May 17, 2020

Creating a Culture of THINKers

Preparing students for the world they live in now can be a challenge; especially when many educators did not grow up with access to computers, cellphones, or social media. At my school, I am considered one of the younger staff members (I am 36). I never had any lessons in school on responsible technology use or how to discern factual information from fake news. I also wasn’t handed a laptop in 2nd grade.

Facebook became a thing when I was halfway through college, I got my first cellphone when I was nineteen, and I did not have my own computer until I graduated from college. Oh, how times have changed!

My second graders now have Chromebooks at school and some even have their own cellphones. A wealth of information is literally at their fingertips. As an educator in the 21st Century, regardless of my own background with technology, it is one of my jobs to help my students navigate the world they are living in-to create a culture of THINKers.

Responsible Use

Many schools have some form of a technology agreement or responsible use form that students complete at the beginning of the school year. Each year we go over the Dos and Don’ts of computer and internet use and safety. Students and parent sign the agreement, I post it in the classroom, and refer back to it when issues arise.

CISH’s Reception-Grade 2 Tech Agreement

I also use the THINK acronym throughout the year to help students make good choices before speaking, acting, or posting. One girl in my class even made a mini-poster for each student to have on their desk as a reminder.

Think Before You Speak Printable Posters | School signs, Teaching ...
Image by Teach Junkie.

Is it enough?

I ask this question, but I already know the answer. I am not doing enough to prepare my students for the digital world they currently live in. Sharing a tech agreement and teaching students to THINK is NOT enough. Students need to be taught not told what to do. The questions we should all be asking is:

How do we ensure that every child has access to the skills and experiences needed to become a full participant in the social, cultural, economic, and political future of our society?

How do we ensure that every child has the ability to articulate his or her understanding of how media shapes perceptions of the world?

How do we ensure that every child has been socialized into the emerging ethical standards that should shape their practices as media makers and as participants in online communities?
Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture

After asking these questions, a plan needs to be put in place. How will I ensure that my students are prepared to make ethical decisions?

My Experiences

As an adult it is hard to discern factual information from fake news anymore. I often find myself reading headlines from news stories that appear on my Facebook page and taking that information as truth. Sometimes it is because the headlines align with my beliefs. Therefore, I read the headline and do not look further into the story or where the information came from. This is a bad habit.

The need for quick answers and the 24-hour news cycle has created a culture of people who aren’t THINKing before they share, retweet, or take in the information as the truth. It is so easy for fake news stories to be spread. This is dangerous because people believe this misinformation without fact-checking it. This reporting referred to as circular reporting happens like this. News site A prints a fake story, News site B reprints it, and News site A then sites B as the source. Before you know it, multiplications report on the same fake news story.

How to Slow Down The Spread of a Lie

  1. Avoiding sensational media
  2. Searching for criticisms or suspicious information
  3. Tracing the original source of a report

Taking Action

To support my students in responsibly consuming and sharing information, I am learning about some of the best practices through the resources COETAIL has provided throughout this course as well as using my PLN through COETAIL to learn about what other educators are doing in their schools.

Building a Digital Literacy program that can be used in the elementary school at my current school is a goal of mine. There is not much being done now. The teaching of digital literacy skills is dependent on what individual teachers decide to do. Taking the Responsible Use Tech Agreements from my school and building off of that will be a start. Finding resources that educate parents on digital literacy such as Authenticating Information (Media Smarts) or using Google’s Be Internet Awesome: Digital Safety Resources is a starting point.

I’d love to hear how some of your schools are implementing Digital Literacy and Citizenship into the curriculum. Is there a vertically aligned document or curriculum already out there? I’d like to see what skills are needed and when it is most appropriate to teach those skills.

Author: Andrea Goodrich

I am an international educator working in Hanoi, Vietnam. I have been working overseas for the past 13 years. I started my career in a bilingual school in Guayama, Puerto Rico as a fifth and sixth-grade reading teacher. Then I moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and taught fourth grade for two years. While living in Ecuador, I met my husband and we moved to Seoul, South Korea together. In Seoul, I taught fifth grade for two years and then moved into a literacy specialist role. We are now teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam with our two Korean rescue dogs.

2 thoughts on “May 17, 2020”

  1. Hi, Andrea,

    Thank you for your thoughts about digital citizenship. My role at school is a Tech Integrator and Digital Citizenship is one of the most important units that I teach my students. Like you’ve mentioned, your 2nd-grade students are already using laptops, the same is in our school. Right after we agree about the rules of appropriate usage of our laptops, I begin my Dig. Cit. unit. My favorite tool is educational videos from Brainpop ( This website requires a subscription, but at the moment because of a pandemic situation, their material can be accessed for free. This might be a great opportunity to test it out 🙂 I begin showing the videos to my students from grade 1. This is a great material for starting discussions with students about Internet safety and other relevant topics. “Be Internet Awesome” has a full curriculum with all of the necessary benchmarks as well as lesson plans. It is an amazing resource and it is up to date. Really helpful.
    I personally am using to follow up on what Dig. Cit. content should be taught to what age. However, I am teaching all of our elementary students, so sometimes, I go ahead with them, and depending on what I’ve taught last year I pick something new, more relevant, more attractive, more interesting. Trying to make it meaningful to my students. Every year I change something because new resources and trends are showing up. Therefore, my curriculum maps are being updated this year. Sorry, can’t share them now 😉 Later 🙂 has some integrated “unplugged” lesson plans for teaching Dig Cit as well.
    During the COVID-19 I had some more options on catching up with building some Dig. Cit. skills. Seesaw was a really big hepler. Many of my activities were about Dig Cit.
    Do you have an EdTech person who is responsible for teaching Digital Citizenship skills to students at your school?

    1. Hi Julija!

      Thank you so much for all of this useful information! This is a huge help and I’ll be able to use some of these ideas for my course project. We don’t have an EdTech person at my school, so really it is left to the teachers to do what they want. I’d love to do more with my students, but I just haven’t had the time to develop anything. I’d love to see any curriculum maps you have once you are done. Thanks so much for being willing to share!


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