Good Digital Citizens or Just Good Citizens?

“Digital Media can amplify the voices of the marginalized.”

Patricia Brown,  ISTE 2018

I am supposed to be discussing Digital Citizenship and creative and copyright usage in this blog post, and I will.  First, I want to talk about some other aspects of Digital Citizenship that were highlighted at this year’s ISTE  2018 keynote address. The ISTE 2018 Conference is described by ISTE as an opportunity to “immerse yourself in powerful ideas and inspirational speakers while connecting with innovative educators who share your passion for transformative learning.” If you ever have the opportunity to attend ISTE, DO IT! You will be inspired and connected with others who want to change the world. This year the keynote address was so relevant for what is happening in our country, with and to our children. So I am going to add a little to my original post because it just seems appropriate.

Besides making sure kids are safe online and teachers are using creative and digital content responsibly, we need to focus on creating responsible and empathetic digital citizens, or as I like to call them citizens because the digital world is a part of our world.  I am currently attending ISTE 2018 in Chicago. The first keynote session focused on the ISTE Standards for Digital Citizenship. Yes, there was a reference to being safe online, but an emphasis was placed on using technology to make our community (our world) better.  Yes, more of that, please! 

“Digital Citizenship is about using technology to improve their (students) community!”

Patricia Brown, ISTE 2018

Key Points about Digital Citizenship from ISTE 2018:

Must actively teach Digital Citizenship to ensure active and vibrant democracy for the future.

ISTE Standards for Digital Citizenship are more than a list of don’ts!

It really is a list of dos!

ISTE Standards for Educators

Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world. Educators:

3a Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.

3b Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.

3c Mentor students in safe, legal and ethical practices with digital tools and the protection of intellectual rights and property.

3d Model and promote management of personal data and digital identity and protect student data privacy.


ISTE Standards for Students

Students recognize the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical.

2a Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.

2b Students engage in a positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.

2c Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

2d Students manage their personal data to maintain digital privacy and security and are aware of data-collection technology used to track their navigation online.

Clearly, in this highly politicized and transformative environment, our students need to have the ability to recognize truth from fiction, which is essential to our society. We can’t teach it without some sort of context. We can tap into what they see and experience daily. Students are exposed to so much negativity. How can we help them process it? How can we help them find their voice, resources, and a way to contribute to our world? The digital world can be leveraged to support them and build them up to be responsible citizens of the world, not just good digital citizens. We need to make it our mission to facilitate their growth.

Now back to the original blog post…

Creative and Copyright Usage

Whenever I need to create a professional learning session for our teachers, I know that I will need to include a lot of digital media. Digital media and digital resources are staples in presentations, lessons, and activities. Teachers, students, and pretty much everyone we know expect to see media when learning. It is apart of everyday life. Digital media and digital resources make our information and messages more engaging, they make them come alive!  We want our teachers and students to share their knowledge and learning in a digitally socially responsible way. We need to support our learners in their journey in being responsible digital citizens. We as educators and leaders are charged with providing our learners; teachers and students with the correct method for using media and creative material.

In our middle school, our students are taught Digital Citizenship with Common Sense Media curriculum. Creative and Copyright Use are apart of the curriculum. Our students are gaining an understanding of what it means to be responsible in the digital age. We as educators need to emulate the expectations of a good digital citizen.

I am going to focus on modeling good digital citizenship for our teachers. Educators are very creative and are experts at developing engaging and interactive lessons and activities that integrate various media and digital sources. We want our educators to continue to be creative, but in a digitally responsible manner.

Personally, I have found the most effective way to support digital citizenship is to model the expected behavior. As an instructional coach and educational leader, there are numerous opportunities to do so. Whenever I host a professional learning session I use images from Creative Commons in my presentations.  It makes it easy to share and adapt work to include in your creations. Sometimes we can rely on the rule of “Fair Use”. Fair use is a trademark lawn that allows limited use of a creative property. Usually, it is acceptable if it is used for commentary or scholarship and/or it doesn’t replace the intended use of the original creation.

According to the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy...

Teachers can:

  1. Make copies of newspaper articles, TV shows, and other copyrighted works and use them and keep them for educational use-
  1. Create curriculum materials and scholarship with copyrighted materials embedded-
  2. Share, sell and distribute curriculum materials with copyrighted materials embedded-

Learners can:

  1. Use copyrighted works in creating new material-
  2. Distribute their works digitally if they meet the transformativeness standard-

Teachers can also use images that are considered copyright-friendly. I find the easiest way to do this is to adjust my Google Search to limit the images to common use for usage rights. Another way that I include images is to use my own photos or create images and graphics myself. I credit the images I use and request to share images of friends and colleagues.

