Monday, October 21, 2013

Digital Citizenship Week

Educators around the globe are celebrating Connected Educator’s Month and this week (October 21st to 25th)  is Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Week.

All of us are adding content online more frequently, but are we doing it with thought to our digital history? Teachers and students need to be reminded of the following questions as we text, chat, post, download files,and update profiles: Are we creating content or borrowing another’s, are we respectful or damaging, are we communicating “just the right” information or providing too much?

Your digital footprint is your digital history and is not the same concept as internet safety although it goes along with it.Thinking about your digital footprint is recognizing that every time you go online you create a digital trail that will stay with you forever! Students have a different idea of what forever means but encouraging a positive digital footprint will help them succeed in the future (especially with college and job applications).

If you are considering a digital project this year with your students (blogging, podcasts, movie or story creation) planning needs to be done. Perhaps the students will create a project map as an outline that leads to a written script; and they will probably be searching online and collaborating. Before you start the project consider adding a digital footprint activity Share this video from Common Sense Media  and ask this guiding question:“What online information do you want connected to your name in 10-15 years?”

The link below is the complete activity from the creator of the Tidy Teacher blog
The foot poster is a great reminder to students of what a digital footprint means and should be shared.

What do we need to talk about in a digital footprint lesson?
Common Sense has a scope and sequence tool to access apporpriate lessons by grade level. The three most relevant elements are Relationships and Community, Digital Footprint and Reputation, and Creative Credit and Copyright

Edmodo is partnering with Common Sense Media as a resource for educators where we can enter the discussion and post ideas. You do not have to sign up for Edmodo to access this. Below are two pdf documents to get started with this topic and the link to the discussion for educators.
Elementary plan for net-etiquette
Educators Starter kit

Youtube developed a digital curriculum last year for educators The lessons are for older students but there is a lot here for teachers to learn.

For the adults: learn what our students really do online and how important it is to their learning:

“self-reflect before you self-reveal”
"Internet Safety: Rules of the Road for Kids | Common Sense Media." 2011. 18 Oct. 2013 <>

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Creating Games for learning

Mr. Michael Geiger at George Watkins Elementary School has discovered an interest in creating games that will help his students learn math. He asked me to investigate and it took me a while to understand what he had in mind. Other teachers recently expressed an interest in the subject, after a recent meeting at George Watkins. The idea of the teachers creating subject-specific games is a great one. The game can be individualized for the class and the SOL. One caution, it can be a time consuming (and addictive) activity.

What would make it even better is to get the students in on the fun.Creating digital games is a great way to get students thinking and engaged. Perhaps they could create a game to illustrate a learning goal. They could extend that learning by letting others play the game and collect feedback. (Of course teachers would have to pre-teach acceptable forms of feedback.).

I am most familiar with Scratch as an animation/game creator. This program is free from MIT and encourages programming, critical, and systems thinking. Another very popular game development tool is Gamestar Mechanic. Both of these resources have tutorials and guides for educators and students. Common Sense Media also likes Sploder for game creation.

If this list is not enough for game design check out this! of Game Making and Learning and a wiki of Game Building tools from Magical

For those of you interested in learning more about the value of games in learning I encourage you to explore this! collection of articles on the subject:

Happy Gaming and remember I can help!