Dear Blake Community,
To help bring together the ideas of digital citizenship and student voice into the conversations this week, our topic/question of the week is: When it comes to online security, what would happen if middle school students were given the ability to facilitate change in the goals, plans, practices?
Hopefully the beautiful weather this weekend allowed everyone a chance to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. After an evening out with friends on Friday, we were able to do some yard work with the kids - raking leaves and preparing the garden for winter. As much as I love the autumn weather, I have to admit we are all still adjusting to the time change from last weekend!
This past Monday evening we were quite fortunate to have Dr. Elizabeth Englander (a big thank you to Blake CSA) come to Blake for a presentation for parents - 'Navigating Social Media with Your Tweens/Teens'. As I have shared many times it was great for me to listen and learn, from the perspective of both a parent and an educator. As has been the case in the past, Dr. Englander shared practical and engaging strategies for parents. Although I have seen her speak many times I always benefit from hearing her ideas and mindset towards this important work. Much of her presentation emphasized the importance of talking with our children/students - being clear about expectations, listening to their perspective/views, and continuing the dialogue. With our focused advisory activities last week on Digital Citizenship it was great to hear directly from our students, and I think this holds true to all of our efforts at Blake. In order for us to have a real, sustainable impression we need to meet students where they are and an important step is to just ask and listen. Students are at the heart of our work for everything we do (classroom lessons, character education, technology integration, advisory, etc.) as we strive towards our mission: Blake Middle School believes in a living mission statement, based on the concept that our community seeks and respects knowledge, integrity, character, wisdom, and the willingness to adapt to a continually evolving world.
As a follow up to our Digital Citizen Week at Blake and in the spirit of sharing resources I have highlighted a summary of key points from Dr. Englander along with a post that I believe is a great guide for all of us. In addition I am sharing a post by Peter DeWitt about the role student voice should play in a school.
MARC Parent Resources
This is a direct link to the parent resources tab of the MARC (Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center) website. I have shared below some of my notes (principles/mindsets and concrete tips) from Elizabeth's presentation. As you will see they are helpful for children and adults alike.
A few key principles...
- Discuss your values - research shows it matters.
- Focus on problem behaviors versus specific websites
- Teaching how to manage rather than eliminate
- A little bit of adversity is productive
- 'Privacy is only as private as the biggest blabbermouth that knows about it.'
- Don't take everything too seriously - or nothing will be serious
- Responsibilities and Privileges - always important to make these known and outline both of them
- The Key Rule - talk with your children about what they are doing socially
A few tips/rules:
- House Rules - establish them early and revisit often
- Today's WiFi - as part of 'House Rules', using a checklist system to attain the 'daily WiFi' in the house
- Front seat of the car is a device free zone (encourages conversations and dialogue)
- No devices at dinner (for children and adults)
- When parents call, you must answer the phone
- When someone requests that devices go off, do it
- 24 Hour Rule - when you're upset wait before you text/post
What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship
by Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) in Edutopia
Vicki Davis provides a framework of 'proactive knowledge' and 'experiential knowledge', a nice way to think about all of our learning goals. The last two paragraphs of her post held particular meaning for me, thinking of this work as establishing 'citizenship', not just 'digitial citizenship'...
"There are those like expert Anne Collier who think we should drop the word "digital" because we're really just teaching citizenship. These are the skills and knowledge that students need to navigate the world today. We must teach these skills and guide students to experience situations where they apply knowledge. Citizenship is what we do to fulfill our role as a citizen. That role starts as soon as we click on the internet."
Student Voice: Do We Really Listen to Students?
by Peter DeWitt (@PeterMDeWitt) in Education Week
DeWitt's post serves as an excellent reminder that we must keep student voice as part of our school culture/norms. This is not to say that they will be the ultimate decision makers, but their perspectives and thoughts are critical. This holds true for all of us - teachers, parents, administration, and community. I also appreciated his referencing the impact that perspective has - perspective becomes reality - and being sure to keep this in mind.
"Adults like to talk about school. The other day I was walking through the grocery store and a woman who happened to be blocking the lane was complaining about her child's school to a friend...for all to hear. I swear she took a second glance at me as if she knew that I was an educator...Teachers and school leaders do it as well. They debate and discuss about how students learn, or try to figure out ways to better engage students who just don't seem to like to talk in school. There is a lot of problem-solving that happens around student engagement, but unfortunately a very important stakeholder is often left out of the discussion...the student."
This work is not easy and 'navigating the unknown' typically does not bring forth a sense of ease and calm for us - well, I can only speak for myself in this regard, but I imagine others may share this sentiment. However, as I reflect upon the principles noted above I am encouraged, and really liberated, by the ideas of focusing on mindsets rather than specific elements. Yes, details are important but taking a step back and remembering the long-term goals will help us increase the likelihood of sustainable change. Asking questions - What is it that we want our students to learn? What is the focus of our work? What are our collective hopes? - are all important ones to ask of ourselves, one another, and our students. Our discussion panels this week provided a structured forum for us to hear honest perspectives, and I hope we can establish more opportunities like this in the future.
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