When using music in a digital presentation, I use royalty free music from Ben Sound or Purple Planet. There are many choices that fit the theme of many projects and digital creations. Teachers can also access many online resources to curate digital material. The Media Education Lab has great resources that teachers can use in their content.

Recently, I worked with a group of students who created a video production about the technology in our school. We applied the above principles to our productions.

Tiger Tech Video

We made sure that we used our own photos, and royalty free music to create our video. It’s not quite finished, but it’s almost there!

Happy creating!



Making and Innovating: The Educational Leader’s Role

Eat. Sleep. Create.

We have the technology, now what?

Our school has been on this technology journey for about 4 and half years now. We began with a 1:1 initiative, which is now a staple amongst our learning tools. We have provided hours upon hours of professional learning opportunities to prepare our educators with the framework and standards for best practices for integrating technology within the classroom. And our teachers are rock stars. They have had ample experience and practice swimming in the SAMR pool. SAMR is a method of seeing how technology might impact learning. Each letter represents where teaching and learning is on the the continuum of technology integration. Technology is integrated through substitution, augmentation, modification, and finally, redefinition. As you move along the continuum, technology is deeply integrated and is an assumed part of the learning process. Our teachers have moved through substitution, augmentation, modification, and yes, redefinition to impact learning while leveraging technology. Was it an easy or smooth journey?  A big giant NO! It is not easy to see the positive implications of technology in the learning environment at first. Most of us, include students in this group, see our gadgets, apps, and software as forms of entertainment. It takes courage and a considerable mind-shift to realize that technology is a great tool that will change the way you deliver content and assess learning.


Educational leaders, such as administrators and instructional coaches provide support and a safe arena for practice and risk taking. Once you have the technology and you can see that teaching and learning are changing, how do you build upon that capacity? As educational leaders, we can look at the ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) Standards for Education Leaders


Equity and Citizenship Advocate

Leaders use technology to increase equity, inclusion, and digital citizenship practices. Education leaders:


Visionary Planner

Leaders engage others in establishing a vision, strategic plan and ongoing evaluation cycle for transforming learning with technology. Education leaders:


Empowering Leader

Leaders create a culture where teachers and learners are empowered to use technology in innovative ways to enrich teaching and learning. Education leaders:


Systems Designer

Leaders build teams and systems to implement, sustain and continually improve the use of technology to support learning. Education leaders:


Connected Learner

Leaders model and promote continuous professional learning for themselves and others. Education leaders:

As I reflect on the ISTE Standards for Education Leaders, there are several characteristics that stand out for me. Education Leaders need to transform learning by empowering teachers and learners. Their focus needs to remain on learning, not the technology. Education Leaders lead by example by connecting and sharing learning. It seems like a tall order. If you are already integrating technology and empowering learners, what’s next?

Try Making!

At FDR, we have ventured into the Maker Movement. What’s the Maker Movement? Check out this article in Scholastic to get a more complete description. But I’ll share how the Maker Movement came to us, and how it is giving our students more choice, more independence, and it is more child-centered. We received an Innovation grant from the Verizon Foundation to create an Innovation Lab. It provided us with 3D printers, a laser cutter, 360 cameras, Spheros, VR Stations, a vinyl cutter, littleBits, a sound and video production studio, circuits, bunches of arts and craft supplies, and I’m sure I am forgetting something. We have all of this technology, equipment, and materials, but the Innovation space was not ready to house the maker “stuff”. It all sounds super cool and awesome, right? Except, we the adults, did not know how to use the “stuff”.

As the instructional coach and supervisor of the Innovation Lab I was suppose to know how to use all of this technology. Giant gulp! The actual Innovation Lab was not ready for primetime, so I had some time to learn (fingers crossed). I started an afterschool STEAM club, and put some items on a cart. We started small using the Spheros and littleBits. The students were completely engaged. It did not matter if I knew all of the technology. Whatever I brought out, the students tinkered with it and learned it. I had students  figure out every stinking piece of technology that was presented to them. I learned from them! This was truly a child-centered experience. The students were empowered! I now have students who are experts with the 3D printer. They can design something in TinkerCad and then print it using our 3D printer. The laser cutter (totally intimidating to me), was another piece of technology that they just “figured out”. You name it, and they can figure it out. I have a student who is a master at the VR station. He created items in TinkerCad and then put them into VR. He later figured out how to use ANIMVR in the VR to animate drawings. I had to request that he write up directions easy enough for me to follow to replicate what he was doing. Of, course he did. This is the magic of the maker movement. As an educator, we are now facilitators of learning. We have definite areas of expertise, but we also can guide students in how they demonstrate their learning. What we can learn from students is how to use technology as a tool to share their learning. If we provide the supports and allow the learners to create, we are providing a more engaging learning environment. The trick is to get educators to follow the students. As educational leaders, we model that by following ISTE Standards. Encouraging educators to bring making into the classroom, allowing some time away from the testing focus, and modeling the mindset that learning is different now. If you can Google it, you probably don’t need to teach it.  We need to help students ask questions and find multiple solutions! I love this video that shares the big idea of why we need to provide opportunities to ask questions, explore, make, and create!


