mother out in the hall. They left the room, and as they left, he turned the radio on. As soon as they were gone, Gillian was on her feet, moving to the music. The specialist turned to her mother and said “Gillian doesn’t have a learning disorder. She’s a dancer” (Robinson, 2006). Gillian’s success speaks loudly to the effect being given the opportunity to express herself in a way that was familiar to her rather than being put on medication and stuffed back into an uncompromising classroom. I think that in any given classroom, it is imperative to understand that any of the students could be another Gillian Lynne, or simply in need of a different way of knowing things. In the classrooms I tutor, I see every day that some students work better with pictures and others need the systematic process to follow, and still others are able to intuit what they need. This kind of knowledge will be important as I start to form my own classroom and methods for teaching and assessment. In the future, I will need to be aware of not only Gardner’s theory, but many others that all have value and will affect the learning environment.

Edwards, O. (Interviewer) and Gardner, H. (Interviewee). (2009). Interview with the father of multiple intelligences [interview transcript]. Retrieved from

Robinson, K. (2006, February). How schools kill creativity. Retrieved from:

Incorporating Exercise in the Classroom to Personalize a Curriculum

Evidence for Reflection

Figure 1: Instruction Inquiry segment of a lesson plan for EDU 6132, Learners in Context

P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. This is an important HOPE principle to me, because it involves personalizing a curriculum that is based in standards to each student, and finding what works best for your class. In particular, it means manipulating tasks so that students are interested, engaged, and working in a way that helps them to be their best. One method for personalizing a potentially boring math lesson to make it more engaging is to get the students out of their seats and moving around the floor. Figure 1 shows an example of a lesson plan I wrote for EDU 6142, Learners in Context, that demonstrates this, turning a Common Core standard on multiplication equations and arrays into a movement activity.According to Medina (2008), “brain-activation studies show that children and adolescents who are fit allocate more cognitive resources to a task and do so for longer periods of time.” They also perform better at cognitive tasks when engaged in activities that increased the flow of oxygen to their brain (Medina, 2008). This means that if teachers were to incorporate more movement activities into everyday lessons (or even, as Medina suggests, set up treadmills and stationary bikes at desks) then in general, students would be more likely to pay attention and have higher self-esteem, and less likely to be disruptive, feel depression or anxiety (Medina, 2008). In Figure 1, the lesson has students moving about the room to create arrays with their bodies, and asks them to count the factors and products together as a class. It also allows for extra students in the group to have a responsibility. This can be modified to include students who can’t or won’t participate, or don’t do well packed into a large group of busy students. Rather than be a part of the array, these students can help by organizing others, counting members of the array, and writing equations on the board. This lesson plan allows me to take into account the individual needs of students while at the same time incorporating an activity that will engage most students in a way that will help them remember the lesson. In the future, more specific planning for students in my class will be needed as I gather information about their learning styles.

Medina, J. (2014). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Model Digital-Age Work and Learning

In the ISTE standard 3 for teachers, it is important for teachers to “exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society” (ISTE, 2015). In this standard, teachers need to be able to demonstrate fluency in technology systems and use that fluency in the transfer to new situations, collaborate with peers, parents, and community members with digital tools, and communicate relevant information using technology, (ISTE, 2015). The fourth part of the ISTE standard talks about using digital tools for finding, analyzing, and using information resources to support research and learning, and this is what I chose to focus on this week. For this standard, my guiding question was:

In an increasingly technology-rich world, how can I use common digital tools for collaboration between community members, teachers, parents, and students so that student learning is enriched with local and global resources?

During this course, I have been very interested in how I can incorporate technology into my classroom without putting an enormous strain on some students while making it much easier for others (for example, with the digital divide as a big factor). There is evidence to suggest that in many cases, students may not have access to computers but they do have access to smartphones and the internet (Goodman, 2013). So for my question about ISTE standard 3, I wanted to find something that was accessible by more people, allowed for communication, and also enriched student learning in an impactful way.

My solution was a tool that many people don’t think of as very educative: Skype. Largely used for communicating, Skype doesn’t appear to be very useful to a classroom at first glance. However, as a member of my learning circle suggested, there are many useful ways to incorporate Skype beyond what I was imagining, making it a wonderful tool for collaboration, connection, and learning (Marshal, 2015). One of the ideas I liked best from this resource was that parent-teacher conferences could be held via Skype. Although this may not be possible or practical, it gave me the thought that rather than worry about parents getting emails or newsletters, if I needed to speak directly with a parent, I have another outlet that may be easier and more personal than a note or phone call.

