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About hcslearningcommons

We are a team of librarians working at Heritage Christian Schools learning commons. HCS Schools consist of a Christian DL school, and a campus school in beautiful Kelowna, British Columbia.

Learning to balance Digital Citizenship, Research and Publishing!

This article is a reblog from Pippa Davies blog.

own work

To protect or not protect our students from the net, that is the question? Does censorship, or continuing education work? I believe that the more we help guide our students online, the more likely they will, by osmosis, become excellent purveyors of online content, and creators of their own digital identity. They will learn to value what is true, worthy, current and reliable online!

At what age does critical thinking begin; when do we as parents, or teachers help our students learn the critical thinking that goes with the territory of being online in the 21 century? We used to think that around 11/ 12 years of age was the age of logic according to educational theorists like Piaget. However university professors can attest to the fact, that many graduate students still do not understand Bloom’s taxonomy of higher level thinking, when publishing their first hypothesis. So how do we expect children as young as six to assimilate, adapt and formulate their own opinions on what they are reading online? We see toddlers consuming content already on iPads, and we know the research shows that reading digital content is all part of improving literacy skills at younger ages, but again where are the parameters?

Here are some suggestions to help your students incorporate critical thinking skills, and be able to learn how to evaluate online:

  • Parents are encouraged to be involved in providing guidance for their students, with tools to help them assimilate content using computer filters, curation, and organizational apps to help collect websites that pertain to education and their interests. (Bookmarking tools such as Symbaloo, Mentor Mob, Scoopit, Diigo, and RSS feeds, or apps like Flipboard, are all excellent ideas for helping your students traverse the net and share with others). But for younger students, starting with resources like Commonsense Media, or Media Smarts, and our HCOS linking library to help find quality authoritative resources, are also useful. Remember those great, child friendly search engines too, like SweetSearch and Google SafeSearch for Kids. Set guidelines for Internet time appropriate for your family’s needs and balance. Teach digital citizenship lessons using online games for younger students, and for high school students encourage the creation of a digital dossier!
  • Once your students are old enough to enjoy more time online provide some critical thinking lessons. Project based learning will help create an environment to substantiate the kind of cognitive concepts you want to see in place, to ensure your students can gravitate towards aggregating data online. Teach your students to research projects that relate to their passions and interests, which in turn will lead to engaging discoveries!
  • Teach your students about brainstorming a topic using keywords. Discover lessons that help with keyword search in Google Lesson plans. Create topics which include basic questions that include what, when and where, as well as more open ended questions, why, and how?
  • Assess their work based on how they went about the research process, as opposed to the content they listed, copied or shared. Give good marks for a qualitative bibliography, where students have researched links from wiki’s or other references from websites. Share tools like Bib me to make their bibliography stress free! Make sure students have gone beyond Google to find their sites, using educational indexes, following links in wiki’s, and academic databases like Ebscohost. Your school or public library has access to academic databases like Discovery Streaming, BrainPop, and Expert Space.  All of these 21st century tools will help your students take their next project to an A!
  • Applaud if they have used different means for sharing their projects like video, podcasting, animation, virtual worlds, infographics or blogs. All of these online tools teach 21 century skills, and help students create a digital identity which is true to their learning style, and may be collated from Kindergarten through graduation as a reflective tool for online learning, and also for a life long digital portfolio!
  • Help your high school student create their own blog to share their academic authority or hobbies using Ning or Blogger/Wordpress, and if you have a younger student teach them how to blog on moderated sites like Kidblog.
  • If your student is using social media as a means for collaborative learning make sure that you as a parent are fully acquainted with what they are doing online during their school and personal time.  Join their social networks or find out more about their means of communication such as What’s App.
  • Plan the research process using Big Six skills, mind mapping like Popplet, databases like Webspiration, and research/writing websites like Owl of Purdue. Encourage and teach your students to learn how to research what makes an infographic appealing, and then suggest they make their own infographic using tools like Piktochart.
  • Most important before your student has the freedom to explore the net on their own, expand on how to evaluate a website. Kathy Shrock’s Critical Evaluation of Information website has a plethora of lesson plans for you to share with your students on web evaluation. Teach copyright and creative commons to your students if they are already publishing. This could be part and parcel of a middle school journey into becoming an educated, and discerning producer of content.

Once your student understands how to evaluate websites, blogs and infographics, they will be more critically attuned to sharing a digital identity, understand how to assess their own presentations, and be safer online for life.

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I think therefore I blog

Thankful for my network

Thankful for my network (Photo credit: krossbow)
Three years ago when I began my adventure on Twitter, I was amazed at how I could find such value added professional development at my fingertips.  Having blogged for a few years as a teacher librarian for a distance learning school,  I realized that having VOICE was something that resonated deeply within me, and many of my colleagues and students.  I had taught my students  about academic authority, sharing ones passion and reflecting accuracy and currency (all those lovely teacher librarianship question’s).  But now the crunch was up!  Could I role model that myself? Could I learn all these weird and wonderful hashtags, how would I engage in virtual chats, and could I make friends with strangers?

Three years later I am loving the ENGAGEMENT!  Discovering curation and sharing on Scoopit, Twitter, and other social networks like Ning,  has widened my knowledge base, helped me research pertinent scholarly articles, archive for my patrons, and also help me make friends.  One of these friends and fellow teacher librarian from England Elizabeth Hutchinson   collaborated via blog and virtual classroom with our campus and distance learning grade 6/7 students, on Chocolate Lily and Kate Greenaway children’s’ books.  We hoped our students would imbibe cultural sensitivities and global awareness as they studied the language similarities and differences between England and Canada.  We laughed at our accents, shared our silly phrases, and reached out to connect on a heart level around picture books.

On our Ning (a private social network within our distance learning school) we teach digital citizenship skills, such as media sharing, blogging, discuss issues such as cyber bullying, collaborate in online book clubs and participate in events such as our Innovator’s Challenge.  We trust and value our relationship within this private and safe community.

So what I hope to share from this conversation is how we can have virtual relationships using social media.  I was in a library advocacy workshop recently,  and I heard the presenter share that social media is not a place for advocacy.  I would strongly disagree!  Enjoying ten years as a virtual teacher librarian… this is MY world and most of my students world who live in different parts of British Columbia, Alberta and beyond would agree.

My goal is to reach out in love and respect on a global level.  As Gust MEES @Knolinfos my Twitter friend shared  we thought about creating a multilingual social media dictionary for other educators to share their thoughts on the positive and community forming bases for social media.  We can do that in 30 words or in 3 characters.  The choice of words we use can either build up or bring down.  It would be cognizant of different languages, ethnic and religious backgrounds.  Thankfully on Twitter I have seen mostly positive encouragement!  I have also seen poetry in reduction.  As a wordsmith in hiding I LOVE it! Thankful for all things PLN!

We welcome your thoughts!  Thanks @KnolInfos for starting a blog to collaborate on such thoughts!

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