The Maker Movement allows kids to tap into a very human quality, to create. It allows our kids to say, “I did this! I made this!” Eventually, our Innovation Lab opened and classes, teachers, students, and our after-school club began to use all of the “cool stuff” in the space. Listen to what some of our students and our principal had to say about the space.


Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 10.27.22 AM

Innovative Maker Lab Video

The Moral Imperative of Sharing

Eep-!! This blog is late! It’s the end of the school year and there are events every other day at my school and my kid’s schools. Throw in my dad having a heart attack, iPad collection, and today a softball tournament. Well it’s been busy, crazy, and I’m just sharing it ALL with you!  I think I share a lot, because I am a teacher, or am I a teacher because I like to share a lot? Ugh, I can’t do the philosophical gymnastic routine for that concept, especially tonight! What I do know is most teachers I know like to share!

The world of education has always been about sharing. Sharing ideas, resources, programs, current events, and the news. Teachers love to share, they are naturals at it. It IS what they do, pretty much all day long. Many educators want to share more. Any time I put out a survey for professional development, the teachers request time to share with their colleagues.

Why is sharing so important? Why are teachers compelled to share? Is it an obligation? How does it ultimately help our students? How can we support sharing and adding to the greater body of knowledge?

Collaboration is key! Sharing ideas, procedures, and the practice and art of teaching, helps us as educators and ultimately our students.

Where and with whom do we share?  If you’re a GAFE (Google Apps For Education) School, Google  makes it possible. Google docs, sheets, forms, videos, and blogs are great places for sharing and collaboration. Google Plus Communities venture into the Social Media world. However, the community members have to be invited or approved. It’s a great way to share information in a monitored environment.  At our middle school, our principal has created a Google Plus Community for our parents and teachers. Teachers, staff, and building administrators can post information to the community for the parents and guardians of our students.  Events, assignments, activities, athletics, and daily pictures of classroom activities can be posted. Families are invited virtually into the building, thus creating a sense of community and improving relations. As an educator you can join educational communities to gather resources and share experiences.

Another great way to access resources and information about teaching is to follow other educators on Twitter. This allows for global collaboration and sharing. This past fall I facilitated a Professional Development (PD) at our school about using Twitter for Professional Learning and Professional Growth. Why Twitter? Well, it’s personalized. You can follow topics and tweets that are relevant to your content area, grade level, or interests, You can check the tweets at your convenience. You are not relegated to an assigned seat at a PD session in your district, it’s on your time, when you want it. Think of it as Professional Learning On Demand!

The Twitter PD was well received. Many of my colleagues signed up for Twitter that day. In fact, some had trouble verifying their accounts, because  so many teachers were signing up with the same email ending. I was hopeful that my fellow educators were going to jump on and Tweet and share about their expertise, experience, and knowledge and maybe even their classes. We have rock star teachers, who do great stuff!!! Some did! We always have those early adopters who want to experiment and try things out. But, for most, they became stalkers at first, and then slowly began to tweet. Stalking is fine! As an educator you can gather a great deal of knowledge and access resources by stalking. But there is even more learning in sharing! There is even more value in adding to the body of knowledge! Why?

When we are contributing to the greater body of knowledge and accessing it as a resource, we become networked with other educators, sharers, and leaders. The networked teacher is learning forward. Adult learners need a variety of resources to be actively engaged. They need to demonstrate their voice and choice. Using social media allows them to be engaged, self-directed, and reflective about their learning and practice. The reflection is MAGIC! When do we, as educators really get to think and process how a particular lesson, activity, or day went? Maybe for five minutes in the car on the way home? It certainly is not enough. Sharing opens you up to feedback, comments, and others’ perspectives. This enriches the teaching practice. Think of it as a dance! Sure you can dance by yourself, but you can have more fun dancing with others.

Social Media can be intimidating if you are not use to it, or understand who can see your tweets. I think this may be the culprit for may educators not tweeting. I use my Twitter account primarily for education related topics. I don’t post my personal opinions, politics, or events from my vacations. I keep it focused on education. This helps me connect with other like minded educators. Educators have valid reasons for being concerned about social media, however keeping it focused on education will help you to self monitor your tweets.

Tweeting Tips

So where do you begin? Besides checking out my Twitter PD Presentation, you can also follow the recommendations on They have a great Teacher’s Guide for Using Twitter. If you don’t know  who to follow, try following  other Educators. We Are Teachers has a great list for educators to follow.  


Good luck, and I hope I see you in the Twitterverse!