Category Archives: Course2

Course 2 Final Project: Stranger Danger!

Believe it or not, the end of Course 2 is almost upon us! And for the Course 2 Final Project, my group and I chose Option 1. Becky, James, and I have created a Responsible Use Policy that is specific to the grades that we teach. We originally started from scratch, and then, we went on to incorporate many ideas from the responsible use policy used at Becky’s school. Here is what my group came up with for our Course 2 Final Project:


Honestly, I was at a total loss of where to start with this, and I really wanted to be a contributing member of my group 🙂 My school does not currently have any sort of Responsible Use Policy/Agreement, so I did have to start from scratch. Where to first? You might ask! Google, of course! I Googled “responsible use policy agreement,” and this is what came up:

Google Screenshot

Aside from my very knowledgeable group members, my most valuable resources for this project were: Acceptable Use Policy from WikipediaBrown University’s Acceptable Use Policy, and Northern Illinois University’s Acceptable Use Policy. I read through these resources and picked apart what might be useful for the acceptable use policy we were creating. A Google Doc was started, and this was the medium through which my group members and I collaborated on this project. It was AWESOME! We were able to add our ideas, notes, thoughts, etc. as well as make comments on our group members’ work. It also allowed us to work on the document as needed when it was most convenient for us. We didn’t all have to be on the document at the same time. We just left notes for each other as we made additions, deletions, and modifications to our policy. I thought that it was a very valuable and interactive way of collaborating and communicating with each other.

Language and Topics

We decided to create an acceptable use policy specifically for students in grades six through nine as all of our group members teach at least one of those grades, and it seemed fitting as those grades are a transitional time for students both leaving elementary school and entering into high school. We choose 4 specific headings: Purpose, Scope, Policy, and Related Links. There were a number of reasons for this. One – many of the other policies that we researched had similar headings to these. Two – we felt that this language would be appropriate for middle school and early high school. And three – we thought these headings were inclusive but not overwhelming . We also chose sub-headings for our Policy section to make it very clear for our students to understand the policy, and those sub-headings included: Acceptable Use of Technology, Unacceptable Use of Technology, Code of Conduct: Netiquette, and Consequences.

My group focused on topics that we thought were most relevant to our students. Within the Policy section, we gave explicit examples of acceptable and unacceptable uses of technology. We wrote our policy with our students in mind hoping that they will read and easily understand the policy we have created for them.

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I titled my post: Stranger Danger! because I feel that our responsible use policy is helping to keep our students safe. When I was a little girl, I remember my parents sitting me down and discussing how important it was NOT to talk to strangers and what to do in situations that might involve strangers. My parents just wanted to keep me safe. And in a way, I feel like we are doing this with our students through the creation of our acceptable use policy. Yes, it includes the dos and don’ts of technology use, but the purpose of creating such a policy, ultimately, is to keep our students safe.

Sharing is caring 🙂

Now that we have created this policy, we must share it with our students, and I am not exactly sure how I am going to do this just yet! Instead of just sharing the document with them and discussing it, I was hoping to come up with a more fun and interactive way of sharing this information with my students. What do you think? I warmly welcome your comments below.

Purpose, Motivation, and Connections

I’m having a really difficult time coming up with ANYTHING to write about for this blog post. I just can’t seem to relate my experiences as a young student with the students of today. Today, technology is a HUGE part of the lives of our youth. I am trying to think back to when I was in grade school, in high school, and even in college. I don’t think I really could have been empowered to use technology to make a positive impact on my world. It just wasn’t an option…then.

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But, it’s different now. We, as educators in this day and age, CAN empower students to use technology to make a positive impact in our world. I got the chills listening to and watching this TEDx video:

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This video was truly empowering and inspirational for me. It’s AMAZING to see what our youth have accomplished and are accomplishing with the aid of technology. I want to know what I need to do to get my students to accomplish such marvelous achievements! In the above video, the speaker, Scott McLeod, suggests making these tasks curricular (not extracurricular). Make them part of our curriculum. I LOVE this idea.

