Category Archives: Digital Citizenship

Why I Blog With my Elementary Students

BloggingEvery student has a passion in one of the core subject areas taught in school. For me, my passion was always math and social studies. For others, it is language arts,such as reading and writing. Not all students will like writing at first or feel confident with writing. However, in writing, every student has the opportunity to be successful given they are presented with a topic or genre that interests them. A digital medium to communicate ideas through writing is blogging, also known as edublogging (educational blogging). Blogging is currently being used with secondary and higher education students. Research has proven that students have much to gain from blogging for educational purposes. Key benefits of blogging include collaborative learning, increased engagement, feedback from a global audience, reflective thinking, improved writing, and development of technology skills.

More specifically:

  • Students benefit from working with their peers through sharing and discussing knowledge rather than working in isolation, which can be the case with paper journaling (Angelaina & Jimouianis, 2012; Chen, Liu, Shih, Wu, & Yuan, 2011; Halic, Lee, Paulus, & Spence, 2010; MacBride & Luehmann, 2008; Wang & Hsua, 2008; Zawilinski, 2009).
  • Blogging tools such as the commenting feature provide additional opportunities for student and teacher feedback (Deng & Yuen, 2009; Fessakis, Tatsis, & Dimitracopoulou, 2008; Manfra & Lee, 2012).
  • Working with an authentic audience motivates students to improve their writing, as students want their work to be understood and read (Fessakis et al., 2008; Howard, 2011; MacBride & Luehmann, 2008; McGrail & Davis, 2011).
  • Students have opportunities for questioning texts and thinking critically about subject matter when blogging activities are designed to respond in this manner (Arena, 2008; Zawilinski, 2009).
  • Students are more engaged with blogging than with writing traditional papers (Armstrong & Retterer, 2008; Ellison & Wu, 2008; Frye, Trathen & Koppenhaver, 2010).
  • The incorporation of visual literacy is often introduced when blogging (Arena, 2008; Drexler, Dawson, & Ferdig, 2007; Richardson, 2010). Students learn how to select media, which is appropriate for their content such as images, videos and sounds.

With the proper instructional design, teachers can incorporate blogging into their classroom, even with elementary students. These four key elements should be considered when designing instruction:

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Even though elementary students may require some support with technical skills, they may also benefit and enjoy student blogging. These are some recommendations on how to blog with younger students:

  • Select a blogging platform, which provides secure access to the site and a limited number of tools.
  • Discuss digital citizenship and blogging expectations to ensure a positive blogging experience for students.
  • Model literacy activities through the use of sample blog posts and provide a rubric to outline blogging requirements.
  • Select activities that meet curriculum outcomes and are relevant to student skills and interests.
  • Allow students to communicate ideas through written or audio blog posts with or without supporting media (photos, animation, videos, hyperlinks) in order to personalize learning.
  • Provide weekly in-class time for blogging activities, such as during computer sessions, centers or during literacy activities. Offer opportunities to blog at home for those students who wish to blog about topics of their choice.
  • Provide ongoing instructional support, guidance and feedback to ensure students are able to achieve bloggging outcomes.
  • Take advantage of the commenting feature as a way to praise and motivate students to continue discussing blog topics.
  • Involve students throughout the blogging process to ensure they are engaged during blogging activities and address any technical or scholarly issues.
  • Encourage students to peer mentor each other to enable mastery and confidence of skills

As an elementary educator, consider blogging activities the next time you need to instruct writing to your students. Your students may becoming even more engaged and interested in the topics you are learning and some will even want to write on the blog during their free time.

Click on this attached Blog Handout for details from this blog


Angelaina, S., & Jimoyiannis, A. (2012). Analysing students’ engagement and learning presence in an educational blog community. Educational Media International, 49(3), 183-200. doi: 10.1080/09523987.2012.738012

Arena, C. (2008). Blogging in the language classroom: It doesn’t “simply happen.” TESL-EJ, 11(4), 1-6. Retrieved from

Armstrong, K., & Retterer, O. (2008). Blogging as L2 writing: A case study. AACE Journal, 16(3), 233-251.

