Teaching Students Digital Citizenship

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 4

4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility – Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

a. Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.

Program Standard 1

1. Expectations – The teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

1.2 Element – Communicating with Students

1.2 Example of Proficient – Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience.

Digital Citizenship

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The internet has become an integral part of education as it enables more dynamic classroom learning. However, it also poses risks to young students and the laws and codes of acceptable conduct can be confusing. It is important for teachers to help children understand the importance of safe, responsible use of online resources. On the International Society for Technology in Education website, Mike Ribble describes essential elements to consider when navigating the web. These fundamentals are meant to provide teachers with a way to approach the subject with students and ensure that they are covering all of the pertinent information. Ribble (2014) suggests that there are nine basic components to digital citizenship:


1.Digital access: Advocating for equal digital rights and access is where digital citizenship starts.

2.Digital etiquette: Rules and policies aren’t enough — we need to teach everyone about appropriate conduct online.

3.Digital law: It’s critical that users understand it’s a crime to steal or damage another’s digital work, identity or property.


4.Digital communication: With so many communication options available, users need to learn how to make appropriate decisions.

5.Digital literacy: We need to teach students how to learn in a digital society.

6.Digital commerce: As users make more purchases online, they must understand how to be effective consumers in a digital economy.


7.Digital rights and responsibilities: We must inform people of their basic digital rights to privacy, freedom of speech, etc.

8.Digital safety and security: Digital citizens need to know how to protect their information from outside forces that might cause harm.

9.Digital health and wellness: From physical issues, such as repetitive stress syndrome, to psychological issues, such as internet addiction, users should understand the health risks of technology. (Ribble, 2014)

The complex nature of these standards makes it necessary for educators to explicitly instruct students on how to responsibly use the internet so that they can become engaged and active members of online communities. Like in any community, there are standard behaviors expected of conscientious online participants. It can feel like the internet is not a part of real life so students are not always on their best behavior or participating in productive activities. Online bullying is a major issue that educators need to tackle directly in their classroom. Teachers need to stress to students that anything said or done online is just as real as when they are interacting with one of their classroom peers.

In classrooms, online activity is not just used for connecting students with one another or collaborating with classroom communities around the world. The main thing it is used for is research. The reason the internet is such a great resource for finding material is because it is constantly updated and added to. However, that amount of information can be overwhelming. Students often feel that anything found online is reputable so it is critical for teachers to instruct them on how to distinguish good sources from bad ones. Educators play a huge role in how students learn to conduct research and those skills are important to life-long success. 

It is also important to help students understand that not everything found on the internet is free to use and adapt. Copyright laws and creative commons licensing can be a difficult topic so it is imperative that teachers take the time to go over the intricacies of it with their students. Many young children believe that laws and acceptable behavior are not relevant online because it feels disconnected from reality. It is crucial to teach them that their actions always matter and that there will be consequences if they break the law online. Once students have learned all of the aspects of proper digital conduct, they will be empowered to elevate their learning using the vast array of material the internet has to offer.

Ribble, M. (2014) Essential elements of digital citizenship. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articledetail?articleid=101

Using Collaborative Communities To Improve Professional Teaching Development

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 5

5. Engage in professional growth and leadership – Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

a. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.

Program Standard 8

8. Professional Practice – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Element – Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Example of Proficient – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Teachers are by nature communicators. They spend most of each day conveying ideas to their students. They are inherently a part of a community within their own classroom, yet, many teachers find themselves secluded. The educational system is set up so that teachers are separated from their peers for most of the day only interacting with their students. Donnelly and Boniface (2013) argued, “One of the most salient issues for practicing teachers is isolation” (p. 9). They continued to elaborate that this reality is caused by the fact that teachers do not have many chances during the day to work with their colleagues. However, an integral part of professional development for educators is collaboration with others in the field. Technology has created ways for teachers to virtually connect with each other whether they are from within the same school or located across the globe. For EDTC 6433 (Teaching with Technology) I explored how to use online communities and tools to help improve my professional practice and model lifelong learning skills that will aid my students in becoming proactive learners.

The act of teaching can be transformed through joint effort and strong teacher cooperation whether it is found within schools or through online communities. Another student in EDTC 6433 shared an article extolling the benefits of peer partnerships for educators and how collaboration helped to create more dynamic lesson plans for their students. The administrators in this article took great care to foster a culture of community within their school. Although these teachers were located in the same school, they still found it difficult to find time to physically meet up so they made use of technology to communicate. They enhanced their communication by using Google Drive to create and share files (Edutopia, 2015). These teachers made excellent use of technology to collaborate more easily and effectively with peers within their school.

While the Internet is a wonderful tool to connect busy teachers within schools or districts it can also be used to connect educators across the globe. Scragg (2013) compiled a list of websites used to host educational communities. Web sites like Twitter have been used to create teacher communities where educators can talk about current issues and follow one another as well as host virtual “meet ups.” Other websites like We Are Teachers, Teachers Teaching Teachers, Share My Lesson, and Classroom 2.0 were all specifically designed to allow teachers from across the country and around the globe to connect and share resources (Scragg, 2013). These communities allow individuals to develop their practice by posing questions or providing advice to fellow educators. These online groups allow teachers to share open educational resources with one another and enrich their own experiences by exposing themselves to ideas they might not have otherwise discovered. This type of open sharing allows teachers access to innovative material which will benefit their professional practice. When teachers are able to constantly better themselves their students will model that proactive behavior and benefit as well. Online resources like these will play a large role in my teaching practice and I will use technology to make sure that I remain connected to my colleagues.

