BUSD was recognized this year by Common Sense Media, a national nonprofit, for the district’s implementation of a digital citizenship curriculum designed to help students navigate the digital world safely, responsibly and ethically.
In the Berkeley Schools, we actively teach our students to be safe, responsible and respectful citizens of the world. It is equally important for our students to develop these qualities as digital citizens, as technology becomes more present in their lives. The work is challenging – below are just a few examples of scenarios educators and parents in our district are facing in helping students navigate their use of new media and technology:
- A 5th grader creates a YouTube channel. The student shares her videos with classmates, asking for subscribers. Other students start leaving hurtful, mocking comments on the videos and the teasing continues at school during recess.
- A parent comes up to their child’s classroom teacher on the yard and asks for guidance in using video games after school. Their child is playing for hours each night alone in the bedroom. Should they set limits? If so, how?
- A student is using BUSD online resources to gather research for a biography on Gandhi. The student finds a particularly interesting paragraph, and copies/pastes it into their Google Doc. The student searches Google for images of Gandhi, and pastes one into the document for cover art. The student does not include any citations.
Technology is a powerful tool for teaching and learning, but we have a responsibility to address these challenges, to teach students how to use technology in a thoughtful way. Our digital landscape is changing fast, and parents, teachers, and students need support.
As the Berkeley district continues to expand its 1:1 Chromebook initiative, training for teachers in technology integration and teaching digital citizenship are important components of that work.
Students in our 11 elementary and 3 middle schools participate in a rich digital citizenship curriculum designed to help students navigate the digital world safely, responsibly and ethically. Throughout the year, our Digitech team, school librarians and classroom teachers led lessons based on Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship curriculum. Common Sense Media is a national nonprofit that focuses on media literacy, and offers guidance to families and educators as they navigate the online world. The curriculum addresses topics such as public and private information, copyright and creative credit, talking safely online, evaluating online sources, gender stereotypes online, cyberbullying, and much more.
Our classroom discussions, for example, ask students to examine what it means to be a good citizen in their varied communities—what does it mean to be a citizen of Berkeley, for example? Or what does it mean to be a citizen in their family? How do our students follow the rules and norms of those communities? And, by extension, how can they can carry these expectations of good citizenship into their online community?
We encourage students to think critically about the information they share online and to think about the difference between private information and public information. We help students develop information literacy skills: how to locate, access and evaluate information they find online. Students hone their online search skills and then developed strategies to evaluate the information they found. We prompt them to ask: who created this website and for what purpose? Is this website trying to sell you something? Is it reputable? Can the information be verified elsewhere?
We are proud to announce that we met our goal for the 2017-18 school year. The majority of students in grades 3-8 participated in discussions and activities to build their digital citizenship skills.
We learned a tremendous amount last year, and are working closely with educators throughout the district to grow these lessons and to map out how technology use and digital citizenship education can integrate into the academic curriculum.
As a community, let’s strive to make sure our media use is intentional, thoughtful and active. The digital citizenship conversations we promoted this past year will continue to grow and benefit us all.
– Eric Silverberg, Library Services TSA