For this project, I worked with Nicola Takizawa on Option 2. We chose to create a unit that guides the process of implementing student blogs at the end of Junior/Elementary school and incorporates the key principals of Digital Citizenship with a focus on the positive aspects of being a digital citizen – namely, harnessing and using your power for good.
I had a specific idea in mind when I put out a call for a collaborator on this project. At the end of last year, it was agreed that having students start their PYP Exhibition AND learn the basics of blogging was too much. We wanted our students to be familiar with blogging prior to beginning the Exhibition when this would be the forum for group and individual sharing of ideas, knowledge, reflection, and learning.
I am learning that when you are working with a larger group of teachers and students (last year there were five classes of 18, this year four classes of 22) that you have to be clear and specific in your guidelines and expectations. You also need to be both supportive of the expertise of the teachers in the team and yet at the same time, true to the development of ideas and philosophy with regard to the implementation of technology in education. It can’t be a decision that is made purely on the comfort level of the teachers but it also can’t be a decision made independently of these teachers. It is a balancing act! For a while I have been working on my own blogging guidelines for students thanks to the response from my PLN via a Twitter shoutout a few months ago. I hope to see these develop with input from our teachers, students, and parents.
I was (and still am) adamant that we focus on the positive. I like the inclusion of branding and developing a voice and hope to see these things embedded into our daily curriculum. I would also like to see the building of Digital Citizenship skills (such as the Digital Passport) in our younger grades. The more I work with students across the Junior School, the more I am seeing how capable they are, given the right guidance. My second graders are able to appropriately source images and we already include our students in password choice, private vs. personal information, and responsible use (among many other things). For this unit, I really want to encourage and inspire kids and help them see that by having a blog, they have the opportunity to create and share learning that may not otherwise be possible.
Here is our unit planner:
I loved the opportunity to work with someone else, however I think it confirmed for me how challenging it can be (despite the amazing advances in technology) to communicate with people in different time zones. Nicola and I utilized the message service within COETAIL but quickly dropped that in favor of a collaborative Google Doc with comments. Ultimately we ended up with lots of shared ideas, however my feedback to Nicola was that I would have loved it if we could have pulled off a Skype chat to nut out the basics of the unit and then refine it in the Google Doc chat. It was still possible the way we did it but I feel it might have been more beneficial to have a “face to face” chat before the planning began. Nonetheless, it was great to have someone to share ideas with and get inspiration from during this process.