Donnelly, D.F. & Boniface, S. (2013). Consuming and creating: Early-adopting science teachers’ perceptions and use of a wiki to support professional development. Computers & Education, 68, 9-20. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.023
Edutopia. (2015). Teacher Collaboration: Matching Complementary Strengths. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/practice/teacher-collaboration-matching-complementary-strengths
Scragg, S. (2013) Online teacher communities. United Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.uft.org/linking-learning/online-teacher-communities

Facilitating Nondirective Learning For Long-Term Achievement

Program Standard 6

6. Assessment – The teacher uses multiple data elements (both formative and summative) to plan, inform and adjust instruction and evaluate student learning.

6.2 Element – Designing Student Assessments with an Emphasis on Formative Assessment

6.2 Example of Proficient – Teacher has a well-developed strategy to using formative assessment and has designed particular approaches to be used.

Carl Rogers once stated, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn…and change” (Mentis, Dunn-Bernstein, & Mentis, 2008, p. 89). He believed that it was the teacher’s role to facilitate learning for students and create a productive environment without explicitly directing them. This type of education requires teachers and students to become partners in learning instead of relying on the traditional classroom hierarchy (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 285). This method can produce many benefits for learners and have long-term results. Students who understand how to effectively learn new information on their own and then retain that knowledge can do so independently for the rest of their lives. Students who enter college with this kind of self-reliance stand to do far better than those who have always relied on teachers to provide them with direction. Nondirective teaching may seem like a passive endeavor that leaves teachers little to do in the classroom but that is not the case.

carl rogersEducators have an important role to play in this type of teaching and their support and encouragement is crucial to student success. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) asserted that “…the teacher’s goal is to help [students] understand their own needs and values so that they can effectively direct their own educational decisions” (p. 289). Teachers must work to understand their students’ thinking so that they can help each one of them on their educational journey. Questioning is a large part of this teaching style because it serves to not only show students that the teacher is interested in their development but also allows teachers to push them to grow and achieve without directing their learning. Teachers can ask students non-leading questions to get them to think about issues and their own learning in ways they might not have otherwise investigated. Joyce et al. (2015) stated, “ The nondirective approach maintains that the most effective means of uncovering the emotions underlying a problem is to follow the pattern of the students’ feelings as they are freely expressed” (p. 290). These types of questions allow students to openly explore their opinions without fear of judgment which can help negate any pessimistic attitudes those students might have had about learning.

While this method of instructions has the potential to unlock motivation in students, it can be difficult for educators to institute effectively in the classroom. Nondirective teaching actually does require a great deal of teacher involvement. Teachers must be available to nurture their students’ emotional need while remaining unbiased which is a large task to take on. In order for teachers to not bring in their own personal experiences and opinions they first must work to identify and bring any preconceptions to the surface. This task is not a simple one as most people are largely unaware of many of their own underlying ideals. Even if educators are able to remain neutral and not influence their students’ thinking this kind of teaching tends to bring out unexplored emotions in learners. Joyce et al. (2015) suggested, “The nondirective environment raises the emotional elements of the situation more than the intellectual” (p. 295). This type of introspection and development can lead to unpredictable and uncomfortable conversations. Teachers must mentally prepare themselves to deal with unexpected questions and situations. However, despite the potential difficulties inherent to nondirective teaching it is still an important tool for educators to explore. When done well it has the potential to create more conscientious students capable of self-motivated life-long learning.

Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching: Ninth Edition. New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Mentis, M., Dunn-Bernstein, M., & Mentis, M. (2008). Mediated Learning: Teaching, Tasks, and Tools to Unlock Cognitive Potential. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
The photo in this post has been unedited and was found on Pixteller following creative commons licensing.

Comprehension and Development of Program Standard 8

Program Standard 8

8. Professional Practice Criteria– The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Element Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Example of Proficient Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Figure 1
Figure 1 (click to enlarge)

During the completion of my coursework for EDU 6918 (Introduction to Teaching), I explored and expanded my knowledge of what it means to effectively work together with my peers and administrators as a future educator and how that will positively influence my students. This quarter I explored the complexity of the standard listed above and determined that collaborative educators have a natural tendency towards personal development. That propensity drives them to reach out to peers to share their newly acquired knowledge, provide their fellow educators with support, and also look to those same individuals for guidance in their quest for improvement. Figure 1 is an example of the coursework that led me to critically think about and further my understanding of what it means to contribute to a professional teaching community. It provides a concrete example of how a teacher might contribute to his or her school and demonstrates the impact of being a part of a cooperative environment. Competent teachers both contribute to and benefit from this kind of symbiotic relationship with peers and administrators and the resulting individual growth of teachers greatly benefits the students in their charge. When educators are able to go to their colleagues and discuss and dissect lesson plans, classroom management techniques, the latest information on culturally responsive teaching, or the newest technology innovation for teaching it is more likely that those things will be improved or newly implemented in their classrooms. Collaboration between teachers can allow them to brainstorm how new techniques and software can be actually realized in their class. Furthermore, it provides teachers a way to assess their teaching practice on a more routine level. While it is critical for new teachers to develop relationships in their educational communities it is also important for them to remember to sustain that same level of commitment as they become more experienced. Part of building and maintaining a cohesive support network of teachers within a school is equal participation. During my student teaching and into my first years as a teacher I will offer support and encouragement to my peers and look to them for guidance. As I gain more experience, I will continue that tradition of community by providing as well as eliciting feedback from other teaching professionals.

Hunzicker, J. (2013). Attitude has a lot to do with it: dispositions of emerging teacher   leadership. Teacher Development, 17:4, 538-561. doi: 10.1080/13664530.2013.849614