Tag Archives: digital citizenship

Empathy: Testing and being tested

We regularly test our learners’ progress. How might we “walk in our learners’ shoes?”

On our last professional development day, our faculty participated in  the WayFind Teacher Assessment for Effective 21st Century Teachers, designed by learning.com.  It was a great lesson in empathy.  There were varied reactions (as you can imagine) from my friends and colleagues about the test and being tested.  I wonder how many of our student-learners feel the same when tested in class.

While clearly described as a diagnostic assessment by our co-Deans of IT, several of us experienced angst and stress about being tested.  I wonder how our students deal with this stress from 7 courses each requiring 4-7 tests per semester that are summative rather than diagnostic.  How often have I dismissed the nervousness of a student when they seek reassurance from me before a test?  (Shame on me!)

The WayFind Assessment was given on the computer.  How many of us wanted and expected immediate feedback?  It was given on the computer; why didn’t I get my results when I pressed submit?  I remember how irritated I have been with the children when they have circled back after lunch and asked if I have graded their papers.  Really?  I just gave the test before lunch.  When would I have had time to grade them?  We wanted to know our results because we were interested in the outcome.  We wanted to verify and see the results of our success.  Isn’t that what every learner wants?

Perhaps the most important of all the questions asked by faculty:  Can I have a second chance to take the assessment?  It was said to me at least a half a dozen times.  As soon as I turned it in, I knew more answers! I would do better the next time.

It is tough to walk in our learners’ shoes. So, what should be learned?

I have the results from my WayFind assessment.  I know where I stand according to the WayFind results.  What other lessons are to be learned from this experience?

I wonder if I (we) will learn the additional and perhaps more important lessons from the experience.


Following Quantum Progress‘s good example, I’m including my WayFind Assessment results below.

Feedback & Learning from “What do you know about your current digital footprint?” lesson

On February 12, I posted What do you know about your digital footprint? to overview one lesson for our community on establishing and maintaining a positive digital footprint.  I had the privilege of participating in the lesson several way and multiple times.  The results have been interesting and positive.

A note from a participant:

When I googled [my name], I didn’t find anything on Google images. On the web part of Google, I found a picture of me from [camp], my name associated with [school], and some information about some [sports] things that I do. When I was about to google [my name], I hoped to not find anything very personal, and I didn’t. I only found things associations with what I did. I was not surprised because I had googled [my name] before. I don’t have a problem with what I found about myself.

Another note to a facilitator from a participant:

From: [an advisee]
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2012
To:  [an advisor]
Subject: [Thank you!!!!]

Thank you for what you did today because I actually found [a] picture that I did not like. I’m not the one who posted them; it was [someone else]. What do I do? Thank you again for a great day.

A note from a parent:

Thanks for the link.  Wanted to tell you that I googled my name and cell last night and was shocked with what I found.  I do Google my name regularly, but never accompanied by my cell number.  What I found was an “editgrid” that our [community] shuttle uses, complete with every child’s name, their sport/arts participation schedule, times of pick-ups/drop-offs, plus all drivers’ names and cell numbers.  Wow!  We use this grid when the seasonal sports change so we can easily update our child’s information for the shuttle chair to plan for drivers.  Never even thought about this not being a private spreadsheet.  I have emailed the owner of the grid to ask him to please privatize it and offered to help type in all of the emails to give them invitations to it.

Just wanted to say thanks for the reminder to add in cell phones!

A request from a participant

I really didn’t find anything on me. The only things that I found were my times from [sports]. I was hoping that there wouldn’t be a lot on me especially not pictures because I think that someone could find me if I there were pictures and a lot of information. I’m really glad that there wasn’t a lot of stuff about me on Google or any other sites. I think that it would be helpful to have a lesson on how to keep things from going on the internet and having things so public. I think that would really help benefit a lot of people.

One more note from a participant:

When I googled my name, I found a bunch of [sports] things. Things like the [events] I had been in, [sports] recruiting websites, and things I had said from today’s meet in [class] this year. I was surprised that it had things from my classes there.

I am okay with what is posted of me online. I am glad that I never got a buzz so pictures of me aren’t all over the web. I wish something interesting or cool that has been accomplished by me would be up there, instead of just things like [sports] and school.

It is too bad that you cannot read what our learners wrote in more detail.  Their thinking about what they strive to be known for is beautiful, elegant, and inspiring.

