Our 21st Century libraries are the perfect place to explore, and what better way to practice digital citizenship than by connecting with others around the world!
Common Sense Media’s vast website is chock-full of resources related to kids, tweens, teens, parents, and media. Their Digital Literacy and Citizenship educational resources and curriculum are well written, aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and they are kid, tween, and teen friendly. Their Power of Words, Pause and Think Online are great videos to share with elementary school students, and Oversharing: Think Before You Post is perfect for tweens and teens.
One way to incorporate the Digital Citizenship curriculum and to honor the Digital Citizenship pledge is to connect with other schools via Google Hangout or Skype, and practice what they have learned in a fun way. By celebrating various literature-inspired holidays with other schools within your district, the United States, or worldwide, elementary students can hone their 21st Century communication skills.
In September, we celebrate courage, creativity, and collaboration with International Dot Day, We read books about art and taking risks, and share dot-inspired art with other schools.
In October, we celebrate Read for the Record and collaborate with other schools to share the book of the year. Also in October is Digital Citizenship Week - the perfect time to teach this topic, and practice new skills like communicating kindly with someone else online.
In March we celebrate World Read Aloud Day where my students connect with other classrooms around the United States to share information about each other’s state and read aloud to one another. Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie books are perfect books for Gerald, and the other, Piggie, Older students can the younger grades - one school can read the part of read two-part poems such as Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman or read a Readers’ Theater version of a book, such as Judy Schachner’s Skippyjon Jones- Lost in Spice, dividing the parts between the two schools.
Another favorite holiday I celebrate with my students Poem in Your Pocket Day. This year, after reading a few examples of list poems, we collaboratively created list poems, using Google Hangout, and typing together on Google Drive as our students created and dictated the lines of the poems.
As students go farther and farther into their exploration of cyberspace, powerful digital citizenship lessons such as these will serve them well.
Melissa McDonald is the School Library Media Specialist at Flower Hill Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and is the author of the blog, The Creative Librarian - Adventures in School Librarianship.