Digital Citizenships: Lessons and Reflection

The digital citizenship curriculum is not only extremely important, but also incredibly relevant to the learning environment.  It is important because, with the rapid increase of social media and digital tools, we are constantly “connected” both in the classroom and at home.  The digital world allows for deeper opportunities for learning, communicating, collaborating, and creating, but the stakes are high if used inappropriately. It is vital that we address respectful, responsible, and safe online behavior so that we can fully take advantage of the increase in available technology.  The digital citizenship curriculum is also very relevant because teaching students about empathy, respect, safety/protection,  ethics and morals are important lessons for any environment. Ultimately, teaching about digital citizenship strengthens our online world, but also greatly benefits our physical spaces.

This year I’ve had the opportunity to use curriculum from Common Sense Media to teach my ninth grade students about digital citizenship and to ultimately become a digitally certified instructor.  Using this curriculum, and their affiliated sites like Digital Bytes and Graphite, I taught a variety of lessons and worked with staff to implement this instruction into the school.

To start the year, my entire school dedicated a day to digital citizenship instruction, where we taught the Scope & Sequence lessons to all students.  These lessons covered a variety of topics (shown in the image below).  What I particularly appreciated was that each lesson offered modifications for teachers depending on technology availability and included lesson extensions or additional resources to make it easy to continue the learning.  The lessons are also “scripted” enough so anyone can use them, but they are also open enough to be easy to personalize.

Digital Citizenship Topics 


To continue this instruction, I recently introduced students to Common Sense Media’s Digital Bytes site.  This is a self-guided site which allows students to interact with others on the various topics and to explore essential questions relating to digital citizenship.  As the questions were very relevant to students’ lives, they were very engaged with this site and it was not at all difficult to keep them on task!  Included below is an assignment I had students complete as they navigated Digital Bytes, so I could record the responses which they also posted to the site.

Digital Bytes Assignment – Sample of Student Work

After exploring Digital Bytes, students worked to create symbols that represent aspects of digital citizenship (Thanks Ann Hayes Bell for the idea!!). This lesson was great for my English classroom as it built off of our prior learning about symbolism in literature.  Our plan is to use the symbols to create a bulletin or poster to display across the school at the start of next year.

Digital Citizenship Symbols Assignment

Moving forward, I definitely plan on continuing to embed digital citizenship instruction into my classroom.  As stated previously, the discussion topics and issues are so relevant to students’ lives and can easily apply to the core subject curriculum.   I’m eager to see how students use their learning about digital citizenship to shape their digital lives!


Curious what Digital Bytes is all about? (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from

Hayes Bell, A. (n.d.). Communicate. Collaborate. Create. Retrieved March 15, 2016, from

InCtrl. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from

K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum | Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from

Analyzing Argument in Advertisements: A Lesson Using the ASSURE Method

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The ASSURE Model, detailed in the infographic below, is an excellent tool to help teachers develop an appropriate and effective learning environment for their students.


Using this model, I developed a lesson plan on analyzing argument in advertisements.  What was great about this project was that it not only fulfilled a school assignment for my SPU Digital Ed. Leadership master’s program, but I was actually teaching it to my students at the same time.  This made it very relevant to my teaching and I was able to fine tune the lesson through trial and error.  Additionally,  the lesson combines Common Core State Standards in English/Language Arts with ISTE Standards 1 and 2.  While this lesson is intended to be taught in a ninth grade English classroom, it could easily be adapted for a different age group or subject area.

The complete Advertisement Analysis Project Lesson can be found by following the link or it is embedded below.


I found the ASSURE model very useful for creating specific, thoughtful, and thorough lesson plans.  I really liked that it asks you to consider modifications and adjustments so you feel prepared in case anything goes contrary to the plan.  It is especially important to consider this when dealing with technology as it seems like, in navigating digital learning, there is a lot that may not go as planned.  Overall, I appreciated the process but I do think that this model might be a bit too extensive for a day-to-day lesson.  It is very appropriate when planning units, particularly those that heavily rely on digital tools.  With that said, the greatest pleasure I had in teaching this lesson was in the level of student engagement and therefore the quality of the finished projects.  I believe this was in large part due to having to think through each lesson component and possible outcome really helped me address any issues quickly and efficiently.