Chen, Y. L., Liu, E. Z., Shih, R. C., Wu, C. T., & Yuan, S. M. (2011). Use of peer feedback to enhance elementary students’ writing through blogging. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(1), E1-E4. doi:10.1111/j.14678535.2010.01139.x

Deng, L. & Yuen, A. H. K. (2009). Blogs in higher education: Implementation and issues. TechTrends: Linking Research And Practice To Improve Learning, 53(3), 95-98.

Drexler, W., Dawson, K., & Ferdig, R. E. (2007). Collaborative blogging as a means to develop elementary expository writing skills. Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, 6, 140-160.

Ellison, N., & Wu, Y. (2008). Blogging in the classroom: A preliminary exploration of student attitudes and impact on comprehension. Journal of Educational multimedia and Hypermedia, 17(1), 99-122.

Fessakis, G., Tatsis, K., & Dimitracopoulou, A. (2008). Supporting “learning by design” activities using group blogs. Educational Technology & Society, 11(4), 199-212.

Frye, E. M., Trathen, W., & Koppenhaver, D. A. (2010). Internet workshop and blog publishing: Meeting student (and teacher) learning needs to achieve best practice in the twenty-first-century social studies classroom. Social Studies, 101(2), 46-53. doi:10.1080/00377990903284070

Halic, O., Lee, D., Paulus, T., & Spence, M. (2010). To blog or not to blog: Student perceptions of blog effectiveness for learning in a college-level course. Internet And Higher Education, 13(4), 206-213. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.04.001

Howard, M. (2011). Not an unfeasible “extra”. Science And Children, 49(4), 32-35.

MacBride, R., & Luehmann, A. (2008). Capitalizing on emerging technologies: A case study of classroom blogging. School Science And Mathematics, 108(5), 173-18.

Manfra, M., & Lee, J. K. (2012). “You have to know the past to (blog) the present”: Using an educational blog to engage students in U.S. history. Computers In The Schools, 29(1-2), 118-134. doi: 10.1080/07380569.2012.656543

McGrail, E., & Davis, A. (2011). The influence of classroom blogging on elementary student writing. Journal Of Research In Childhood Education, 25(4), 415-437. doi:10.1080/02568543.2011.605205

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful Web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

Wang, S., & Hsua, H. (2008). Reflections on using blogs to expand in-class discussion. Techtrends: Linking Research And Practice To Improve Learning, 52(3), 81-85.

Zawilinski, L. (2009). HOT blogging: A framework for blogging to promote higher order thinking. Reading Teacher, 62(8), 650-661. doi:10.1598/RT.62.8.3


How to Connect (Digitally) with Parents to Communicate Student Learning

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As the new school year quickly approaches, educators will need to determine how they would like to best communicate student learning with parents. Traditionally, teachers send out a letter the first day of school welcoming students into their classroom and listing out some of the items and goals for the school year. Throughout the year written letters or emails are sent as a form of keeping parents up to date on student learning. Schools will post monthly digital newsletters and sometimes include an entry ballot parents need to print off for a monthly draw.

With the emergence of social media and mobile learning (New Media Consortium, 2013), and more parents connected to others through tablets/Smartphones, teachers and administrators can consider the utilization of technology tools to stay connected with parents when informing them of student learning. Here are a few tools that could be used to communicate student learning with parents and families:

1) Online surveys/questionnaires

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2) Social Media

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3) Blogging

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4) QR codes

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 When deciding which tool is right for your school or classroom, you will need to:

Understand the demographics of your families: Although many families are connected online, not all families have access to technology. It will be important to know how families prefer to communicate or even providing parents with more than one method of accessing the message such as a Tweet through Twitter and a written agenda message.

Select a tool that communicates learning more effectively: Technology is not an optimal choice for all forms of communications, but can sometimes be a better choice. If teachers rely on email communication or agendas to send reminders about library books (as an example), then the Remind app or even a LMS (learning management system) can be a better option for communication. If the goal is to practice printing while having the student communicate reminders to parents, then written agendas are a better option.

Know your school board’s technology plan and policies: The tools on the list are examples of some of the ways teachers can better engage with parents, but some of these ways may have restricted access within the school board. Make sure you have permission to create and maintain a social media account and always share this site with your administrator. Keep your admin informed and be cautious when posting information online. Even though the intent is to keep parents up-to-date, specific information identifying your students or pictures posted without consent can be very problematic and unethical. When in doubt, leave it out or ask for a second opinion.

