Role Models - Ideas on Becoming “Internet Awesome”

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Role Models. We all have them. Maybe it’s your parents. Maybe it’s a singer or athlete. Maybe it’s your teacher. Whoever it is, you look up to them for one reason or another. Most likely it’s because they have done something you aspire to do yourself. However, for our youngest generations these aspirations will change and with it, possibly their role models. So how can these role models evolve to fit the growing aspirations of the children growing up in a technology heavy world? It’s a question teachers, as role models, continue to ponder. 

But is the teacher the only role model? To a student possibly, but who do the teachers lean on when change is needed? Who can they rely to help them become digital leaders for their students when they are swamped with curriculum changes, differentiating the needs of every child and various activities and meetings? Administrators need to be role models to demonstrate the evolution of pedagogy through digital citizenship (DC) lessons and techniques. 

Before diving into creative ideas for DC it’s important to keep in mind the objectives we want our students to learn. ISTE believes “Twenty-first century readers and writers need to:
• Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
• Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
• Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
• Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
• Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts
• Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments"

“A digitally literate teacher knows how their students engage and learn and can advocate for the right digital tools and technologies in their classroom” ( The same can be said for administrators. As an administrator it’s crucial to know where your staff swims in the SAMR pool and to advocate for the tools that can help their students. All students and classrooms have different needs. Being a resource bank of digital tools to help teachers meet their students’ needs is an invaluable skill for a 21st century administrator; one teachers inevitably would look up to. 

There are numerous ways for administrators to be role models for teachers in this capacity of DC. Below I have taken Googles “Be Internet Awesome” and related it to ideas administrators could use to be a lead learner, provide professional development for teachers and become a role model for their school and beyond. 

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Be Internet Smart

Giving credit is crucial to maintaining one's intellectual property. Schools have an obligation to help students understand the importance of copyright regulations and wade the murky waters that come with it. A professor at Cabrini University, Lyn Hilt, posted this Infograph from Silvia Tolisano at her Blog: Langwitches and think it does an incredible job laying out the thought process for appropriate use of others' work.

One way to accomplish this goal is by making sure the stakeholders in your building are also aware of the rules and regulations following copyrights. Administrators could create a bulletin board in the school for teachers and students to find resources to be Internet Smart. On the bulletin board could be QR codes with videos for students (such as this one from Common Sense Media), Creative Commons Search site for available content and Infographs like the one above. Furthermore, A QR code could be synced to iPhoto Albums where the administrator or teacher collects photos students can used for an assignment. Creating different albums for each class or subject and attaching the albums to a  QR code for them to access following these steps from Apple. Having a central reference point where students and teachers visit throughout the year also serves as a reminder that the school is creating valuable digital citizens. 

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention an important part of being Internet Smart is instilling in our students importance of their own creativity, imagination and innovation. Part of this bulletin board needs to remind students that they are important participants in the digital world and their work is to be valued. Wouldn't it be awesome to create your own "Creative Commons" space QR code where everyone in the school (?), district (?), community (?) contributes their ideas and work?

Internet Strong

Being Internet Strong is difficult. It's hard to switch your passwords every month, use symbols and letters without sequence, and make them different from site to site. However, new technology has allowed people to store passwords in secure folders people can't access through facial and fingerprint recognition. This will hopefully aid in overcoming the difficulties in remembering the numerous passwords. Since many schools do not have this technology, helping staff and students create this Strong mentality will take time. For students, starting with the idea that your passwords are to be kept between you and a trusting adult such as your teacher is a great place to start. From there introduce your teachers to Google's Interland (an interactive game that focuses on all the traits noted to develop good digital citizens) and heading to the "Tower of Treasure" to keep your secrets safe is a tremendous resource.

Be Internet Alert

One website I love using with my third graders is the infamous Tree Octopus. After reading the website the students are amazed that an octopus can live in a tree, but upon further discussion they learn this is not possible. Through National Geographic's website on octopuses we realize this information is in fact false and misleading. This would be an excellent activity for a 10 minute kick-off for a DC inservice. Sure some teachers will see through it, hopefully some students do too, but it will lend itself to great a discussion on validity and give the teachers a demonstrated lesson to use in their classrooms. 

Be Internet Kind

Cyber bullying is an easy way for people to hide behind their screens. We want to create a culture of positivity online. A great ongoing PD would be to create a Padlet Wall and have teachers post an article they find on digital citizenship. It can be lessons, news, journal articles, or their own blogs. Have them practice “liking” others posts via comments that positively praise and challenge the information. See if teachers feel this could be a valuable way for students to post artwork, book reviews and “fun facts” that their classmates can comment on to build each other up. 

Be Internet Brave

By helping teachers and students learn to be Internet Kind, they begin to build the courage and the gumption to be not only a member of the Web, but a participating member. One key way to be brave is to Blog. As an administrator, setting up a school Blog is a great way to demonstrated to the staff the value in being an active participant in your field. There are numerous sites in education to set up Blogs like Edublog and Blogger . With any luck, some teachers will see the value and begin to utilize the tool themselves. As this trickle down effect continues, teachers may begin to push this digital citizenship concept into the minds of their students. Apps such as Seesaw, Schoology, and Edmodo Create safe places for students in classrooms to share work, Blog and respond to classmates. It’s the beginning stages of being Internet Brave in a relatively safe environment. 

Finally a bonus Google does not include...

Be Internet Aware

Our students need to view learning as something that happens beyond the four walls of their classroom. Being Internet Aware can help students realize the power of global learning. I’ve always thought that professional development is too confined. Even a school district of teachers collaborating together seems to only skim the surface of the information out there. What if a group of high school history teachers from Pennsylvania working on civil war curriculum Skyped with high school teachers from South Carolina? Not only might they gain insight beyond their anthologies and notions, they would be making connections with teachers to set up discussions, debates and experiences beyond the classroom. 
How about setting up a Google Hangout with other schools dipping into digital citizenship such as Pequea Valley S.D.  and Indian School for the Deaf . There are amazing people out there. Bring them into your school seamlessly via live video feeds and be a role model for your teachers by showing them the power of being Internet Aware. 

Administrators Need to be Internet Awesome

Administrators must find the right formula of help teachers get their students to be “Internet Awesome” while also protecting students’ data and privacy rights. It is important for districts to practice what they preach when it comes to being good digital citizens. Administrators must also take on the role of protecting students' rights and privacy throughout the process. There are numerous laws pertaining to this protection from acronyms such as CIPA and COPPA to FERPA and FRCP. Feel free to click on the links and familiarize yourself with these laws as I have done. It is a wide rang of laws that goes even further than just acronyms. For an excellent resource visit Wesley Fryer's Wikipage on Unmasking the Digital Truth to get a solid overview.

These laws and regulations are not designed to be a nuisance; rather, they are implemented to help protect students from their own unawareness and to guide schools in maintaining privacy records. This is especially important when students are under the age of 13 years old. It's important to remember that if policy sheets are signed for students, as many districts do, the district becomes the "parent" at school. Since administrators and teachers cannot conceivably watch each child in 1:1 districts or when 25 students are on the computer, they are still responsible for their actions, it must start with helping our students become Internet Awesome. As role models we have the power to change perspective and behavior. Administrators must be Internet Smart, Strong, Alert, Kind, Brave and Aware. For the safety and well-being of students schools must consider the importance of implementing Digital Citizenship into the classroom via the students' role models...their teachers. 


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