Part II in our digital citizenship series should be geared toward understanding privacy settings.  Our community members regularly use Google docs, blogs, and other social media.  Are they aware of their privacy settings, or do they just rely on the default settings?  It is important to understand, know, and confirm how public you have allowed your information to be shared.

Checking on your digital footprint – important.
Learning to be an advocate for yourself and others – priceless.

What do you know about your digital footprint?

Want to learn with your students? Read and comment on their blogs!

In Synergy, we are working to establish the habit of writing about our work, thinking, and learning.  Once a week, we ask our learners to blog to communicate with others in our team about their questions, ideas, and activities.

I know more about my students than ever because I read their blogs.  I know more about their questions, planning, problem-solving, and attitudes. I also know what they want to know more about and what they are interested in learning.  I have the opportunity to become a learner with them.  They lead my learning as I strive to lead their learning.  Isn’t that GREAT?

Here is this week’s blog post prompt:

After 5 weeks of Synergy, and after eliciting the Alpha project, you should have lots on your mind. This week’s prompt is OPEN. On wmslearns.net, write about what’s on your mind related to Synergy. Like all good writing, your post should express a complete thought with a balance of general and specific details.

Here’s what I have learned and want to know more about.  Note: I learned, read, and thought about all of the items below because my learners are interested in these topics.  Their interest piques my curiosity, and I want to know more too.

  • Did you know that there are solar-powered waste and recycling bins?  They are called Big Belly solar compactors.  The bin senses when the trash reaches a certain height in the container and automatically compacts it to about 1/5 of its original size.  The bins have a signal when it needs to be emptied which could reduce the number of trips made to empty the trash.  Wouldn’t this decrease the carbon footprint of the waste management facility on campus?
  • Did you know that TheFunTheory.com has a video showing a fun way to get people to recycle glass bottles?  Have you seen the Bottle Bank Arcade video?  Do you think that plastic bottles are recycled more than glass bottles?  How would we collect data to see?
  • Did you know that Patagonia has products made from recycled polyester?
  • How can we connect the theory of fun with recycling?  Have you seen Gobby? EnviroZone’s website says: “More than just a fun multi-stream recycling bin, it’s a recycling education program specifically designed to instill a recycling habit in children by teaching them how to separate recyclables from trash in a fun and colorful way.”
  • I have a learner who naturally uses acrostics to communicate her thinking.  They are brilliant! (I did not know what an acrostic was until this semester.)  What I particularly love is she embeds questions in the acrostic.
  • I wonder if the ad campaign team, the recycle team, and the Theory of Fun team would consider combining forces to promote art and education about recycling.  I hope they will read “More Art, Less Trash” artistic recycling bins to be installed on campus from Indiana University.  These bins remind me of the Chicago Cows on Parade art exhibit.
  • Do you know why you do or don’t carpool?  I didn’t until today.  One post caused me to write “My friends that live near me do not want to keep the same hours at work as I do. I come early and stay late. We come early because of the traffic and the opportunity to get a little work in before school starts. I stay late because of the planning and meetings I choose to volunteer to contribute my interest and learning. I also think my lack of carpooling might have to do with my responsibilities to my family. What if my daughter needs to go home during the middle of the school day because she is sick, and I don’t have my car? How will I help her? You post leads me to the current conclusion that I do not carpool because of my need for independence. I’ll keep thinking. Thanks…”  I didn’t know that was what I thought.
  • Which is more effective, an ad or a commercial?  I’m wondering whether a photo/print/billboard ad is more or less effective than a video?  Both can be considered PSAs or can they?
  • Are humans really motived by a prize or reward?  Have you seen Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team?  What happened when a $10,000 prize was offered to the team that built the tallest tower?

In addition to the above learning challenges, we also know more about the disposition of our learners.  We know which teams need coaching on collaboration and which teams need research support?  We have a better opportunity to serve as resources and guides because we share our thinking.

And if that isn’t enough…one of our Synergy learners provided the driving questions for tomorrow’s provocation.  He challenges the 26 of us to combine the work of Recycling, Cleaning up Nancy Creek, Carpooling, the Ad Campaign, and Cleaning Campus in a Fun Way to create a more “green” school.

My 8th grade teammates lead my learning; they motivate me to learn more.  Their questions cause me to have questions, to grow, and to learn.

What do you know about your current digital footprint?