Sometimes it’s the little old-fashioned things that start the school year off with positivity and enthusiasm, such as the school postcard we received through mail welcoming us back to a new school year.

Here’s to another fabulous year of learning for both teachers and students alike!



New Media Consortium. (2013). Horizon Report, K-12. Retrieved from

Blogging Expectations With Elementary Students

Before beginning our grade 3 blogging project each year, we go through a list of blogging expectations with our students. With any online tool, it is important to discuss guidelines with students so they may participate in a safe, secure and caring online environment. Whether students are in elementary school or secondary school, they should understand appropriate netiquette that is involved with this form of digital communication. The guidelines I set with my students have been inspired from samples seen online and from a reading on digital citizenship norms created by Ribble, Bailey, & Ross (2004). They wrote an article discussing the notion of Digital Citizenship and how to address appropriate technology behavior. They go through nine different norms that need to be addressed when working with Web 2.0 tools. If you are not familiar with these norms, I encourage you to read through their article as they are applicable to all online users.

I have included our blogging expectations as an example of how you could set guidelines with your students or children who wish to blog privately or publicly. Our students are blogging privately, meaning that only their classmates, teacher and parents can view their posts.This is why we allow a little more freedom in our blogging environment as their identify and personal information is better protected. As this is my second year blogging with students, I feel more comfortable working in a private blogging site than opening it to the public. As I get more comfortable with blogging, I will consider opening it up to the public based on administrator input and comfort level.

Image* In the blogging website section, I have removed the rest of the hyperlink for privacy reasons, but students have the direct link to click on to access their classroom account

If you are blogging publicly, you may want to consider adding different expectations as their posts can be viewed by anyone and will have less privacy restrictions on names and images. The age of your students will also determine whether you want to review posts or comments before they are published for the class. I find that with first time bloggers, students need a guidance in how to write appropriate responses to their peers.


Ribble, M., Bailey, G., & Ross, T. (2004). Digital citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behavior. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(1), 6-12. Retrieved from

Digital Citizenship Norms to Consider When Selecting Apps for the Classroom

The Internet can be overwhelming with the amount of apps and tools available to students.  As educators or parents it can be difficult to keep up with the trending technology or even attempt to become an expert in each tool. Even tools we are already familiar with are continually evolving. Although it can be challenging to learn all tools, it is important that we understand its characteristics and how the tool allows students to be good digital citizens. Ribble, Bailey, & Ross (2004) provide 9 norms to digital citizenship (see Digital Citizenship Norms (EDER679.10)) that should be reviewed when considering app use.

The most important norm to review first would be security (Ribble et al., 2004). Make sure to understand how the tool is being accessed whether it is public, password protected or private. Students should be aware of who has access to their information and content and why it is important to keep certain information private. Take Facebook for example, Facebook has many different privacy settings such as who can access your Facebook page, who can email you, who can view your pictures, who can see where you are living, your birthday, etc. Students should understand why they should limit who has access to their information and what they should share online. Some businesses today are looking at sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to learn more about potential employees. If a student has a bad digital footprint, they are less likely to get the job they want.

Next, I would consider communication (Ribble et al., 2004). Do students have opportunities to communicate with others through the online tool? If so, can they do it in a safe manner? Are their conversations public or private? Take Twitter for example; every post communicated through Twitter is public to the entire world unless the message is sent through a direct message. This can be a huge security issue for younger students, as they may not understand that what goes out there, stays out there. I am aware that younger students cannot own their own Twitter account as they are too young, but if educators decide to go ahead with a class Twitter account, they will need to have a plan in place to educate (education norm) their students on proper netiquette (etiquette norm) and responsibility.

With every good app, the last step would be to have a plan to educate students on proper technology use of the identified tool (education norm – Ribble et al., 2004). Students need to be aware of the positive and negative impact they could have when using the tool. This is where the other norms come into play with being a responsible user (responsibility norm), understanding intellectual property rights (rights norm), avoiding online purchases (commerce norm) and understanding the security and communication norms discussed above.

