On Tuesday, February 5th, LMC Directors, teachers and selected students were able to attend the inaugural KidsMatter 2019 Digital Leadership Summit. This event brought together fourth and fifth grade student leaders from two school districts in the Naperville, Illinois area. KidsMatter is a not-for-profit organization with the goal of creating leadership and volunteer opportunities for local children and give them a voice in their community.
This event was structured to give the students basic digital citizenship knowledge and provide them with a chance to create a plan to share their new knowledge with the students of their school. The lessons included creating strong passwords, being kind, real and fake information, and sharing carefully online. The basis for the student lessons were from the Google Be Internet Awesome program, Common Sense Media resources and the Illinois Internet Safety Act.
Michelle Shiles says, “I appreciated that there wasn’t a traditional digital citizenship “stranger danger, be afraid of the computer” lesson, but instead lessons that taught everyday skills and awareness.”
After the lessons were completed, students had the opportunity to work with the teachers from their buildings. Their focus was to develop ways to share out what they have learned with others in their schools.
Chrissy Ensign says, “It was incredible to watch our students in this leadership role. The students at Gombert Elementary are designing a slide deck that highlights the takeaways from the Digital Leadership Summit. They plan on integrating these into the morning announcements, printing the slides out as posters to hang around the school, and adding the information to the presentation that plays on the TV in the entrance way of our building!”
Graham Elementary students are planning two presentations to share out their learning, one for K-2 students utilizing Kahoot and one for 3-5 students utilizing PearDeck. They are applying and modeling digital skills in all aspects of their presentation.
“I really appreciate the way our district and its leadership values putting the kids in the driver’s seat of their learning. We are being proactive in empowering our students,” Nikki Fader comments. Students at Clow Elementary are excited to weave these ideas into monthly character trait lessons that are already in place. They have organized weekly announcements highlighting examples of how to be an informed digital citizen. This group is also looking forward to working with the PBIS team to add visuals and tips to our monthly pillars of good character presentation.
Peterson Elementary students are still working on their plan of what and how to share the information learned with students in the building. The way that the day was structured and with the goal in mind, students will have a voice in how to best reach the students in their respective buildings. Ann Schimmoler shares, “Our student leaders are eager to get started to share their knowledge to continue to build citizenship within the building. Whether it is face to face or digital, our students know that being a good citizen in important now and will also be in the future.”
Student leaders from Fry Elementary decided to share what they have learned with other students, even as young as Kindergarten, by collaborating with our school’s technology liaison and library media specialist. One thing they will do is plan with teachers to go into classrooms to read stories with a digital citizenship theme. Our student leaders will read books such as Goodnight iPad and If You Give a Mouse an iPhone and others; to use as a springboard to discuss the positive behaviors of being a digital citizen. Our student leaders are great role models for teaching their peers about these responsibilities and are very excited to plan more activities for our students.
McCarty students enjoyed the very engaging digital leadership experience. Since returning to school they have met with teachers to discuss their plans for sharing the information gathered at the leadership summit. The children feel confident that their peers will respond well to many of the activities shared during the summit. In addition, they are excited to develop opportunities for other Mustangs to make connections to our PBIS focus of being safe, kind and ready. Students are organizing and preparing to share their ideas with our building leadership team at a future meeting.
So often this type of information comes from the adults in a school. This experience has not only allowed our students to be empowered with the information they learned, but provided them with the opportunity to share it with a real audience.
Informational and digital literacy is such a timely and important topic. As we see many adults struggle with this skill and the digital world becomes more embedded in our lives, we feel that it is critical to involve elementary students in the conversation. It is vital to get them started on the path of learning important skills for our digital world.
The 2019 inaugural Digital Leadership Summit worked to empower the stakeholders to lead others in becoming better digital citizens. Hopefully, this event is one of the many conversations students will have about digital literacy.
Janeen Christakes, Steck Elementary LMC Director
Christina Ensign, Gombert Elementary LMC Director
Nicole Fader, Clow Elementary LMC Director
Michelle Loughran, Fry Elementary LMC Director
Rhea McVey, McCarty Elementary LMC Director
Ann Schimmoler, Peterson Elementary LMC Director
Michelle Shiles, Graham Elementary LMC Director