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Digital Citizenship Collaborators: Twentieth Street and Rosemont Elementary Schools
By Thais Leung, Instructional Technology Facilitator at Twentieth Street Elementary School
Twentieth Street Elementary kicked off its year as a Practitioner School 4.0 with our first ever school-to-school Skype collaboration. In preparation for Digital Citizenship celebrations and with the support of their respective Instructional Technology Facilitators (Thais Leung and Manuel Vazquez), Ms. Navas’s (Twentieth Street Elementary School) 4th grade class connected with Ms. Anderson’s (Rosemont Elementary School) 4th grade class to discuss and collaborate on the Digital Citizenship lesson “Keeping Games Fun and Friendly” from the new Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Common Sense Education. Students from both schools had the opportunity to share their differing perspectives regarding prominent issues within the gaming community.
To get started in this activity, both classes separately taught the Digital Citizenship lesson from the Common Sense Education curriculum. The teachers connected through email and phone calls to share and co-plan their virtual connection. Each teacher separately prepared their class on Digital Citizenship values and virtual meeting etiquette prior to meeting online. During the actual video conference, students led the activity with their questions and presentations while teachers facilitated by asking probing questions when necessary to guide their discussion forward. At the end of the activity, both teachers reflected on the lesson with their respective students.
The activity was a great success, and students from both classes were able to exercise their student voice when talking to their peers online. They asked clarifying questions like “what happens when someone breaks the rules after the warning?”, extended on their answers to include different measures to their game like adding a “private server” to keep the social interactions fun and friendly, and gave constructive feedback to each other with actionable tips and thoughts such as giving ideas about censoring curse words and numbers from the chat system. At the end of their virtual meeting, students were hungry for more opportunities to connect with their peers in other schools. Nevertheless, this activity like all other lessons also had some challenges revolving around scheduling, planning, and execution.
The main challenge faced during the virtual connect was that both classes were at different stages in their game creation process, which steered the student discussion’s focus to different directions. Nevertheless, this challenge also provided a great learning experience and opportunity for both students and educators. Both Ms. Navas and Ms. Anderson co-planned and discussed possible questions and facilitation techniques to gear the student’s conversations if needed prior to their virtual connection. They also discussed different ways that this virtual meeting could be beneficial to both classes; e.g., Class A can share their posters while Class B asked questions to guide their game creation, Class B can share their thoughts and current work while Class A can give feedback. By engaging in the discussion process, students also learned to shift their perspectives to address the other party’s needs.
Students from both schools were able to articulate behaviors and expectations that they would like to see in their game creations. The focus on relationship and communication was clear in their virtual discussion. Students talked about a range of subjects: how to safeguard accounts against hacking through secure servers, how to handle players who are griefing others, why there is a need to share and model the behaviors and expectations, and more. Both classes are very excited about further collaboration in projects with each other, and this activity has been a great experience to educators as well. Current follow-up activities are in the process of being scheduled and co-planned. If you would like to learn more about the different things happening in both of these schools, please follow their Twitter feed: @20stdolphins (Twentieth Street Elementary) and @RosemontElemen1 (Rosemont Elementary) to see where their next collaborations will take them.