Well, I finally completed an entire week of middle school and boy, I am tired. I am physically tired but even more so, mentally tired. This week we tackled some digital citizenship activities in both my 5th and 6th grade classrooms. Many lessons were learned, most by my student’s (hopefully) and quite a few by me.
I decided to use the Common Sense media lessons available in Nearpod to introduce my student’s to digital citizenship. My fifth graders had lessons on keywords in searching, responsibility to ourselves, our family and our community, private and personal information, and the power of words. My sixth graders explored their digital lives, scams and schemes, cyberbullying, and strategic searching. In addition to learning about these topics, we explored a new tool in Nearpod. Here are some of the lessons my students and I have learned this week.
- My students are so involved in their digital lives that many of them feel overwhelmed by the amount of time and energy it is taking up. This is not unlike the feeling that most adults that I know. Although we have very different backgrounds in our lives, we are all “slaves” to technology and children feel the stress just as much as adults.
- Sixth graders, and to some degree fifth graders, only want to learn how to hack. That’s all they ever talk about. They think hackers are heroes. It is up to me as a teacher to find some examples of “good” hacking, such as working in cyber security and working for the government, to show these kids that hacking can have a good side also.
- Real stories are the key. As I had “story times” in the middle of my lessons, much to their chagrin, they were enthralled by stories of cyberbullying that my own children have been a part of and how my “identity” through my credit card number was recently stolen. They asked great questions all week, and I was very impressed by the amount of critical thinking that some of them were doing during our discussions. This part of my day felt a lot like my parenting life. I was able to pour into these kids some morals and values in regards to technology. Now, to see if they stick.
- All kids are not created equal. Some of my students have pretty much free rein to go to any website they choose. They can watch whatever they want on YouTube with little to know supervision. There are a few parents that are keeping a much tighter rein on their kids (closer to my own heart). One student told me the reason she has a “flip” phone is to keep her from being overwhelmed or tempted by all the bad influences out in our technology driven world. By the way, I love that mom! I think that you have to supervise your children. If we aren’t telling our kids about technology, then no one is.
- I am really enjoying pouring myself into these older kids. Yes, I miss my kinder babies. So much! But the conversations, and confrontations in some cases, that I am able to have with these middle schoolers are so mind-boggling. I feel like this is where I am meant to be, to make a difference with these kiddos.
Next week, we will continue our exploration of digital citizenship. I will also further explore what I am going to do with my News Club. Our school encourages kids to do something they are interested in, so every Wednesday, for about the last half hour, they get to go to a club of their choosing and do something they are interested in. My news club will be exploring green screen technology and I have no idea exactly what we will do from week to week. I am excited to see what we can come up with though!