ASSURE. (n.d.). Retrieved March 03, 2016, from

ISTE Standards for Students. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from

Media Literacy. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from

Back to Basics: Organizing and managing our online world

As my SPU Digital Education Leadership master’s program has delved deeper into exploring the ISTE student standards, I have felt inspired to both rethink how I deliver the ninth grade English curriculum to my students and how I work with other educators to effectively implement digital tools in the classroom.  This being said, I have noticed that a lot of what I’m learning about makes me feel torn in two directions.  On one hand, I am eager to share the “newest and best” tool or teaching philosophy I hear about with my staff, or to try it out in my classroom.  On the other hand, I’m constantly reminded of how tiresome it can be to “stay on top” of what’s happening in digital education.

In considering this imbalance, I have started to realize that the availability of digital tools often surpasses the support systems in place for students and educators to feel confident using them.  This being the case, I wanted to take a minute to slow and form a more practical method for approaching digital education.

To approach this issue, I have asked myself what are the most basic technology skills necessary for one to feel confident maneuvering in an online world?  My district is invested in Google Apps and we are almost fully 1:1 with Chromebooks so, in answering this question I realized that my staff and students would benefit from resources on using the basic functions of Google tools and Chromebooks.  This lead me to develop two resources, which I plan on sharing with my school and which I have included below.

This first chart shares some tips for organizing the Google Drive.  I choose to create this resource because, in working with students and staff alike, I realized that this was something that had previously not been addressed.  Also, many were hesitant to switch to using their Google Drive from desktop files and I wanted to share some easy to follow steps for making the switch.

google-drive-organization (3)


This second resource shares tips for working offline with Chromebooks.  This had been an big concern in our district when we started going 1:1 as many realized that access to internet can greatly limit the way we use educational technology.


Additionally, I recently attended the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) where I learned about a really cool tool called Graphite by Common Sense Media. In a session titled “Identifying Quality Apps, Websites, and Games for Learning”, Cindy Etherton, of Salem-Keizer Public Schools, explained the same dilemma I have outlined above: that many educators and students feel overwhelmed by the vast pool of digital tools available.  She then shared the benefits of Graphite, which include digital tool ratings and a resource that helps teachers select appropriate tools for specific tasks.

Moving forward, I hope to continue finding practical ways to help students and educators feel more confident using digital tools.  With a strong support system in place, I think we will see many more learning experiences being enhanced and redefined through technology.

If you want to learn more about more specific topics I have been learning about in my master’s program through SPU, check out my blog post titled ISTE: Critical Thinking and Research!

ISTE: Critical Thinking and Reserach

In my masters program I have recently had the opportunity to form inquiry questions based on ISTE Standards three and four, relating to critical thinking and research.  These questions have helped guide my learning and have lead me to several instructional models and digital tools that I plan on incorporating in my classroom.  Below, I have included the questions, along with my Coggle mind maps, to share what I have learned.

ISTE Standard 3 Question: How can I support students in developing their own learning through research while ensuring that they are staying focused to the task at hand. In other words, is there a framework or “roadmap” to keep students on the path to discovering answers to a question without them getting distracted by the volume and scale of available resources.

ISTE Standard 4 Question: How can I modernize my current English 9 curriculum to incorporate digital tools that foster critical thinking skills necessary in the 21st century? What tools are available and how can I smoothly integrate them into my current instruction?


Creating Innovative Digital Learners

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What’s Going On?

Now that second quarter of the Digital Education Leadership Program at Seattle Pacific University has taken off, we have jumped into unlocking the ISTE student and teacher standards while analyzing and discussing various frameworks for integrating technology into the classroom. Specifically, we have looked at ISTE Standard 1, which focuses on creativity and innovation, and Standard 2, which lays out objectives for communicating and collaborating in a digital classroom.  While studying each standard, we have used the SAMR and TPACK models as pedagogical frameworks for educational technology immersion.

Through these explorations, I have developed two questions that have guided my research and learning, which were inspired by the two ISTE standards we’ve studied.

  1. How can an educator best offer a variety of technology based creative platforms (Piktochart, TouchCast, Google Slides/Draw, PowToons, etc.) in one assignment or project and still make sure that the end result meets the same standards and objectives?
  2. When assigning a collaborative project, how can I ensure that my students are indeed collaborating–equally participating in completing the task? What tools are available to ensure, enhance, and monitor student participation in collaborative projects?

The class readings, my research, and the resources shared by my classmates have provided a huge scope of information to address these questions.   Below, I elaborate on a few of the most notable points I have come across in my learning on how to create digitally enhanced instruction that is both innovative and meaningful.

