Kindergarten through 12th-grade students across the Rye Neck Schools participated in a variety of activities and engaged in meaningful conversations about cyberbullying, online communication, internet community and respect during Digital Citizenship Week from Oct. 15-19.
Having implemented a districtwide digital literacy curriculum this year, teachers and administrators used the platform to jumpstart their lessons and empower their students as the next generation of responsible digital citizens. In partnership with Common Sense Education, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children thrive in a world of media and technology, the lessons focused on the power of positive words.
“As a Google Reference District, we have chosen to incorporate technology into our classes and with that comes the responsibility to teach our students how to use it responsibly, as well,” Instructional Technology Coordinator Mary Lanza said. “We chose to focus on the power of positive words because the basis of our participation online, regardless of age, should revolve around respect and compassionate communication. What it takes to be a good citizen in real life are the same skills needed to be a good citizen online.”
At Daniel Warren Elementary School, Principal Tara Goldberg introduced the idea of an internet community to all students during her morning announcement on Oct. 15. Throughout the week, librarian and media teacher Leigh Ann Kowalchick-Porphy and teacher Dara Goodman continued the conversation with students during their library and computer classes. Kindergartners and first-graders discussed what an internet community is and how we connect with people online, while second-graders discussed cyberbullying and how to be kind online.
“Having these conversations now is sort of laying the foundation, the building blocks of what we want them to think and understand in the future,” Goldberg said. “We’re embedding the idea of being kind, thoughtful and intentional with what they’re putting out there, via texting or emails. They still want to be a good person and be kind.”
At F.E. Bellows Elementary School, all lessons connected to the schools’ theme of being a superhero as the students discussed the impact of positive words and what it means to be a good digital citizen. In addition, fourth-graders drew comic strips to illustrate how to stand up for someone who is being cyberbullied.
At the middle school, students participated in mixed grade-level conversations with their English teachers and guidance counselors about being an upstander online. They linked their discussions to their summer reading book, “Bystander” by James Preller. Meanwhile, at the high school, freshmen and sophomores discussed the effect of their comments and relationships online, while juniors and seniors reflected on how online behavior can affect relationships and reputations.
Lanza said the conversations during Digital Citizenship Week served as a great opportunity to encourage positive online behaviors.
“We believe this is a responsibility that falls on our entire community,” said Lanza, who added that parents received family resources to support what was being taught in the classroom, so they can continue the conversations at home. “How often do students in our high school discuss the same topic as children in Daniel Warren? We loved the idea of this being a conversation an entire family could have at home.”
For more information, visit www.commonsense.org/education/digital-citizenship.