For the past several weeks, the JH DIS (departmental integration specialists) and I have been developing a lesson for our learners on digital citizenship.  Inspired by a session for parents at a neighboring school lead by one of our 7th graders, we developed our first lesson to discuss knowing about your current digital footprint.  This morning (Feb. 12, 2012), Renata Rowe (@renatarowe), Deputy Head of Campus/Head of Secondary, Ivanhoe Grammar School, posted Google your child, take back control, join Facebook! on the iCyberSafe.com – Living in a Connected World blog.

Our lesson follows the first bit of advice from Ms. Rowe and Common Sense Media.

One of the first things you can do is to Google your child’s name on the first day of every month.

While the advice from iCyberSafe.com is for parents, we believe that our learners should follow this advice for themselves.  After developing the initial lesson plan, we “did the lesson” ourselves to experience the lesson as participants, reflect on the lesson and make revisions.  To collect additional feedback and suggestions, we delivered our revised lesson to the available HS DIS, JH Grade Chairs, our Principal, and one of our Deans of IT.  We took their feedback and suggestions and revised our lesson again.  Last week, we delivered our lesson to 73 faculty in our division for one more level of learning, feedback and revision.  The lesson will be delivered to the rest of our learners on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Our lesson:

  • A quick whole group discussion about the first slide…What does this graphic convey to you?  Remember Mr. Adams’ What’s Your Brand? 4 R’s Gold, Growth & a Herd devotional at the beginning of the year about building your personal brand.
  • Watch 5 minutes (out of 12) of Julian Baggini: Is there a real you?  TEDxYouth@Manchester talk.  “…wise people fashion themselves.” As you grown and learn, you fashion yourself.
  • Individually reflect and write to the prompts:
    What do you want people to think when they hear your name? What do you want to be known for publicly? Describe the reputation you strive for with your family, peers, parents of peers, and others?
    While learners are writing, they will listen to Corey Smith’s song “Be the Change.”
  • Google your name, your name with your school, your online name, etc.  (For example, I searched for Jill Gough, jplgough, jgough, and my cell phone number.)
  • Individually reflect on what you found.  Write to the prompts:
    What did you find? Did you find what you hoped to find?  What surprised you? Is there anything you need help with?

We want to help our learners build a positive image; we always have.  How are we coaching and guiding our learners to build a positive image in our community and online? 

An additional resource from the post Google your child, take back control, join Facebook!

Common Sense Media at www.commonsense.org, has identified 6 steps that will give you a solid understanding of your child’s main media activities so that you can develop a strategy to manage them. By getting involved, you can help them use these tools responsibly, respectfully, and safely.

Additional great advice from Renata Rowe:

When you give your kids digital devices — mobile phones, computers, and other personal electronics — set rules around responsible, respectful usage.

I love the rules for responsible, respectful usage from common sense media, don’t you?

Rowe concludes her post with this message:

Teach your kids the basics of safe searching (Google has a safe-search setting), and give them a digital code of conduct. Don’t let them figure it all out by themselves.

Guiding Learners to Develop and Practice Citizenship

Our children operate in a connected society  (Gough n.pag.) where they share pictures, ideas, music, etc. with a couple of keystrokes.

We help our young learners prepare for college and for life when we guide them as they learn to navigate through any community.  Just as we review and practice CPR procedures at the beginning of each school year, we should review and refresh our understanding of the rules and regulations of online rights, privacy, and protection for our young learners.  Tom Whitby and Lisa Nielsen co-wrote and cross-posted the World’s simplest online safety policy.  While perhaps too simple as we grow our 1:1 program and more connected learning, it is worth a read and some consideration.

Students can access websites that do not contain or that filter mature content. They can use their real names, pictures, and work (as long it doesn’t have a grade/score from a school) with the notification and/or permission of the student and their parent or guardian”  (Nielsen n. pag.).

If you want to know more, please read their post.  They have good commentary and thoughtful information for teachers about FERPA, CIPA, and COPPA.

  • Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
    “The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law enacted by Congress to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. CIPA imposes certain types of requirements on any school or library that receives funding for Internet access or internal connections from the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications technology more affordable for eligible schools and libraries” (F.C.C. n. pag.).
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
    “The primary goal of COPPA and the Rule is to place parents in control over what information is collected from their young children online. The Rule was designed to protect children under age 13 while accounting for the dynamic nature of the Internet. The Rule applies to operators of commercial websites and online services directed to children under 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children, and operators of general audience websites or online services with actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13” (F.T.C. n. pag.).