The SAMR Model

The SAMR model for integrating technology into teaching (infographic below), developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, breaks down how educational technology is used into four categories: substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition.  This provides a scale for how technology is incorporated into a classroom, starting with substituting a digital tool to complete a traditional, non digital task, and ending with redefining learning through technology. This model does not suggest that the “enhancement” stage, including substitution and augmentation, is subpar.  In fact, sites like TurnItIn and Google Classroom along with digital tools, like free online graphing calculators, have greatly improved a student’s access to resources and a teacher’s ability to effectively manage the classroom.  However, the transformation stage, including modification and redefinition, calls for educators to incorporate digital tools that totally redefine learning, which is both incredibly exciting and a bit terrifying.  A few of these “transformational” tools that I have personally tried out are listed in the “redefining learning” section below.

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**A great resource for introducing educators to the SAMR model is available here through Common Sense Media.

Redefining Learning

In Teaching in a Digital Age, author A.W. Bates’ immediately makes the point that, “As more instructors have become involved in online learning, they have realized that much that has traditionally been done in class can be done equally well or better online” (n.d., p.1.7).  This directly relates to the SAMR model in that it draws attention to the less than obvious fact that technological tools are inherently redefining learning.  Bates’ explanation extends the SAMR model a bit however by elaborating on how digital tools have redefined both how a teacher informs instruction and how a student synthesizes their learning through using creative, collaborative, and innovative digital tools.

On the educators side, Bates explains two emerging frameworks for teaching, the flipped classroom and blended learning models.  In the flipped classroom, the educator records the lecture, which the students watch on their own time and then class is dedicated to discussing or further exploring the topics that arise.  Bended learning is a bit less clearly defined but involves a hybrid of digitized and traditional learning methods.  For example, in a blended classroom a teacher may use online sites to organize and share resources or manage the flow of student work, but the instruction may be provided in a more traditional format. While both of these frameworks appear to be in the “enhancement stage” according to the SAMR model, it is clear that, education at a core, is inherently changing.  It won’t be long, as Bates suggests, before the digital classroom looks very different from the traditional learning environment most of us are familiar with (n.d., p.1.7).

Along with the pedagogical changes to learning and education, technology is altering the tasks, tools, and experiences available to students in the classroom.  This is where ISTE Standards one and two come into play, as there are now so many tools that completely change how a student creates, innovates, and communicates both individually and collaboratively.  Below, I have included an infographic which categorizes some of the tools I have come across that transform and redefine student learning and relate to these two standards.  I choose tools that I have personally used and that are easily accessible to students in my district (we have 1:1 Chromebooks) but, as these tools are constantly being created or adapted, this is just a starting point.

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Future Explorations

  • When applying the SAMR model to technology instruction, is it best for an educator to begin with the first step, substitution, and work up to redefinition, or is it better to aim directly for redefinition from the start?
  • How can we continue to balance “tried and true” traditional teaching methods with new methods that seem to completely redefine learning with technology?


Bates, A. W. (n.d.). Fundamental change in education. In Teaching in a digital age (1). Retrieved from

Puentedura, Ruben (2014). SAMR, Learning, and Assessment. Retrieved from

Digital Education Leadership Program – First Quarter Reflection

“In the cave we fear to enter lies the treasures we seek.” – Joseph Cambell

When I stared teaching four years ago, fresh out of college and twenty-two years old, I felt mostly prepared for what lay ahead.  I definitely knew that I had a lot to learn, but I also felt confident in my understanding of the “important stuff” like writing student-friendly targets or making intentional seating charts.  While I now have to laugh at past me, I also know that, had I been aware of just how much more I had to learn, and how rapidly the world of education changes, I don’t know how I would have been motivated to keep up with the profession. I certainly do not mean to say that the world of education is discouraging, and in fact there are so many daily victories and delights that I could not image a better way to spend my career.  However, I have learned that it takes a high level of open-mindedness and ability for reflection that remains a constant challenge.

To more specifically portray this constant change, consider that first year in the profession.  For me, I was teaching tenth grade English in a classroom with no student computers, only my teacher computer and an overhead projector, which weren’t connected.  There was a lab in a portable nearby but the computers were so out-of-date that we spent half the period waiting for them to load or connect to the printer.  Now, just a few years later and in the same district, nearly all students are provided a Chromebook for school and home use, our schools have robotics clubs and 3D printers, and our teachers use online systems like Google Apps for Education, Hapara, and Moodle sites.

While this example relates specifically to technology, which is certainly not the only changing field of education, this is the area that has, in my career, changed the most quickly and dramatically.  Additionally, I believe that my craft as a teacher and the learning opportunities for students have been greatly improved as I have implemented digital tools in the classroom and the accessibility of these tools has grown.