Skype can also be used to enrich student learning. In a study on transferring familiarity with new technologies to educational environments (Kumar & Vigul, 2011), one preservice teacher commented on online videos used in classes “to see real examples of teachers teaching in real classrooms using different methods being talked about. While it’s always an option to read about teaching and talk about teaching, the videos provide a real life example to see implementation of practice.” This same thought can be transferred to much younger students, who are learning about local or global topics. If a class is having a unit on tectonic plates, then what an amazing way to demonstrate the power of the earth’s movements by contacting a tour company in Iceland to take you on a “field trip” to Thingvellir and Silfra, places where the diverging North American and European tectonic plates are visible from the surface. Not only do they get to see what it’s like, but they can interact with their field guide and ask questions, share what they know, and make connections between their learning and a place halfway across the world. In addition, Skype can be used to connect two classrooms. In my classroom, I plan to have “pen pals”, except I would like to use the practice as a way to get my students to practice typing. I can enrich their experience by including occasional Skype calls with the classroom we write to, allowing students to experience what school is like in other parts of the world. One concern with this is the time differences, making it impossible to have conversations with some regions, but I feel that the benefits of speaking even to a classroom across the country can greatly improve student communication and learning.

Though not a tool for everyday communication between parents, teachers, students, and colleagues, Skype is a wonderful addition for enriching student learning and experience. It allows for collaboration between classrooms and teachers, offers an alternative way of communication that may be more personal for some parents, ensures the teacher is staying current with communication technologies, and allows for potential virtual field trips and visitors to enhance learning on a topic.

Goodman, J.  18 August, 2013. The digital divide is still leaving Americans behind. Retrieved from

ISTE (2015). ISTE standards: Teachers. Retrieved from:

Kumar, S., Vigil, K., (2011). The net generation as preservice teachers: Transferring familiarity with new technologies to educational environments. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27(4), 144 – 153.

Marshal, J. (7 February, 2015). ISTE Standard 3. [Comment 3 on Meghan Welsh]. Message posted to:

Preparing Democratic Students

H5 – Honor student potential for roles in the greater society.
Teacher candidates prepare students to be responsible citizens for an environmentally sustainable, globally interconnected, and diverse society.

To me, this means that teachers are providing opportunities for students to become democratic, creative, accepting individuals who are prepared to use their skills in contribution to society, despite what that society may look like in 10 or 15 years. Students don’t just learn to be democratic on their own. If we teach all students in a box, then release them after fourteen years of schooling into the public, can we expect these students to have the skills they need for cooperating with society, either  locally or nationally (or internationally)? The answer is probably not, though of course it may widely vary depending on the student in question. Instead, what schools should be aiming for is developing “ideal citizens who could live in and enhance their society, who could fulfill themselves in and through it, and who would even e able to help create and revise it” (Joyce, Weil, Calhoun, 2015). In this, we need democratic problem-solvers, or people who can work together to come up with a solution to any given problem, regardless of its type or complexity.

In Classroom Instruction that Works, Dean, et al. (2012) discusses how “the best companies are the best collaborators.” In the real world, those who succeed are those who can work with others to come to the best solution. This is what we want to lead our students to. One possible method to achieving this is by using cooperative learning in the classroom. By grouping students together to use their individual talents to accomplish a learning task, not only are we giving each student a chance to shine, but we are also fostering a sense of responsibility and accountability to other members of the group while also encouraging students to work together in a productive and meaningful way. It provides ways for students to “interact in ways that enhance and deepen their learning” (Dean, et al., 2012), and that will push them toward using principles of democracy in their problem-solving. Cooperative learning also allows students to be more engaged with one another, and lets them experience the information they are gathering more. In the example of Mr. Washington’s social studies unit, instead of having students read a chapter and discuss it, he assigned a role to each member of a group of three: one student would read aloud, one student would take notes, and one student would ask a list of questions at the end. During this process, students could ask questions and work through things they don’t understand together (Dean, et al., 2012). This exercise led to a more in-depth discussion and gave students a toolkit that they will use for the rest of their lives.

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Denver, CO: McRel.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching. Boston, MA: Pearson.

The Practical Use of Advance Organizers

Advance organizers, a concept formed by Ausubel (1978), give students a toolkit to organize new, incoming knowledge. By directing attention to what is important before a lesson, students know what to focus on during the lesson. Ausubel (1978) also describes relating new learning to old learning, such as in the example of the students in the art gallery described in Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015).

