Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mara Brown: 20% Project, Collaboration & Community with a Global Perspective

For the 20% time within this course, I focused on continuing to create a digital community within my classroom. I connected the community building group project with this time, as it made the most sense to me to continue working with my students on becoming digital citizens.

Our community building project focused on communities. We had students tell us what communities they were a part of, both online and offline (face to face). With that information, I created a wordle that represents all 5 of my classes:

We discussed what it meant to be a part of these communities, and the behaviors or expectations that one needs to follow in order to be a positive community member, along with the similarities & differences between the two types of communities. We used TodaysMeet to begin this conversation, and then just moved into a large class discussion. We focused mainly on the online community expectations, as that is what we were going to add to our classroom. The biggest take away all students agreed upon was that if you wouldn't "say" that idea to a person's face, then you definitely shouldn't "post" it into an online community. This discussion then led into defining what a positive "digital citizen" was and what that specifically meant in each of my classes. Students agreed to the ideas already on the pledge, and each class added two more, signed their names, and we posted these in our classroom.

Following this discussion, students participated in a Moodle Forum, sharing their plans for the long Thanksgiving weekend. The requirements for the forum were that they must create their own post (response) to the question and then reply to 2 other student's posts, following the guidelines we had discussed and agreed upon within our class pledge.  The main ideas, pledge, and format of this introductory lesson (community building) came from common sense media.

I continued this work with my students on becoming even better digital citizens. Following our forum discussion, we discussed how the forum went & reviewed our pledge. To further emphasize the main ideas of digital citizenship, we watched the digital etiquette brainpop video, and reminded each other what is involved in being a part of an online community.

We also watched the digital footprint video from common sense media, reinforcing to students that what they think might be gone or deleted may not be, or what they say to another person could be shared with others. I will continue this conversation around digital use, specifically discussing the idea of privacy, but also how they create a digital "presence" or "profile." How will their choices today affect their futures? Have they actually thought about this? Again, I will use these resources, and continue to use other videos & lessons from common sense media throughout the year while we continue to incorporate more types of online communities and media in our class.

I plan to continue to use Moodle Forums, and experiment with other online communities, such as Schoology, Twitter, and creating a class blog using the kidblog platform. I spent most of my time perusing the resources from common sense media & videos on brainpop, as they fit very well with my 8th grade students, and were easy ways to begin to incorporate digitial citizenship within my classroom.

I would also like to consider creating an instagram account for Science, as that was clearly the online community that most, if not almost all, of my students are a part of. I personally love this social media community as well, so I think I would enjoy incorporating it into my curriculum. It does present the problem of not being allowed within our school wifi during the day. Thus, students cannot access this community while in class. Perhaps I could link this to our blog, and maybe it would even encourage students to be more motivated when completing assignments if it's involving their preferred mode of social media. Blogging was not a community that students are a part of - it never came up in our wordle or our community discussion. I plan to begin blogging with my students - allowing them to dive into a new type of social media that they are unfamiliar with....

Thus, with my continuing work on my PLN project, I hope to help students explore the world of blogging (responsibly) and eventually connect what they are learning in our classroom with the world. 

The open-endedness of this assignment was a little tough for me, as the topic was so broad, with endless possibilities. Once I narrowed things down, and worked to connect some of these lessons together, it worked. I wanted the digital citizenship lessons I created and used with my students to feel worthwhile and just as important as the science curriculum we were learning. I think that next year, using some of these lessons earlier on in September will make more sense as an introduction to what the expectations are for my class - both offline (face to face) and online!

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