December 22, 2017 by Rhonda Kinstner
As a technology teacher for more than ten years, I’ve been teaching the topic of digital citizenship for quite some time. More recently, I began addressing it from the perspective of an elementary teacher instead the secondary teacher I was during my last graduate program. The timing of this course was consistent with my digital citizenship unit at school this year, which made the experience much more effective.
I learned something about the history of copyright laws that I found to be interesting enough to do more research on my own. I felt very accomplished in integrating technology with history in a lesson plan that included discussion about the U.S. Copyright Office and the Library of Congress. I think my 4th and 5th-grade students found it cool that the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and holds original copies of so many published works.
I also realized during class one day that crediting our sources gives them actual credibility. I posted a sentence on my board this past week that read “There are over 20,000 species, or types of bee”. When I asked my students if they thought that statement was true, a majority didn’t believe it. But when I showed them the citation for that information, they were amazed to see I had learned it on Encyclopedia Britannica.
My biggest challenge throughout this course was learning a new presentation application, which turned out to be really fun. The possibilities in PowToon are endless, and I plan to use it again for lessons at school, and possibly a business that I own. I am even considering purchasing the professional version.
Learning about the 9 categories of digital citizenship made it easy for me to break it down for my students in a more effective way. While my unit at school doesn’t last 9 weeks, the topic is one that will be revisited throughout the year as students conduct online research. I am also sharing these categories with my co-workers so that their students can be consistent in how they regard copyright.
If I could change any one of the activities I created, it would likely be my final presentation. I really had a lot to say, and wish I’d chosen a presentation method that provided me more than 5 minutes. On the bright side, it was designed as something I could share with my students at school, and anything longer than five minutes may have been too much. The process took me about five days. I didn’t realize until three minutes through the production that my voiceover had just stopped. I had to re-record the entire script, which forced me to adjust the timing of everything I had done.
I would say that this course forced me to examine how I use tools online. I’m making a much more conscious effort to credit my sources in the classroom.