Since that first year, after realizing that I needed to “get with it” or I could quickly fall behind, I have chosen to embrace forward thinking when it comes to new ideas in education, particularly relating to technology use.  Due to this realization, I have become involved in technology leadership and implementation in my district.  I now have the opportunities to work with other teachers one-on-one, in classrooms, and through professional development trainings to.  Even greater, I have taken on the opportunities to learn from other educators, through workshops, conferences, and collaboration.

These experiences have been so rewarding, which is why I am where I am now, in a digital education leadership master’s program learning along many impassioned and inspiring educators.  Now, just a quarter into the program, I still realize that the shifts in education and technology are often overwhelming.  However, through my teaching experience and my learning in the master’s program, I am just as eager as ever to take on these changes in an attempt to help foster excellence in teaching in myself and others.  So, my advice for other educators who are pursuing a career in digital education leadership, or education in general, is that, with a high level of  open-mindedness and a passion for learning, that fear of the “unknown” is eclipsed by the vast wealth of knowledge you can stumble upon once you start exploring.


Digital Readiness Project: A Glance into a Public Mid-High School

Overview – 

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with the three principals of my school and the district technology coordinator in regards to our digital readiness.  Through my role as a technology leader, I was curious to see how my schools’ understandings aligned with that of the district as a whole.

Straightaway, I must admit that I approached these interviews somewhat naively believing that I already knew the answers and that our district was “ahead of the game” in regards to digital readiness.  Instead, I was quickly reminded that, when it comes to digital citizenship and educational technology integration, we are all really just trying to keep up with the game.  This realization, along with the interview responses, lead me to see that, while digital readiness is a complicated topic in a public school, there is a shared optimism among administrators about approaching and embracing this content.

What follows are the questions I asked each administrator, along with an infographic that covers some of the most pertinent findings.  I have organized this information into two sections, where we are “here and now” and what we should address “looking forward”.  Within those categories I have chosen to focus on where we are at with our current instruction, I have included some survey results based on my findings, I address digital equity, and I lay a framework for what my district can do to keep working towards digital readiness and citizenship.

Digital Readiness Project

Interview Questions

Guiding Questions:

  • How does our school district define digital citizenship?
  • What is our school/district currently doing to address issues relating to digital citizenship as we increase our technology use?
  • What issues relating to digital citizenship and technology use does our district need to address in the next two to four years?

Respect Yourself/Respect Others

Digital Etiquette –

  • Do students know how to use technology effectively and responsibly?
  • Are students aware of how their use of technology affects others?
  • How do we teach our students to not engage in cyberbullying, inflammatory language, etc.?

Digital Law –

  • How do we teach our students to use and share digital content legally (citing sources, understanding copyright laws, using file sharing sites, etc.)?
  • Do we have behavioral management systems in place to hold students accountable for how they use digital technologies?

Digital Access –

  • Do all students in our district have equal access and opportunities when it comes to technology use?
  • What accommodations are there for those students who do not have access to technology at home?

Educate Yourself/Educate Others

Digital Communication –

  • Do students understand what is appropriate to share through email, texting, social media, and other digital communications?
  • What do we do to teach students how to use email, texting, social media, and other digital communications effectively?
  • What policies to we have to teach about and prevent inappropriate digital communication such as writing in email shorthand, texting during class, and using technology tools to cheat?

Digital Literacy –

  • How are teachers trained in the best practices for using technology in the classroom?
  • How do we teach students to use digital basics such as browsers, search engines, email, etc.?
  • Do students know how to determine legitimacy of web sources?
  • How are we teaching technological skills that are required in various workforces?

Protect Yourself/Protect Others

Digital Rights & Responsibility –

  • How are we teaching ethical technology use both inside and outside of school?
  • What tools do we provide students for reporting cyber bullying, threats, and other inappropriate technology use?
  • How do we ensure our staff is modeling ethical technology use?

Digital Health & Welfare –

  • Are students aware of both the physical and emotional dangers of internet use?
  • Can we use technology to improve overall health and wellness?

Digital Safety & Security –

  • How do we teach our students to use digital precautions such as difficult passwords, virus protection, backing up data, identity theft, etc.?
  • How do we gain the support of parents and the larger community to uphold responsible technology use?

Reflection – 

As stated above, I went into this project with a few preconceived ideas about the digital readiness of my school and district that were not totally accurate.  Specifically, my greatest learning point was in realizing that, while my administrators had already previously given some serious thought to many of my interview questions, there is still a lot of room for us to grow.

