While most of the information we’ve covered thus far could be considered digital citizenship, these same topics are also sometimes called digital literacy, information literacy, and even media literacy.
What’s the difference between all of these terms? We get asked this all the time!
We like to think of digital literacy as a big umbrella that encompasses all of the digital life skills kids need. Under that umbrella you’ll find digital citizenship, information literacy, and media literacy. They are all important!
You’ve had just a small taste the competencies students so desperately need today… but there is so much more to becoming an ethical, safe, and productive digital citizen! Teaching students these skills really does take (and deserves) time. Here's how we do it:
Our Goal? We Want Students to Be Positive, Empowered, and Thoughtful Media Producers
There was a disturbing finding in the recent “2019 The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens” report from Common Sense Media:
"Despite the new affordances and promises of digital devices, young
people devote very little time to creating their own content."
This is a crying shame! Today’s students have access to powerful devices that allow them to share their talents and flex their creative muscles. Yet that’s not what they are doing.
It is important for you to help your young digital citizens learn to become more than just mindless consumers or worse, unsafe users of technology. With your help (and ours) students can learn to use technology to become productive and positive producers!
Help Your Students Become Media “Producers”
“Blogging” is an easy way to nudge students towards media production. We discovered a terrific activity in a blog called “Notes from McTeach.” We liked it so much that we included it in Cyber Civics!
This lesson helps students practice blogging and (more importantly) the art of respectful commenting. We like students to practice both offline so they can hone their skills before taking them into a digital world that never forgets. Here’s how to do this with your own students:
1. Ask them to write one or two paragraphs on something they are passionate about. This can be a favorite sport or hobby, or a topic that is of particular interest to them, like climate change or world hunger. This will be their rough draft.
2. Make sure every student has a blank sheet of paper, or even better, a sheet of light card stock (8.5” x 11”). Have them write their final draft on it, leaving enough space around the sides to personalize their “blog post” by decorating it as though it were online, or just to make it visually pleasing.
3. Equip all students with 3x3 “Post-It” notes. Students will use these to “post” comments on their classmates’ blog posts.
4. Have students pass their completed posts around the room so that their classmates can read, reflect, and comment on them (by affixing a Post-It to each blog post they read). Let your students comment on as many of their classmate’s posts as you have time to get through, reminding them to keep the guidelines of “Respectful Commenting” (below) in mind.
Sample student work. Blogging and respectful commenting.
It is important for digital citizens to know that even the act of commenting online can contribute to their “digital reputations.” That’s why it’s important to teach students how to comment respectfully to the posts of others. Following are some wonderful guidelines from “The Art and Aspirations of a Commentator” by Karen McMillan.
A respectful commenter:
Treats all bloggers with respect.
Seeks first to understand what is being said.
Celebrates another's accomplishments.
Uses appropriate language.
Rephrases ideas in the blog that makes them think, feel, or helped them learn.
Comments positively, without criticism. If they disagree, they politely state their perspective.
Asks at least one question with the hope of continuing a conversation and deepening
Triple checks before submitting any comment and asks themselves: Would you be happy to have your mother read this?
For this lesson or others from Cyber Civics: Level 3 (Media Literacy for Positive Participation) just ask us!