Digital Citizenship at Fermont Elementary School
I visited Fermont School last week as part of my role to help integrate technology and share the Digital Citizenship Initiative with Eastern Shores Schools. Yes, Fermont in February! Located at 52.8* North of the equator, Fermont School is the most northern school of the vast ESSB territory. It was -31*C while I was there, but that was mild compared with temperatures as low as -50*C in recent days. Residents here really exemplify the term ‘warm-blooded’. The students still ask to go outside for recess, even when it’s -40*C!
I had the opportunity to interact with many of the Teachers and Students, ranging from Kindergarten to grade 6. The main focus being Digital Citizenship, we explored several fun resources and activities. So join me, as I describe some of those events and interactions.
‘Twalkers’ is an interactive video game simulation that is perfect for demonstrating the negative effects of texting while trying to concentrate on something else. We can tell students (and adults too), that it is not appropriate to text and do homework or text and drive. Unfortunately, just telling is not enough. The Twalker activity enables learners to actually experience this first-hand and receive feedback. All students who participated in this activity can confirm they scored far better in the activity, when they focused on one activity at a time.
Here is how it works. The screen is divided into two parts. On the left, little avatars walk around carrying a variety of objects. Your task is to drag and drop these avatars into corresponding buildings. (Ex: burgers to the restaurant, books to library, etc). It sounds easy, right?
On the right of the screen, your cell phone keeps receiving text messages that you must answer. These are very simple multiple-choice questions about proper digital citizenship etiquette. Well, the activity ends and you receive a score and some feedback about the quality of your responses (usually not very good).
Like all good video games, the game prompts you to try again and even encourages you to beat your score. In this second attempt, the game intensifies. The objects being carried by the avatars now change into different objects. Students were frustrated when the burger they were sending to the restaurant turned into ice cream in mid-task. To make things worse, text messages were now coming in faster. Needless to say, the scores are worse the second time around.
In the final round, the cell phone battery expires and students are asked to focus only on the game in the left part of the screen. Can you believe the students were thrilled that the phone battery died? And…You know how this ends! The students scored higher than ever before, when the cell phone is not a distraction. Happy students…even happier Digital Citizen Teacher 🙂
Finally, feedback is provided to summarize the recent experience.
So, there are a few great take-aways from this activity.
- Student learning was experiential. They did not just hear about it…They lived it (PERHAPS the message has a deeper meaning). You can multi-task but you can’t multi-focus!
- As the teacher, I got to watch the students as they learned. What a gift! How often do we get to sit back and observe our students learning? Interventions were quite different as I saw varied levels of enjoyment, determination, frustration, humor, and even some bail-outs.
But who am I fooling?
Did this one activity transform students to change their behavior to become perfect digital citizens?
I doubt it!
I do believe these learners now better understand that focus is impaired by too many distractions. Activities like ‘Twalkers’ are simply icebreakers to start the conversation. We are inserting appropriate language into our collective vocabulary. So, today we are thinking about Digital Citizenship. Tomorrow, we hope to talk about it. Sometime down the road, we will be acting it. That is our journey toward becoming good digital citizens.
If you would like to try activities like ‘Twalkers’ yourself. Please explore more great options offered in the Digital Passport.
We rounded up our visit with a hoot of a quiz game called Kahoot.
Kahoot is a game-based classroom response system. This is just fancy-talk for an online survey game that is fun for teachers to use as a quiz or to review with students. You can create your own quiz, but you will surely find one already done for you (there are over 1 million public Kahoots available for use).
We just need to remember that the content on the site may contain errors. The Fermont students found this out while playing, but that was part of the fun. They disagreed with one particular answer, but the ensuing discussion was awesome. We had to pause the Kahoot game as a spontaneous debate erupted. Both sides backed up an opinion with justifications and supporting evidence. I almost forgot I was in an elementary school! Hey, everyone was a winner in the end. Students exercised critical thinking skills, and became better Digital Citizens in the process!
Keeping to the Valentine’s day theme, students practiced some math skills while multiplying and dividing hearts and cupids. Valentine vocabulary and spelling was also on the agenda with more Kahoot surveys.
The possibilities with Kahoot are endless…..So, I invite you to explore this further and share your experience with us.
Here are some favorites that we used in Fermont on Valentine’s Day.
Looking for more Digital Citizenship resources and information?
- ESSB Pinterest DC Board
- ESSB Youtube DC Playlist
- Digital Citizenship Quebec
- Risk within Reason website
- Common Sense Media
- Media Smarts