Getting started on this project was probably the roughest part of this final but once I started; I really had to reign myself in because I wanted to do so much… maybe even too much, but I was so excited to put everything that I’ve been learning into action! After getting over the initial hump of worrying about changing a unit of inquiry (that would affect an entire grade etc.) I decided to revise the digital citizenship unit from common sense media. This unit would be the most relevant to my position and is something that my school and students need. My initial concerns when redesigning this unit were that they were originally standalone lessons that didn’t connect to anything else in the class and didn’t allow students the opportunity for authentic practice. So when I designed this unit, I tried to give students the opportunity to practice digital citizenship skills in real-time and in real life. After collaborating with the classroom teacher, we were worried that we were tackling too much in this one unit and within the time frame and so I’ve made some of those lessons extension lessons. Ideally, I would extend the other skills and standards about digital citizenship lessons within other units. That was the beauty of having them embedded into the learning that’s happening in the classroom; there is no time limit as these skills cut across all transdisciplinary themes.
After deciding that I wouldn’t be revising a unit of inquiry and that I would be embedding the digital citizenship unit within another unit, I thought the best opportunity would be having students create something as part of their summative. The central idea of the unit is “consumer choices make a difference for the environment” and tackles the concepts of consumption, resources, and sustainability. I wanted students to create a digital presentation about the consumer item, the issues surrounding this item and what actions consumers can take to address the issues. For example, students could discuss the use of paper towels and what issues arise from our consumption of paper towels and what can people do instead of using paper towels, etc. It is during the process of creating and sharing the digital presentation that the opportunities for authentic practice and learning about digital citizenship can take place. They would work in collaborative groups to create a digital presentation, give feedback and revise their work and then post their digital presentation on the classroom Seesaw blog.
I started planning by thinking of the areas and standards that I wanted to incorporate into the design of my unit:
- Positive Online Interactions
- Respecting Intellectual Property
- Feedback and Revision Process
I struggled with which ISTE standards I wanted to focus on. I wanted to incorporate standard 2a about digital identity but was worried about time. Students were already posting on Seesaw to their families so I decided that I would teach this lesson now, before the unit as they already have opportunities to practice and have a real-world connection. When they post their digital presentation on seesaw blogs, that will give them another great opportunity to consider their digital footprint. I wanted to use this unit to focus on other aspects of digital citizenship. I chose to focus on ISTE standard 2b which focuses on positive, safe, and legal interactions online and 2c which focuses on demonstrating their understanding of how to respect the use and sharing of intellectual property. I also chose the ISTE standard 1c about feedback and 3d about constructing knowledge. The combination of various ISTE standards allows a more enhanced experience for students. Students can see the whole picture of a problem and tackle it in a way that makes sense in the real world. In the real world, people share issues they are passionate about through the use of technology and social media. Students won’t just learn about the content in the context of their class and as standalone issues – they are able to share it out to the world and connect because issues about sustainability affect everyone.
A big way that my COETAIL journey is reflected in this unit is the fact that I’m trying to incorporate ALL THE THINGS and tackling it from different angles! There’s feedback, revisions, collaboration, creativity, agency, frameworks – and none of that is about the content! My lessons were more focused on the process rather than the end product because it is through the process that students can demonstrate 21st-Century skills. When creating the learning activities, I looked through the framework to make sure that I wasn’t just merely substituting but transforming or redefining my activities. Another area that was really influential for me was the feedback and revision cycle. In a time where teachers never seem to have enough time, that was the area that I could easily cut out of a plan but it’s an empowering part of the learning process for students. After talking with the classroom teacher, we both agreed that this was a skill that could be used throughout all of their learning and did not just pertain to technology and digital citizenship. She wanted to start this right away and so we agreed to teach this before the start of the unit but I included the technology aspect for feedback and built in time for the feedback and revision cycle to take place during the unit.
I hope the feedback/revision cycle allows students to become more vulnerable and empathetic to each other. Opening themselves to the feedback process requires them to tread a fine line between being open and honest and being aware of their words. If they are able to translate this through their online interactions then they have understood these concepts (and not on a surface level). I included digital citizen as a rubric criterion so students could manage their learning and notice if they were understanding the concepts. However, digital citizenship skills aren’t skills that can be ticked off one time. It is a skill students need to notice and grow over time. For this unit though, students should consider where they are getting their images, have they given credit where credit is due, and when using technology to give feedback, did they include something positive? Working with students to create the success criteria together will give agency and awareness in their learning journey. After giving feedback and After that they can continue to grow and learn and consider the other aspects of digital citizenship such as being ethical online, privacy, and their digital footprint.