Students Shaping Their Digital World — Lake Shore’s Digital Citizenship Summit
Digital citizenship is a new idea that isn’t really all that new. Human beings have been educating our children about how to be a good citizen ever since we started living in groups. The elders in the group could share their wisdom, and help the younger generation avoid the pitfalls of life.
But how do you teach digital citizenship when technology today is new for ALL of us?! If you’re like the groundbreaking team at Lake Shore Central School District in New York State, you flip the script entirely, and have your students teach the teachers about digital citizenship in the 21st century.
This past Spring, students from across Lake Shore Central School District, from third graders to the senior class leadership team, took a day to transform Lake Shore Middle School into a mass gathering of digital citizenship games, lessons, performances, and presentations to educate their teachers and parents.
Luckily, since winning the 2018 Powtoon My School sweepstakes, every single student in the district had access to a Powtoon account. Along with a suite of other cutting-edge Edtech upstarts, Lake Shore’s students created a day of learning that not only educated their community, but touted their own skills and capabilities.
I sat down with Deann Poleon and Michael Drezek, Lake Shore Central School District’s lead tech integrators, to get a taste of what went into creating this special day. Beyond the awards and recognition, I wanted to understand what their students accomplished, and what it means for the future of our digital world.
Ready… Let’s GO!
A Powerful Day of Learning
Before we get the behind the scenes experience, let’s take a moment to take in the final product. Here’s the recap video the Digital Citizenship Institute created.
A powerful day of learning indeed! Because I’ve worked closely with the Lake Shore team since the fall, I know there was an entire year’s worth of preparation that went into their digital citizenship summit.
Integrating Technology & Building a Digital Future
The two hidden heroes behind Lake Shore’s technology landscape are Deann Poleon and Michael Drezek, lead technology integrators for their entire district.
They’re responsible for connecting teachers in their district with the latest technological tools. They work to ensure that the district’s computer infrastructure is running well, and that all classrooms can access the tools they provide.
I asked Deann and Michael about how teachers worked Powtoon into their curricula in the year leading up to the digital citizenship summit.
Michael said, “Deann used it in a pretty wide variety of ways in different classes for different projects, which was cool. Some teachers took to it right away. The digital citizenship summit was great because it was a showcase for those classes that used Powtoon. Because there were parents and a lot of teachers there, the kids were teaching the teachers.”
Deann mentioned that Powtoon fit perfectly in their suite of technologies, because it gives a powerful option for creating animated and live-action videos or presentations. She said, “One of our priorities is to always try to give our kids a choice. Use the tool you want to use. What are you into? If you want to create video and animation, go for Powtoon. If you want to keep things simple, or that isn’t your thing – then use this tool. It was great to have that element of choice.”
Taking up what they wanted to accomplish, Michael added, “We really wanted to highlight the importance of digital citizenship and how it can be embedded into all subject areas. Everyone has an effective role to play; from students to educators, administrators to parents, through to our wider community members too. We know that technology plays a big part in our daily life, and we really wanted to drive home that it can be used for good in many different ways.”
In all, the different classes tackled a variety of topics, and started to prepare for the big day, which was scheduled for March 15, 2019. Here’s a break down of the major components of the day.
The Big Day: Lake Shore’s Digital Citizenship Summit
You could hear this from me, but I much prefer how Deann described the day:
It a truly awesome day! We held the summit at our Middle School. Our leadership students from the senior class produced a massive carnival, transforming the gym into a space for play and learning.
Each station included games that all taught different lessons. Asking questions like, “Digital citizenship: What is it? What is it about? What do you do in a dangerous situation?”
Kids, parents, and teachers alike went through that whole area. It wasn’t a whole lot of “don’t do this, don’t do that.” The activities focussed on things like, “this is what you can do to be a better digital citizen.” It was overwhelmingly positive, not to mention a lot of fun.
Class Projects — Digital Citizenship From The Next Digital Generation
Several classes participated in group projects that focussed on one aspect or another of digital citizenship. These projects were presented throughout the building, with kids sharing research they completed, media they created, and even raised money for their community.