I was pleasantly surprised at how receptive they were to my questions and I was exceptionally pleased with their response to my finished report.  They were all eager to share the information, outlined in the infographic, with other educators and district employees and this really put in motion the conversation around “what next”, helping to also establish my role as a technology leader.  Within this conversation, we decided that our most vital next step is to gather more clear information on students and teachers in regards to digital readiness.  Two major questions that came up center around digital access (how many students have internet access at home) and digital literacy (are students and staff effectively taught how to use digital learning tools?).  These questions, along with those listed in the “future questions to address” on the infographic, provide our next steps in addressing the ongoing topic of digital readiness and will provide me opportunities for further insights in future blog posts.

References –

Common Sense Media. (2015). Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence: 8th & 9th Grade Lessons.  Retrieved December 6, 2015, from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). ISTE standards: teachers. Retrieved December 6, 2015, from

Ribble, Mark. Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Appropriately. (2014). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from

Washington State Report Card (2014-2015). OSPI: Washington State Report Card.  Retrieved December 8, 2015, from


Digital Learning Mission Statement

Digital Citizenship Mission Statement


A digital citizen is anyone who interacts with technology to engage in society, making them a “citizen” of the online world.  With the number of digital citizens rising dramatically in the recent past, as is evident from the PEW Research Center’s survey results below, it has become imperative that educators are teaching students, along with themselves, about digital citizenship (2015, p.2). Here we run into a more complex idea though, as what it means to act with citizenship online is tougher to understand and changes as quickly as the newest app is released. We can turn to Mike Ribble’s explanation of digital citizenship, as “the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior in regards to technology use” to begin understanding what exactly this looks like (2015).  However, this still raises questions about what “appropriate” and “responsible” behavior looks like.  Ribble does an excellent job of breaking this down in his books and resources and I too attempt to offer some insights into what this looks like through my mission statement and explanation below.

Tackling the complexities of digital citizenship and its implications for education is a daunting task that cannot be solved with a simple answer.  In recognizing this, my mission statement and guiding principles aim to encompass the general ideas relating to digital citizenship and offer a few suggestions for how to live a moral and ethical online life, particularly relating to education. With this in mind, the intended audience for my mission statement is the whole educational community, including teachers, administrators, students, parents, and all others who feel a personal connection to the learning environment.  The overarching purpose of my mission statement is to inspire these people to embrace digital education, using digital tools to enhance learning, and digital citizenship as I have described it above, knowing how to use these tools ethically and responsibly.  I emphasize the necessity for a passion for learning as I don’t believe it is possible to want to grow without an innate desire.  Most notably however, I hope that this mission statement encourages and challenges individuals to be mindful of their own digital lives and how they impact the greater community.

Guiding Principles:

Digitally aware students and educators will be able to…

Ethical & Healthy Identity

  • Recognize how their digital lives impact those of others, both in their immediate community and globally and in turn understand the physical and emotional dangers of digital life (i.e. cyberbullying, identity theft, etc.).
  • Demonstrate digital literacy through using digital resources critically by assessing for relevancy, credibility, accuracy, and purpose.
  • Practice mindfulness, or attention on the present, when using technology and to reflect on their digital lives rather than get caught up in them.

Ever-Changing Culture

  • Understand that digital life is extremely complex and constantly changing and in knowing this is also continually seeking new perspectives, both locally and globally.
  • Adapt to new digital tools as they become available.

Digital Literacy & Informed Perspectives

  • Employ the best practices for implementing and using technology in the classroom.
  • Effectively use educational technologies implemented by the district, including email, teacher websites, student assignment-management sites, digital gradebooks, online assessment programs, etc.
  • Continually seek to further their understanding on new perspectives relating to digital tools, resources, and identity.  Then to critically assess that new information for legitimacy and appropriateness.
  • Use a critical and informed perspective to implement best practices in both educational technology and in their personal digital lives.

Passion for Learning & Growth

  • Uphold an intrinsic love for learning that leads to natural inquisitiveness and continued growth.
  • Inspire others to seek ethical and responsible digital lives.


Common Sense Media.

Perrin, Andrew & Duggan, Maeve, “American’s Internet Access: from 2000-2015,” PEW Research Center (2015).

Ribble, Mike & Northern Miller, Teresa, “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45

Mission, signatures, and vision. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2014, from Seattle Pacific University website:

Prensky, Marc, “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom,” in From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin, 2013), 201-15