Promoting Digital Citizenship and SEL All Year Long
In October, we celebrate Digital Citizenship Week; but of course, this topic should be an ongoing focus throughout the entire year. In this day and age, technology is a necessary part of our lives. Especially in light of the remote learning and social distancing of the past few years, students have become more reliant on technology than ever. Because of this, it is essential for students to learn to navigate the digital space, and be empowered to access, evaluate, and share information safely and responsibly online.
Many of these Digital Citizenship skills also go hand in hand with critical Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills, such as self-management, relationship building, self-awareness, social awareness, and responsible decision making. Research shows that by regularly addressing these five competencies of SEL in our classrooms, we will positively impact and see an increase in student academic performance. It is essential that we have ideas and tools that can help us to create learning experiences for students to develop SEL skills.
It’s clear that both Digital Citizenship and SEL skills are crucial to student success. Fostering both of these skill sets together is a win-win for educators and students alike!
Finding the right tools
When we think about how to foster Digital Citizenship and SEL skills in students, there are so many digital tools out there to choose from. When choosing, it’s important to focus on the “why?” behind what we choose. The use of digital tools promotes collaboration, communication, creativity, and many more essential skills while also boosting student choice and engagement. With the right tools, we can help students build Digital Citizenship skills, develop SEL skills, and spark their curiosity and creativity in learning!
With the variety of resources available through Capstone, students have access to so many wonderful learning materials. In addition to the actual educational content, these learning materials provide students with an opportunity to practice and develop good habits when it comes to using digital tools. PebbleGo is a great place to start as young learners begin to explore digital spaces.
Building skills through PebbleGo
PebbleGo allows students to build Digital Citizenship and SEL skills while learning about topics that interest them! With PebbleGo, students can choose an article about something they’d like to learn about, and work through the materials on their own. As students are empowered to choose their own research topics, they take an active role and are more engaged in their learning. PebbleGo provides students with what they need as they develop Digital Citizenship skills by modeling what they see online. For example, students can learn how to cite information with a push of a button.
One of my favorite articles (and one that is perfect for Digital Citizenship Week!) is on Grace Hopper from the Biographies module. Students can learn about her amazing work in computer science, and this article could also lead to great conversations in the classroom.
To best prepare our students, it is important to provide them with opportunities to not only absorb new material, but also to share their ideas, engage in inquiry-based learning, and explore different resources as they build their self- and social awareness. PebbleGo Create allows students to take what they have learned and illustrate their understanding and ideas through a variety of media features. Beyond the potential for creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication, using PebbleGo Create, students can build skills in digital media literacy, technological proficiency, and digital citizenship. They can add text, video, and audio to “tell about” what they’ve learned, and use the drawing, sticker, and animation tools to show what they’ve learned as well.
Throughout this process, students are enabled to gain experience creating and sharing materials online responsibly, and are able to practice using a wide selection of online media. Students can also develop resilience as they may experience challenges that come with having so much choice in the learning experience. There are even emojis available for students to show how they’re feeling about their learning, which helps support SEL skills such as self-awareness.
Check out some fun ideas that you and your students could do with PebbleGo Create that are perfect for fostering both Digital Citizenship skills and SEL skills. If you have a PebbleGo Create account, you can click on the link, then click "copy" to make a copy of these materials for yourself!
1. T.H.I.N.K. about appropriate posting
Encourage students to "T.H.I.N.K." before they post online with this colorful poster! Educators can print it out and display it in their classroom or a computer lab. The poster can be used as a tool to talk to students about carefully considering what kinds of posts are appropriate to share online. This is an essential Digital Citizenship skill, and is also a key part of responsible decision making, self-management, and social awareness. Create your own T.H.I.N.K. Poster.
Bonus Idea: Create your own Digital Citizenship PSA poster as a class, or have students create their own!
2. Learn how to evaluate online sources
This activity is an excellent opportunity for students to learn about responsible decision making and digital citizenship. Educators can have students choose a website they would like to evaluate, assign them a website, or evaluate a website as a class. (They could even begin with evaluating PebbleGo!) Then, students will assess the website and decide whether or not the website meets the criteria for being a reliable source. Finally, students can reflect on what they’ve learned and what they think about the reliability of different sources. Discover the Evaluating Online Sources activity here.
3. Reflect on how online spaces can be used for good
The digital world offers many opportunities to connect with others and make a positive change. Have your students reflect on some of the things they can do to have a positive impact and effect change through online platforms. Of course using online spaces for good is a Digital Citizenship skill, but this could also be an opportunity for students to reflect on relationship building, responsible decision making, and social awareness skills. Click here for your own Digital Citizenship Reflection.
Fostering Life-Long Skills
Digital Citizenship and SEL skills are not only integral for students’ academic success, but they are also essential for students’ day to day lives. The skills they begin to build now in the classroom will carry them through higher education, career paths, and beyond. By taking time to design more authentic ways for students to amplify their learning, connect with the content in a more meaningful way, and have a choice in how to apply their learning, we will also foster student agency and empower our learners. This will encourage healthy digital and SEL habits. Educators strive to instill these skills in their students each day, and these skills will stay with students long after they leave the classroom.