Every year, teachers are asked to cover a certain amount of minutes per subject. Here is the breakdown according to the Ministry of Education in Saskatchewan for grades 1-5:
There is one subject that appears to be missing from our curriculum : digital citizenship. As our world continues to evolve and rely increasingly on technology, students need guidance on how to be safe, savvy, and social online.
Where Are We Currently?
If something this important should be taught to our students, surely it is included in the curriculum, at least somewhere, right..? Nope. The Saskatchewan Curriculum contains no direct references to digital citizenship. When searching, the only mention of digital citizenship that I was able to find was the same article that Gerry shared for our class reading: Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools. This article is not even a curriculum document explaining how to implement digital citizenship in the classroom. It is simply a policy planning guide for how schools could possibly implement it. Upon further searching, I found that my school division’s website did have a section for digital citizenship, but aside from a blurb about how we subscribe to MediaSmarts, the only document mentioned is this same planning guide. I understand that teachers have some liberties that they can take in order to “interpret” the curriculum and provide students with lessons that we think are important. I feel that digital citizenship at this time falls under this umbrella. It is up to us as educators to find way to connect it to other parts of the curriculum in order to be able to teach it. However, I find it very disappointing that this guide was published in 2015 and it appears that school boards and the Ministry of Education have still not created any sort of curriculum or list of expectations/outcomes with supplementing resources that educators can use in their classrooms.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As I mentioned earlier, it appears that right now the responsibility of teaching digital citizenship falls on teachers directly. Since there is no formal curriculum or list of outcomes to be covered, it is up to individual teachers to decide what (if anything) relating to digital citizenship is important enough to be taught in their classrooms. This also means that is is up to use to decide whether we want to “sacrifice” some scheduled time in order to teach digital citizenship explicitly, or if we are able to find ways to integrate it into other subjects and try and find curricular connections. In my opinion, a bit of both would be the best way!
As Christine mentioned in Group C’s topic video, many of the digital citizenship skills are closely related to things we are already teaching in our classrooms. Discussions covering things such as how to research correctly, citing, assistive technology, passwords creation etc. could be integrate into almost any subject as long as students are going to be using those skills for an assignment. There are also many topics of digital citizenship that would fall nicely into some health outcomes. Christine’s post this week contains a great list of health outcomes by grade which have a strong digital citizenship connection. Finally, as I have mentioned in a previous post, Mike Ribble has created a Digital Citizenship Progression Chart which could be useful for guiding teachers in choosing which topics to discuss with students based off their age/grade level.
My Next Steps:
Taking EdTech courses, especially this course, has made me realize how important digital citizenship education is. I have also realized how little I knew about this topic and that the schools I have worked at do not really mention/promote the instruction of these skills. I am fortunate to work at a school that has allowed staff the option of sharing full class set computer carts amongst 2-3 teachers (instead of having 10ish computers per room). This allows me the opportunity to utilize technology more frequently as all students can participate at the same time.
This year, I am hoping to begin to integrate a bit more instruction on digital citizenship. At this time, I have two main ideas. First, when we are finished our novel study in English, I plan on beginning a unit on media literacy using this resource that I will purchase from TPT. From the preview, it seems like this resource will have some good digital citizenship connections as well as allow me to cover the outcome CR5.2 (view/evaluate visual/multimedia texts identifying persuasive techniques). Second, I am hoping to find some time after we are finished our current health unit in order to focus on some lessons that are very digital citizenship oriented. I envision this as almost being a unit of its own. Due to there being very limited resources in French (in general, but especially for digital citizenship), I imagine this unit will be primarily taught in English.
I am hoping that taking these first steps will help me to “get my footing” in the instruction of digital citizenship. My future goal is that next year I would like to find more ways to integrate digital citizenship lessons into as many other subjects as possible. Perhaps I will even make this my professional learning goal in the fall.
I will leave you with a few questions to ponder. Feel free to answer any of these or just share your general thoughts in the comments!
1. Do you think your school is doing a good job promoting digital citizenship instruction?
2. How long do you think it will take for us to have a provincially designed digital citizenship curriculum?
3. What are your next steps in your journey of teaching digital citizenship?