Fourth Grade Powtoon PSAs
The Lake Shore fourth graders created unique Powtoon videos as PSAs to help share important ideas about digital citizenship. Below are some images from their videos. You can watch them yourself over on the Lake Shore Forth Grade Flipgrid page.
Fourth & Fifth Grade Tech Helpers
Their fifth grade got ready for the big day by preparing to be the on-site tech helpers. They worked during the day to smooth out all technical needs for each of the stations at the summit.
“I Will” Statements from the Fifth Grade… PLUS Actual Funds Raised!
Another group of fifth graders worked with GoBubble to create “I Will” statements around important causes. They crafted these “I Will” statements as a way to commit to making the world (digital & physical) a better place.
Deann mentioned to me that, not only had they turned these statements into actionable plans, but they even had some unplanned successes.
She said, “the kids were talking about recycling, helping out at local shelters, changing out disposable for reusable water bottles, and things like that. But they actually raised money that day — totally unexpectedly. We were like, ‘what the heck!’ So, money actually went back out into our community for those causes that day.”
Fifth Grade Podcasts
Mrs. Wunder’s fifth graders created original podcasts using Soundtrap. They did amazing research into popular games, apps, and famous gamers. They educated teachers and parents about what’s popular, what games people play, and who are the influencers out there leading the pack. Deann liked that it wasn’t all rainbows and YouTubers, though.
She noted, “I liked that it wasn’t sugar-coated. They were honest about what you should or shouldn’t do online, and what the real consequences can be. Their research was really well done, so Mrs. Wunder was very excited about that. The students were so proud of themselves.”
Seventh Grade Girls Uncovered the Neuroscience of Connected Devices
A group of Seventh Graders did research into the effect of electronic devices on our brain development. Recognizing that being a digital citizen means interacting with the digital world, they presented the current research on the impact our always-connected lifestyle can have on developing and adult brains.
The Junior Water Walkers
Another group of students called the Junior Water Walkers shared how to be healthy and in tune with the local environment with DIY step counter kits to encourage tech-savvy exercise and a reason to get outside!
Showcasing Digital Citizenship Success
It’s easy to get goose bumps from seeing these students take the wheel and share their passion, research, skills, and activism with their community. That is, after all, the real mark of success. But the team at Lake Shore continued to rake in the kudos in Philadelphia at the 2019 ISTE conference and with EdChangeGlobal, reviewing the amazing day Lake Shore students created together.
Why Was This Day So Powerful?
Michael and Deann have a passion for learning and technology like no one else. So I assumed that all of the cool software, creative solutions, and Edtech awesomeness would be the biggest takeaway. But, of course, that’s not what drives educators. It’s all about the kids. Here is Deann’s take:
[Holding this summit] was just really, really, really cool. We had our students there on a day they didn’t need to be there (it was our superintendent’s day). We had our teachers thoroughly engaged. It was great energy. Our administrators kept coming to me that day — one of them three or four times — just to tell me again, “this is amazing.” It was nice to get that feedback. But the real victory, I think, was with the kids.
We just recently went back to all the classes we worked with, and we talked to the kids about the summit. Their reaction was overwhelming. They had an amazing time, and they thought it was really cool to teach their teachers. They were so proud of the work they did to make the day a success.
And we were really proud of them, because they were really present at the summit. They weren’t nervous, They were just so excited to be there and to help make it a success.
It was nice for all our teachers to see what our kids are really capable of. I think that was our biggest accomplishment that day. Every teacher knows, sometimes you just get beaten down. Resources are tight, and teaching can take everything you have. It was just a dream to see our kids (especially our younger kids) in action, and how capable they really are.
How Do YOUR Students Handle Digital Citizenship?
Wow. All I can say is I am truly inspired by Deann, Michael, and all the students across the Lake Shore Central School District. Makes me want to hold my own digital citizenship summit.
So, how does your classroom handle the subject of digital citizenship? Have any big plans in the 2019-2020 school year? Wanna make some?
Be sure to let me know in the comments below! And check out Powtoon’s educational plans, with features and pricing created especially for educators and students.
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