Dear Future Students,
I want to take a moment to get you pumped up for this coming school year. As you may have seen as you walked by my classroom, or heard through the wall that separates Mr. Brown and I, we have a lot of fun in my room. You might have noticed that we dance, film videos, and blog about our work. Now you may think that this is all fun, and I hope that is your thought, but I want you to know that I am also sneaking in some learning into your 6th grade head. That is right, I am a sneaky teacher. When we are blogging, filming, and communicating with others online, I am also teaching you the life skills on how to be a good digital citizen.
What is a digital citizen you may ask? Well, in the broadest terms it comes down to REP: Respect, Educate, and Protect. How can you be a respectful person online? What ways can you protect yourself when navigating the digital world? And what tools can I educate you with to prepare you for the years ahead on the digital world? You can also think of the Digital 10 Rules, and we will talk early on in the year where these rules fit in REP. While most of the rules fall under being respectful, we can talk about how we can better protect ourselves from someone trying to see our work, and how we can become better educated and keep up to date with the different technologies and rules. These will be just as important as the ways we are safe, respectful, and responsible in our physical classroom. We will have conversations about what this means when you are on your computer, and run some games to help you gain a deeper understanding.
Once we have a solid understanding, that is when the fun activities begin. We start the year off with the Global Read Aloud. During this global event, we will have the opportunity to communicate with classrooms around the world using the blogging platform Write About It. By participating with this online platform, we will be practicing how to communicate online in a positive and safe manner by commenting on other students' blog posts. We will discuss and practice how to respond to a blog post, first be practicing as a class using Twitter, and then by having you practice on your own through Write About It. This will be your first online chance to model that you are a digital citizen. As 6th graders, communicating online is something you probably do every day. Whether through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. I want to make sure that through this blogging experience, you gain an understanding of there being a right and wrong way to respond and take this knowledge to practice in your everyday lives. I hope that if you get a message that is inappropriate, that you remember that you shouldn't respond back the same way, but rather find and report it to an adult, just as if this had happened on your blog post in class.
Another activity that we will be doing in my classroom is creating Google Slides. When we create these slides, I expect that you give credit where credit is do. If you take an image to put on your slide show, you are going to give credit to the person whose image it is; just like if you were quoting someone. We will talk about the Creative Commons, and I will model how to use them, just like I am doing in this blog post right here. You will have plenty of opportunities to practice this as we will be doing slides on landforms, climates, and different cultures, to name a few things. It is important that you realize that you need to give credit to other peoples' work or else it is stealing, and that is not being respectful in the digital OR physical world.
I hope this letter has gotten you excited for the upcoming school year. I know that I am excited, getting Google Classroom prepped, practicing my GoNoodle dance moves, and copying permission forms to put your smiling faces on our social media sites. I look forward to meeting you and your parents at open house night!
Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education.
Starr, L. (n.d.). Education World: Proper Internet Use | Tools for Teaching ... Retrieved October 20, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech055.shtml
Team, G. (n.d.). Middle School Digital Citizenship: What Students Need to ... Retrieved October 20, 2016, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/middle-school-digital-citizenship
My name is Jessica Meservey and I am a 6th grade teacher. There is no level that I would rather be teaching and learning with. I currently teach in rural Maine. I love to integrate technology into my classroom as we are 1:1. Find me on Twitter at @MsMeservey.