Here we are, at the finish line of a three-month long journey in this course. I am so pleased to be presenting my Major Project to you all!
I have created a PDF document that explores concepts of Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy in a Pre-Kindergarten context. This resource explicitly connects to the Pre-K curriculum (4 holistic domains of learning and Essential Learning Experiences, or ELEs) in each lesson, as well as providing extension activities and suggestions of ways to incorporate this learning into play. You can view or download the entire PDF document below.
It’s that time of the semester when all of the loose ends are being tied up and, boy, is it exciting! I am proud to present my first ever Summary of Learning video, which was created using a new-to-me tool, Canva. (Shout out to everyone who recommended or referenced this website – I am still just a beginner who is delving into the different content that can be created there, and I am thoroughly impressed! I know I will be using this tool a lot more in the future!)
I chose to divide my learning in EC&I 832 into three categories (which I am just now realizing is very similar to the way the course is set up – imagine that!):
informal learning from blogs, Twitter, Discord, and Zoom chats
formal learning from class content
personal/professional learning from my Major Project
As this course comes to a close, I am left feeling satisfied and proud of the journey I have been on – I have come a long way since January and learned A LOT! When I signed up for this course, I looked at the name of the class and went, “Okay, ‘Digital Citizenship’, I’ve heard of that. But ‘Media Literacy’? What exactly is that?” Now I can say I’ve developed a curriculum resource that introduces both of these concepts to the youngest of learners!
It has certainly been a ride; thanks for joining me for it!
I have really begun to see growth in my comfort level with allowing my Pre-K students to use devices lately. This class and my Major Project have both played a huge role in this change.
Before I began this class, my two class iPads sat at the corner of my desk essentially unused – I would plug them in every once in a while when they went dead from the sheer despair of not being picked up for weeks (or months) at a time. My motto was “I have so many amazing materials and toys in my classroom and I want students to use them, not play with a device.” Thinking about children choosing to play on an iPad during free play time made me cringe, and I knew some of my students already got lots of screen time and exposure to iPads and devices at home. My solution: I simply didn’t offer iPads as an option.
In the context of early childhood education, this topic is extremely relevant to the sharing teachers do via online platforms. Early years teachers use documentation as a way to share their students’ learning experiences with children, families, and other educators.
Teachers must consider: a) who the audience of an online post will be and, b) what the purpose of sharing a post is. This is related to several topics that Dylan discussed in his video this week, including informed consent, full disclosure, privacy, and security.
When the purpose of creating an online post is to share children’s learning directly with them or their families, teachers should use a digital platform that has a restricted child/family audience, such as Edsby or Seesaw. These digital platforms, which are directly used by school divisions, are more secure and require a log-in to access digital artifacts. Therefore, because there is more security, educators can share more openly. Images including children’s faces and information about the child (such as their name) can be shared.
When an online post will be shared on a social media platform such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, however, the audience is much more broad. The purpose of sharing a post on these open platforms is usually to share with other educators. In these instances, educators must take extra care to protect the privacy of their students. Common practices I see (and that I use myself) are referring to children by a letter rather than a first name (ex. “T” instead of Timothy), cropping out children’s faces in photos, covering or blurring children’s faces, or sharing an image of the items children are playing with rather than the children themselves.
Growing up, I was called ‘gullible’ a time or two. If someone I knew and trusted told me something, I believed it was true. Reflecting on this now, I like to think this stems from my personal value of honesty and my lack of understanding for deceit. I would never think to purposely lie to or fool someone, so I never expected others to do that to me.
Here’s an interesting little anecdote to showcase this:
Did anyone else take Anthropology 100 while at the University of Regina? Well, being a big fan of the TV show “Bones” as a teenager, I jumped at the chance to take an Anthropology class during my undergrad degree. I still vividly remember my experience with one of the readings from that course: Body Ritual Among the Nacirema.
If you’re not familiar with it, this short article by Horace Miner is about a mysterious tribe of people who enact bizarre rituals relating to their outward appearance. In ANTH 100, we were asked to read the article and write a response to it. I still remember reading the article and thinking: “Some of these things are a bit extreme, but I also see similarities to things we do in our culture.”
Since the February break, I have started to feel more confident that I am making progress on my Major Project. After my initial feelings of doubt and frustration (“Does Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy even have a place in Pre-K? Why aren’t there more resources out there for this age group?”), I have come up with a scope and sequence of what I would expect my Pre-K learners (3 and 4 year olds) to know about these concepts and am moving forward with creating lessons!
I tweeted out my first draft of the scope and sequence for my curriculum resources and got so many amazing comments and lots of great feedback! Other Twitter users helped me consider areas I might want to add to my scope and sequence (such as a conversation on screen time), asked clarifying questions that got me to reflect, or affirmed what I had created and encouraged me on my journey!
Type the word ‘literacy’ into a search engine and have a look through the image results. Better yet, before you complete that search, predict what kinds of images you will see and compare to the actual results. Were you right? Did anything surprise you?
I did the exercise above before I began writing my blog post this week, and it was a great jumping off point for ideas! My predictions were right in that there were many images of books, reading, words, pencils, etc. These are the things we typically associate with literacy – reading, writing, speaking; the command of the written and spoken word. Christine summarized this well in her section of the Topic D group video. However, I was surprised to see mentions of digital/media literacy, art, math, and science in the mix of search results as well.
In summary, I was heartened to see that our understanding of literacy in today’s world has evolved past a singular notion or type of literacy.
The more articles I read, videos I watch, and discussion I engage in as part of this class, the more apparent it becomes to me that schools and teachers must play a critical role in teaching digital citizenship to our students. Christine pointed out, in her portion of the presentation for Topic D this week, that many of these skills are closely linked to things we are already teaching in our classrooms. Therefore, I see digital citizenship as being a logical (and important) skill that our students should be exploring in the classroom.
That being said, in order for this to happen, there needs to be a system of supports in place – for students, for teachers, and for parents. This is exactly what the online article (shared by Durston) was talking about: a three-pronged approach that introduces concepts of Dig Cit to each of these three differing audiences.
As I delve more into my Major Learning Project, I find myself envisioning how I would go about teaching the concepts of Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy to Pre-K students (3 and 4 year olds). I keep coming back to the question of “Where should this actually start?”
In Pre-K (and early elementary in general), we can’t assume that students know concepts that adults might believe to be commonplace, second nature, or simple (such as closing the door when you go to the bathroom, sitting at the table when you eat, or how to use a paintbrush). We explicitly teach so many of these “basic” skills and concepts to our students. With this idea in mind, I found myself wondering: “Do my students even know what the internet is?”
Reflecting on my own digital identity has been a helpful exercise, one that I think it worth re-visiting periodically as a check-in. It is useful to continually reflect on what we are putting out there online and how we present ourselves in the digital world. I will discuss how my digital identity has evolved from past to present, and what I envision it may look like into the future.