Fostering Good Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

Whether we’re looking up a recipe, getting directions, sharing a photo on social media or doing online banking — there’s no question: we’re living in a digital world.

And while there are many positive aspects to our connected world, there can be drawbacks and dangers, especially for young people who are still developing the critical thinking and interpersonal skills they need to stay safe and have positive interactions online.

Here are three tips shared by Ophea Canada in their blog post, Safe & Savvy Online, which I had the opportunity to contribute to and be interviewed for.

1. Connect to Curriculum:

The 2015 H&PE Curriculum includes expectations around online behaviour in the Personal Safety and Injury Prevention component of the Healthy Living strand, in the Human Development and Sexual Health strand and through the Living Skills—the personal, interpersonal and critical and creative thinking skills that are woven throughout the curriculum.

We want students to use Living Skills like critical thinking so they’re questioning what they’re seeing online and thinking about the integrity of what they’re doing, as well as the behaviours and actions of others.

2. Connect to the Community:

School administration, the OPP, Kids Help Phone or local police and public health for are great resources and sources of support. As teachers we can learn from professionals and subject experts about situations that have occurred, what resources are available, and what actions the school or community have taken in the past and can take in the future.

Collaborating with other teachers and various organizations (like the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario) can also be a good way to stay up-to-date on trends in technology. It changes very quickly, and in most cases students know before we do as educators. Be willing to learn and comfortable knowing that your students will likely know more than you.

3. Connect to the Everyday:

Internet safety needs to be part of the everyday safety we’re teaching students. As teachers we can model positive behaviour and learning through “Think Alouds” as we Google search various topics connected to the curriculum.

Learning online is simply an extension of what we’re already doing. Teachers should be integrating online safety as they would any safety topics, including road safety, safe handling of food, and bullying.

By teaching students to think critically about what they read, see and share and then to act with kindness and integrity, just as we want them to do in real life, we’ll help to ensure our students success and safety—both in the virtual and the face-to-face world.

To read the original blog post through Ophea, click here.

Physical & emotional safety is a precondition for learning in H&PE

Students learn best in an environment that is physically and emotionally
safe. In health and physical education, we often think of the need to keep our students physically safe. We have them checking to ensure their shoes are laced, hair is tied, and jewellery is removed. There is physically an inherent risk, and we want to do as much as we can to reduce it.

As educators we need to keep in mind that students learning is occurring in a public space where others can see them explore, learn, succeed, and make mistakes, and because of this, students emotionally safety should be top of mind as well. Student’s also discuss health topics that may be personal, and have implications for their personal health and well-being, so creating an inclusive and emotionally safe environment is critical.

Teachers need to provide a physically and emotionally safe environment for learning by emphasizing the importance of safety in physical activity, treating students with respect at all times, being sensitive to individual differences, following all board safety guidelines, and providing an inclusive learning environment that recognizes and respects the diversity of all students and accommodates individual strengths, needs, and interests.

A recent video from Ophea shares how some teachers in Ontario are bringing these concepts to life. Check it out!

Is your learning environment physically and emotionally safe? Ask yourself these reflection questions from the Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum, 2015.

Self-check Questions:

  • Is instruction designed to ensure a positive experience in a safe, inclusive, and
    supportive environment for all students?
  • Are all school board safety and equity guidelines being followed?
  • Are intentional steps being taken by educators and students to build skills for
    healthy relationships and ensure that bullying and harassment are prevented, or
    addressed if and when they occur, in the change room, the gym, outdoors, and in
    all learning spaces?
  • Are activities being modified or adapted as required to ensure that all students
    are included?
  • Is exercise presented as a positive and healthy experience rather than being used
    as punishment?
  • Does the program ensure maximum participation for all by avoiding activities
    in which students may be eliminated from play, and thereby deprived of
    opportunities to participate, practise, and improve?
  • Are teams designated in ways that are inclusive and fair, avoiding potentially
    insensitive methods of selection (e.g., having teams chosen by student captains)?
  • Are students’ diverse backgrounds taken into account when health topics are
    introduced, to ensure that discussions have personal relevance and that topics
    are addressed with sensitivity?