When considering appropriate privacy, I think about my child.  I want her to learn under the guidance and tutelage of her family and teachers. At 7, she already asks to publish on her blog, and I want her to publish what she values.  I want her to learn to publish appropriately and responsibly.  She wants to learn and share.  I want her to learn, and when she makes mistakes, I don’t want her to hide what she is doing.  I hope she will have a network of caring, concerned friends, family, and teachers to help her self-correct.

A study by the Washington-based Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released early this year found that 73 percent of Americans ages 12 to 17 now use social-networking websites, up from 55 percent in 2006.  (Davis n. pag.)

As learners, coaches, facilitators, and teachers, how should we communicate and collaborate to connect us to the world and the world to us?  How do we continue to learn and grow?  How will we serve and lead in a changing world?

How will we “open the classroom of the world for our students while helping them grow into wise, safe, and responsible digital citizens?”


Apple.  “Apple-iPod touch-TVad- Share The Fun.”  You Tube. Web. 09 Dec. 2011.

Davis, Michelle.  “Social Networking Goes to School.” Education Week. Web.  06 Jun. 2010

Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  “Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).”  FCC.gov.  Web.  11 Dec. 2011.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  “Frequently Asked Questions about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA).” FTC.gov. Web.  09 Dec. 2011.

Gough, Jill.  “Social Media and my family.”  Experiments in Learning by Doing.  Web.  18 Nov. 2011.

Nielsen, Lisa, and Tom Whitby.  “World’s simplest online safety policy.”  The Innovative Educator.  Web.  3 April 2011.

U. S. Department of Education.  “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).”  Ed.gov.  Web.  09 Dec. 2011.

Social media and my family

I’ve had an interesting week with social media and my family.  My 7-year-old, AS, and I were talking on our drive home from school last Thursday.  She was reviewing her spelling list with me.  I asked her if she would like for us to write a story that uses all of her spelling words.  No kidding…Her response was “will we write it on my blog or on paper, Mommy?”

Will we write it on my blog or on paper, Mommy??????

So I asked what would be her preference, and she said “well, I’d like to write it on paper first, and then will you let me type it in my blog?”

We started AS’s blog last Christmas while at my mom’s house.  We went to the zoo in Hattiesburg, MS, and AS took photos with her digital camera.  Her photos are posted on her blog with a sentence about each animal.  There is an audio clip of her talking about being at the zoo.  This audio clip took about a dozen attempts before she said “this is Sunshine” instead of her name.  We had to practice, but the practice stuck.

Last May, AS produced a video interview introducing us to her friend Mittens.  (All by herself with no “teaching” from an adult.)  She asked me to publish it on the Internet.  You can tell she’s been watching iCarly.

She explained to me that she had to make the video 4 times because she kept saying her name rather than Sunshine.  I’ve posted two of the prototypes.

AS is growing up learning about managing her digital presence and publishing her work and learning to a public audience.  She has parents who use social media to work and learn.

In contrast, I discovered my 17-year-old niece’s twitter feed this past week.  I was not searching for it; it popped up in the “Who to follow” pane.  JL, my niece, is clearly very frustrated with her family – a completely typical, age-appropriate reaction.  She feels grown-up but has to abide by the rules of the family.   But does the world need to know this?  So I called and asked if she knew I was following her on Twitter.  I asked about some of her tweets.  She asked if she could call me back.  Smart.  She needed to review what she had written in public.

She did call back.  It was not a pleasant conversation.  I have never had a sharp word ever with this child.  I asked if she would say to me what she was saying on Twitter.  Her response was an angry “I was not talking to you, Aunt Jill!”  Using a very direct tone, I explained to this sweet uninformed child that in fact she was talking to me and anyone else that followed her.  And, if I chose to retweet what she posted, she was talking to each of my 300 followers.

JL’s parents use social media to an extent.  They have Facebook pages and connect with their family and friends to share photos, information, and stories.  Are they “friends” with their child?  Their initial reaction was to ban her from using Twitter.  Through a series of questions, I coached them to consider if that was the best solution.

Do we help our children navigate through difficult situations, or do we leave them to fend for themselves? Do we want them to learn experientially with and from their X-year-old friends?  Do we want our children to learn with and from their family and other significant adults?  How can we guide them to becoming literate, responsible citizens?  How are we doing educating ourselves?

We teach our children not to touch the stove, because it might burn them.  We don’t keep them out of the kitchen. And, if they touch the stove, we comfort them.  We help them fix it, learn from it, and feel better.