Though it may seem more reasonable to focus on what students enjoyed most about a lesson, it is also important to focus on what is important about a lesson when using advance organizers (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, Stone, 2012). In order to use advance organizers, it is important to consider both student interest as well as key points from a prior lesson you wish to expand on.

I have used advance organizers before without realizing it. While teaching preschool, often I would introduce a unit by reading a story related to the theme (narrative advance organizer) or with a graphic advance organizer where I explain the lesson topics and goals (often KWL charts). These applications are useful for preschool, in particular, but also for my future elementary classroom as well. KWL charts (what we know, what we want to know, and what we learned—to be completed after the unit) are a good way to introduce kids to a topic, get them to think about the topic, and then later revisit the topic to connect their learning with what they discussed at the beginning of the unit.

The other two advance organizers discussed by Dean, et al. (2012) are skimming and expository advance organizers. I can see the advantages to using either one. An expository advance organizer might be more beneficial to older students. I can give them key points before a unit, which they can then refer back to as needed. This method is used by one of the teachers I work with while tutoring. In his class of 8th graders, he started off his latest unit of scatter plots by having them explore a website called on iPads, which shows a large variety of data from the past 200 years for all countries. Not only did this spark their interest, but he asked them questions about the website they were looking that walked them through key phrases like “correlation”, “positive trend”, or “weak trend”. Though I will be teaching elementary students, I think this is something I could adapt to my own grade level. The other advance organizer I haven’t used is using skimming. Students can go over a chapter briefly to get a general overview of what it contains, then I can ask students to describe what they think it is about, and have them make inferences about it. I’d never thought that skimming might be so useful, but I think that when I have a classroom I will try it. I think it is a good way to get kids to make predictions and really think about what they will be learning before it occurs, and will also help to keep their interest longer.

Ausubel, D., et al. (1978). Instructional materials. Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View. New York, NY: Holt McDougal.

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Researc-hbased strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Students Taking Charge of Their Learning

ISTE Standard 2 for teachers addresses designing and developing digital-age learning experiences and assessments. It focuses on customizing learning activities, using multiple and varied assessments, learning experiences that incorporate digital resources to promote learning and creativity, and environments that enable students to pursue their individual curiosities (ISTE, 2015). For this standard, I focused a lot on customizing education for each student as well as letting students become active participants in their own educational goals, and asked this question:

What technological resources are available to me to incorporate into my classroom that elementary students can use to become individual or collaborative producers of knowledge of their own choosing, including topic, project type, and form of assessment?

Initially, my question involved mostly just personalizing education for each student. I did some research on ways to incorporate this into my classroom, including project-based-learning (PBL), and a beta program called Knewton. However, after reading the articles for the standard this unit, I became more interested in how I could help my students become knowledge producers rather than knowledge consumers (Porter, 2010). I had a few ideas, but the one I thought fitted my question more was an idea I got from the Orlando (2011) article on using Wikipedia in the classroom. Though I didn’t necessarily want to use Wikipedia specifically, I really liked the concept of having students publish something on a topic of their choice, which people can then read. For younger students, I thought it would be more appropriate for them to have a more personalized class wiki, and so for my resource I chose Wikispaces.


In my future classroom, I would like to have my students access our class wiki on a regular basis. They would be able to write or create digital projects and post these within the wiki, and as a teacher I would also have access to each of their projects. I would also give choices on how students would like to complete certain projects, and also how they would like to be assessed. This way, they can use the knowledge they have to create their own goals, and they also were able to choose their own form of learning so they can discover what works best for them. Obviously, if something wasn’t working well for a student, then we would have to discuss a new method, but I think that giving students the choice in the first place allows them to feel more in control. A member of my learning circle, Jack, provided me with some interesting ideas on where to look for ideas about what to do with Wikis. I understand a little bit about how I could use them, but this is definitely a resource I need to explore a bit more. There are lots of different ways to use Wikis in the class, and I am excited to try them out!

ISTE (2015). ISTE standards: Teachers. Retrieved from

Orlando, J. (2011). Wikipedia in the Classroom: Tips for effective use. Teaching with Technology: Tools and strategies to improve student learning. Retrieved from

Porter, B. (2010). Where’s the beef? Adding rigor to student digital products. Learning and Leading with Technology. Retrieved from