Teaching Digital Citizenship in the Secondary Classroom

Teaching digital citizenship in the secondary English classroom. Ideas for middle school and high school English.

As more people gain access to technology, educators around the globe are embracing 21st Century learning methods. Whether your classroom is a fully-functioning 1:1 classroom where every student has access to a device or if you have limited access and take your students to a shared lab, teaching digital citizenship is more important than ever before. Our students need to know the power of the Internet, how to use it safely, and the lasting consequences of their digital footprints. We have to teach our students how to stay safe.

As a 1:1 high school English teacher, I utilize Google Classroom, shared Google Docs and Slides for collaboration, and other collaborative sites on a weekly basis, so my high school English students need to know what is and is not appropriate behavior when it comes to electronically posting collaborative content.

Here are five different ways that you can include digital citizenship in your classroom.

Teaching digital citizenship in the secondary English classroom. Ideas for middle school and high school English.1. INTRODUCE DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP
To introduce digital citizenship to your students, provide them with this Digital Citizenship Graphic Organizer and have them complete it individually or in groups. You will want to give them plenty of time to truly think about each section in the organizer. Once students complete the organizer, instruct them to discuss what they’ve written either in small groups or with the entire class. This gets students to start thinking about digital citizenship and everything that it entails. Once students see just how much of an impact their digital footprint can have, they really are quite amazed. You can download this free digital citizenship activity HERE!

There are many examples of recent and relevant digital blunders to use as talking pieces and examples with your students. Because their are in the limelight, when celebrities, athletes, and public figures make digital mistakes, it does not take long for their inappropriate comments, tweets, or photos to go viral. Discuss some of these examples with students, and have them identify the mistake, and what should have been done instead. By being able to see just how important digital citizenship is, students will begin to take it more seriously.

While much of digital citizenship focuses on online safety, privacy, and acceptable online social norms, digital citizenship includes so much more than that. Digital citizenship also includes knowing how and when to use technology and the Internet effectively and efficiently for educational, professional, and recreational use. Two websites that are filled with an abundance of information for teaching digital citizenship are Common Sense Education and ISTE. Both of these organizations provide educators with updated resources and information about teaching digital citizenship. What I like about ISTE is that they provide digital teaching standards for educators that outline what students should know.

Take a day with your students to brainstorm proper, effective, and productive online behavior and acceptable use, and then use this information to make a classroom constitution for you and your students. Since they helped create this constitution, they will have more buy-in and take more care to follow the rules and use technology effectively.

This Digital Citizenship Mini Flip Book covers many of the criteria for teaching digital citizenship in your classroom including Internet safety, social media, cyberbullying, electronic care, and more. The last page includes a student and parent consent form so that parents become aware of digital citizenship as well. I used this mini flipbook with my students, and there was even a place in the book for us to all write in the digital behavior classroom constitution we created together. It is a fun, hands-on activity for secondary students that really gets them to understand the essentials of digital citizenship.
The Daring English Teacher is a collaborative author for the Secondary English Coffee Shop blog.

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