SOUTH WHiTLEY — Sept. 11 through Sept. 15, is not only homecoming week for Whitko Community Schools, it is also a celebration designed to launch an ongoing effort to teach students how to make safe, smart, and ethical decisions in the digital world. In other words, how to safely navigate through apps, websites and more using any device that connects them to the internet!
Whitko provides these opportunities through student training and their digital citizenship program. Additionally, Whitko’s elementary schools (Pierceton Elementary School and South Whitley ElementarySchool) have both achieved Common Sense Digital Certification status.
As a result of the ongoing efforts and training through the technology staff, as well as the teaching staff, students safely understand the impact of their digital footprint in a digital world.
The Indiana State Governor’s Office along with the Department of Education released a statement saying: “We recognize that our students are members of an increasingly connected digital society; and more than 750,000 of Indiana’s 1.1 million K-12 students use an internet-connected device in their classrooms while over 97% of Indiana schools have wireless internet deployed; and in our state’s digital school corporations, the majority of learning content is now digital and accessed through a variety of online learning platforms that transform the way our students explore, create, connect and learn…”
“I think we are off to a great start and I see more students and staff taking ownership of digital learning,” said Brittany Hamm, Technology Advocate for Whitko Community Schools.
A quick summary of some of the things Whitko has coordinated throughout the corporation for Digital Citizenship Week include:
- All buildings have sent home a newsletter with each student. The newsletters describe student involvement with Common Sense Media including a parent tip sheet and family media agreement to give them an idea of the resources found on Whitko’s website.
- At WHS the media specialist is developing a digital literacy curriculum to put in place for all freshman and sophomores. Additionally, they are creating bookmarks for each student taking a Social Studies class. The bookmark includes 5 ways to detect fake news. They will also be using the Common Sense Media Digital Bytes program with all students once a month during CATS Pride (a special time set aside for student meetings).
- WMS homerooms are finishing up beginning of the year trainings on devices and digital responsibilities through a document submitted in Google Classroom. They are also utilizing the Common Sense Media program paired with Nearpod for classes. WMS is taking another proactive step by creating monthly lessons for the staff to continue with students in homeroom.
- Pierceton Elementary has started working with all grade-levels regarding digital citizenship lessons through Common Sense as well as having discussions with classes about the responsibilities of being a digital citizen. PES’ Facebook page has been updated with posts about helping students think critically about media.
- South Whitley Elementary has started also working within all grade-levels and have begun their digital citizenship lessons through Common Sense. Staff and students are having discussions about the responsibilities of being a digital citizen. Students are also given a Tech Time word of the month to familiarize their vocabulary with many of the digital terms they hear.
- The school’s website whitko.org has also been updated to reflect Digital Citizenship Week by adding Common Sense Media widgets for parents and staff, which include a constant scroll of articles, and have updated the website to reflect that both elementary schools are certified through Common Sense Technology with digital citizenship badges.
- As a part of their commitment to 1 to 1 technology for all students, Whitko provides new digital learning devices for students in grades 5 and 9. This year the school provided Google Chromebooks, which will be used by the students for the next 4 years of their career. After 4 years of usage, they will receive a new device or graduate!
Travis Holland, a fifth grade student in Tasha Kinney’s classroom who just received his new Chromebook said, “The buttons are smooth, and its touchscreen, which is really helpful.” The chrome books have a carrying handle, a flippable camera for selfie or photography mode, and students are already using them for research and typing in class. At Whitko, students begin learning to type as early as 2nd grade, and are familiar with digital devices such as iPads beginning in Kindergarten.