Guest Post: On Digital Citizenship

Guest Post: On Digital Citizenship

This post appeared on The Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet on July 31, 2015.

Our 21st Century libraries are the perfect place to explore, and what better way to practice digital citizenship than by connecting with others around the world!

Common Sense Media’s vast website is chock-full of resources related to kids, tweens, teens, parents, and media. Their Digital Literacy and Citizenship educational resources and curriculum are well written, aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and they are kid, tween, and teen friendly.  Their Power of Words, Pause and Think Online are great videos to share with elementary school students, and Oversharing: Think Before You Post is perfect for tweens and teens.

One way to incorporate the Digital Citizenship curriculum and to honor the Digital Citizenship pledge is to connect with other schools via Google Hangout or Skype, and practice what they have learned in a fun way.   By celebrating various literature-inspired holidays with other schools within your district, the United States, or worldwide, elementary students can  hone their 21st Century communication skills.

In September, we celebrate courage, creativity, and collaboration with International Dot Day, We read books about art and taking risks, and share dot-inspired art with other schools.

In October, we celebrate Read for the Record and collaborate with other schools to share the book of the year.  Also in October is Digital Citizenship Week – the perfect time to teach this topic, and practice new skills like communicating kindly with someone else online.

In March we celebrate  World Read Aloud Day where my students connect with other classrooms around the United States to share information about each other’s state and read aloud to one another. Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie books are perfect books for Gerald, and the other, Piggie, Older students can the younger grades – one school can read the part of read two-part poems such as Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman  or read a Readers’ Theater version of a book, such as Judy Schachner’s  Skippyjon Jones- Lost in Spice, dividing the parts between the two schools.

Another favorite holiday I celebrate with my students Poem in Your Pocket Day.  This year, after reading a few examples of list poems, we collaboratively created list poems, using Google Hangout, and typing together on Google Drive as our students created and dictated the lines of the poems.

As students go farther and farther into their exploration of cyberspace, powerful digital citizenship lessons such as these will serve them well.

My collection of Digital Citizenship resources can be found here, or check out Julie’s blog!

Melissa McDonald is the School Library Media Specialist at Flower Hill Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and is the author of the blog, The Creative Librarian – Adventures in School Librarianship.


“Libraries really are the gates to the future.” ~Neil Gaiman

I just returned from the MASL (Maryland Association for School Librarians) annual conference and it is always so nice to spend a day focused on what we do best – sharing information!

In my e-mail this morning was a link to a fabulous article about the prolific and talented author Neil Gaiman.   I am attaching the link to his lecture for The Reading Agency, but wanted to include some of his quotes, in case you don’t have time to read the whole article! 

“Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.” Our world is becoming smaller and smaller every day, and we need to teach our students how to become global citizens.

“A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it.”  This is especially important to remember when we are school librarians in Title 1 schools – we are often our students’ only access to books.

“Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over.”

“I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us – as readers, as writers, as citizens – have obligations. I thought I’d try and spell out some of these obligations here.”

“I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.”

“We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.”

“We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.”

“We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time.”

“We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine.”  We must encourage our students to think outside the box, to dream, and to find ways to make the world a better place. 

We have an obligation to our students to continue to advocate for them.  Full-time school librarians are critical to our students’ success as they navigate research projects, are exposed to quality literature, and learn a love of reading for pleasure.  Last Wednesday, Julie Greller, who writes the blog “The Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet” posted several links to videos that praise school librarians and highlight the multitude of hats we wear to help make our students successful.  You can access her post by clicking here.  I hope you will take some time to view them, and share with others when you can!

The last idea I want to share with you is an event that ties in with the above, because the founder, Pernille Ripp,  was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s One Book, One Twitter book club– it is the Global Read Aloud and this  year’s project runs September 30th – November 8th. According to the website, there is no deadline to sign up and there are four different groups from which to choose:

Eric Carle Author Study – K and up

Marty McGuire by Kate Messner – 1st and up

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper – 4th and up

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach – 8th and up

Hope to connect with you soon!