As I envision my own students participating in such projects, like Martha Payne’s blog: NeverSeconds and Kevin Curwick’s Twitter posts, 3 words come to mind – purpose, motivation, and connections.

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In order to empower our students to use technology to make a positive impact on our world, they must be passionate about their project. They must feel a sense of purpose for what they are trying to accomplish.






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When our students feel that there is a purpose for what they are doing, then they are usually more motivated to do it. They have that “get it done” attitude. Working towards a goal is different when you are actually motivated by the possible end result. It makes the task more meaningful.






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Lastly (and maybe most importantly), our students must have the knowledge and skills necesary to make those conections via technology. Social media is HUGE, and it’s an excellent way to get noticed for better or for worse 😉 and promote whatever it is you are passionate about. Most likely, there will be others that are just as passionate about your project as you are, and avenues, such as social media, will allow our students to make  those important connections.

I want my students to be involved global citizens. I want them to be positive contributors to society. How can we teach them to accomplish such tasks with the use of technology? I really don’t do any kind of activity or project like this with my classes. Do you? How do you incorporate these types of activities or projects into your curriculum? I warmly welcome your comments below.

Not. My. Problem.

We all know digital citizenship is important, but whose responsibility is it anyway?

Digital Citizenship Skills

I have thought about this question many times during this course and even somewhat before I started COETAIL: Whose job is it to teach these digital citizenship (DC) skills? I can imagine that many teachers’ quick response might be, “Well, I don’t teach tech, so it’s not my responsibility.” But I am not so sure that this is the approach we should have as digital citizens ourselves. I ask the question,

If not us, then who?

It is all of our responsibilities, as teachers, to teach DC especially in the context of our disciplines. DC might look very different in my science classes as opposed to your [fill-in-the-blank] classes. Of course, if your students are taking a technology class, this would be a very appropriate place for them to learn about DC, but I think it’s also important for our students to learn about DC in context. I think that makes it more obvious and relevant for our students to learn about how they can really be good digital citizens all of the time. If you are looking to incorporate DC into your lesson plans, these look like great resources: Digital Citizenship Lesson Plans from Common Sense Media.

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Necessary Conversations

When and where should we be having such conversations with students? There is no time like the present! I do think teachers need to start having these necessary conversations with our students NOW.  I don’t think that teaching a stand alone lesson about DC is completely necessary (although it may be in some cases). Since most of us are teaching lessons that incorporate technology on some level some of the time, I think those lessons are the ones in which we could integrate a lesson on DC into an already existing lesson. If we don’t start talking about DC with our students, then who is going to talk with them about it? We can’t assume that they are experts on this topic. I am not even an expert on this topic yet, but I am working towards that 🙂 The above linked lesson plans are a good place for us to start thinking about how we can incorporate DC into our lessons.

The following video shows conversations that Dr. Devorah Heitner, who has her Ph.D. in Media/Technology and Society from Northwestern University, has had with some middle school students. It sheds some light on THEIR ideas/understandings about technology and digital citizenship:

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Dr. Heitner suggests that we, as parents and/or teachers, have conversations with our students. Ask them questions and come up with solutions together.


Are we taking this seriously? Sometimes, it becomes obvious that my students actually know less about technology and even less about DC than I had previously thought. I will oftentimes assume that they are all knowing when it comes to technology and DC, but that is not always the case. But we need to ask them about it, talk to them about it, engage them in conversation about DC. Before COETAIL, I will be honest, I was that teacher who thought it wasn’t THEIR responsibility to teach my students about DC – it was the tech teacher’s responsibility or the parents’ responsibility – not mine! But I am having a mind-shift. It is MY responsibility. I am their science teacher, and it is my responsibility to teach my students about DC. DC runs across all disciplines as well as into our personal lives. I want to model exemplar digital citizenship for my students, and it needs to start with educating them about it NOW. I warmly welcome your comments below.

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