Friday, March 14, 2014

Clarity Reflection

ESU7 is just about done with the first cohort of the Clarity survey from BrightBytes, and a second cohort has just started.  As I have been looking at the data from an ESU-wide level, and at the district level there are some things that concern me a little.  I am finding some changes that need to be made in the trainings and workshops that I offer to the teachers and administrators of ESU7.

I really like the data that I am getting from these surveys.  I am realizing that from the classroom standpoint that teachers and students are needing some help in the 4C’s area (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity).  These are the skills that students are needing to succeed in the world today.  I at least have an idea of how I can change my trainings to model the 4C’s so they can take that back to their schools and improve in this area.

Another area for needing improvement is Student Digital Citizenship.  I think that this area is always going to be needing improvement.  There is so little time in the day to teach this to students that it gets left behind.  I am helping a school out with a technology bootcamp and discussing digital citizenship with their students.   I am sharing the digital citizenship results with those students from their Clarity survey.  Of the four questions that were asked, I am covering three of them in my presentation.  Maybe students just need to hear about this from someone other than teachers that they see every day for it to make an impact.

The last area that I am going to talk about is Professional Learning.  Why would I be talking about this?  Teachers are saying they get technology PD from their district during the year.  It is the willingness of teachers to go to workshops, trainings, edcamps, twitter, etc on their own time that isn't sponsored by their school or when they are off contract time.  If we don’t do this, how are we modeling what we are preaching about being lifelong learners to our students.  I like to promote those gatherings that fit the “off contract” time PD.  Edcamps, summer workshops, summer conferences, twitter chats and more.  I will keep doing this as long as I can because it is a valuable experience for teachers to connect with others outside their district.  I have even said in the past and will continue to say: if I am going to an EdCamp (Omaha or Central Nebraska) I will drive from Columbus if anyone wants to meet me here!  The offer is open when I go to EdCamp Omaha on March 22nd, and I still have PLENTY of room! Also, if you are on my way, I will stop and pick you up!

Finally, a huge thanks to BrightBytes for Clarity.  They are very easy to work with and willing to help you in any way that they can.  If you haven’t heard of them until now, you need to check them out. Also see this Hanging with ESU7 episode talking about Clarity.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Digital Citizenship

I have had the privilege of talking to some students at a school in ESU7 about digital citizenship for a bootcamp they are having before they roll out their own 1:1 computer initiative for the fourth quarter. I have seen four of the six classes that will be getting the computers on Tuesday night.  I have gone into the session telling them that my goal is to scare the daylights out of them.  I may accomplish this goal with some of them, and with some I may not.  But if I make them rethink what they are doing, then I have accomplished something.

I am talking very matter of factly with them in regards to sexting, online predators, cyberbullying, and creating that digital footprint they would be proud of.  It is a serious topic and there may be some topics that they don’t want to talk or hear about.  But it needs to be done.  (Side note: this is one of the schools in ESU7 that took the Clarity survey and student digital citizenship was a category that was low.)  I am sharing information with them that I will also be sharing with their parents at a Tuesday night parents meeting.  I am letting them know that I will be telling their parents to be asking questions about their online habits.

I know I have reached some students already.  I have had them tell me themselves in front of their classmates that they are doing some of the things that I am talking about and they need to change.  To me that is a #eduwin already, and I am not even done.  

These talks need to be had with students.  If teachers in the district are talking about it, some kids may just tune out.  That means it is time to bring someone else in.  I am being VERY honest with these students.  I will also be very honest with the parents.  I have shared some experiences of my own.  Let them connect to me a little as well.  I also try to add a little humor to a serious topic.  

Get to your point Otis!  That is probably what you might be thinking right now.  I think that I have several points in this post.  First, teaching of digital citizenship is important.  We all know that. But the teaching of the topics that students may not want to hear about and the facts associated with those topics will open their eyes to what they are doing.  Second, I am enjoying teaching students again.  I never lost that when I moved into this job two years ago.  But there are time I need a “kid fix”/”classroom fix” and this is filling that.  To know that I have reached someone and will be changing the way they act online makes me feel good!

Here is to creating good digital citizens with a positive digital footprint!