Once you are happy with the education plan you have set for your students, you are ready to use the apps of your choice. I must mention that norms do not need to be applied in the same way or with the same focus as each learner and each classroom is different. Perhaps you are teaching students who already have a good foundation in digital citizenship and may be able to use apps that are more public and in a wider social network. As long as the norms have been taken into account and you can ensure student online security, then you are well on your way!

My next project is to create an app checklist incorporating some of these digital citizenship norms. If you have created an app checklist, I’d love to see it.

Ribble, M., Bailey, G., & Ross, T. (2004). Digital citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behavior. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(1), 6-12. Retrieved from

Digital Citizenship Norms (EDER 679.10)

Today’s society is engaged in a participatory culture (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robinson, 2009): they are interconnected through social media and technology. Individuals are creating, sharing, and posting information/media with a global audience, sometimes unaware of the effects of their online behaviours. As educators, bust most importantly, educational technology leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a policy in place that addresses digital citizenship – “the norms of behavior with regards to technology use” (Ribble, Bailey, & Ross, 2004, p. 7). Students should engage in responsible technology use, as they would engage as responsible citizens in the classroom and in their communities (Kowch, 2013).

Educators need to understand the digital world and how it affects students and their learning. School board policies should be reviewed and understood. Schools need to create a school digital plan that address the norms and behaviors expected of students within their particular context (micro, meso, macro levels). Each age level will require a certain set of norms, as students use technology in different ways inside and outside of the classroom. Digital norms ought to be applied in both settings. It would be very destructive to tell students that they have to be responsible at school and then let them decide how to behave at home.

Once educators have created a digital citizenship/technology plan, they then need to educate and instruct students on the importance of these norms. Students should be cognizant of their digital footprint (i.e what is posted online can outlive you and can define you as a person), should engage in responsible communication (i.e. respect individuals online and do not cyberbully others), and use technology in a safe way (i.e. use a system that is secure and not sharing personal information with people they don’t know). Ribble et al. (2004) provide a list of 9 norms to digital citizenship which can help you determine which norms will guide your school technology use. These include (p. 7):

  1. Etiquette
  2. Communication
  3. Education
  4. Access
  5. Commerce
  6. Responsibility
  7. Rights
  8. Safety
  9. Security

Being connected with a global and online world, students and educators need to be aware of the potential dangers and be proactive in ensuring that those utilizing technology should do so in a safe and responsible manner.


Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robinson, A. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press. Retrieved from

Ribble, M., Bailey, G., & Ross, T. (2004). Digital citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behavior. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(1), 6-12. Retrieved from

Digital Citizenship Discussion

Students are interested in using Web 2.0 Tools. With these tools, one needs to be cognizant of how to conduct oneself online (netiquette). This month I asked my students to describe how they have been good online citizens. Here are some of their responses:

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Example 1

Example 2

Example 3Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 5.40.52 PMWhat I appreciated the most about this assignment was that they brought up some suggestions that were not previously mentioned on our digital citizenship poster (re: How do we become better digital citizens?). We had discussions about:

  • Why Facebook and Twitter asks for your age
  • Why people send spam
  • Why personal information should not be shared with people we don’t know
  • Why we don’t write in ALL CAPS
  • Why we need permission to use images in our work

I can’t stress this enough with my students, that when working online, one needs to be safe and responsible. I strongly encourage students to share their accounts with their parents while they are this young so that way they can learn together how to conduct themselves responsibly while using social media. If they practice these skills with guidance from their teacher or parents, when they are older they will know what to do when they have more privacy with their accounts.

How do we become better digital citizens?

I have spent many months reading up on trends in ed tech including the integration of mobile apps and blogging. It wasn’t until this week that I stopped and asked myself, what about the citizenship aspect of 21st century technologies? Our school has an extensive list of how to interact with others appropriately using email and we have a very detailed policy in place that parents need to sign every year. I spend a considerable amount of time going over digital conduct and even go as far as showing a video on Internet safety. The one thing we were lacking was a nice kid-friendly reminder somewhere in our learning commons citing good online behaviour. I believe it is important to teach students how to conduct themselves online, to ensure they are safe and respectful towards others.

It is for this reason, that I was on a mission to create a kid friendly poster. I have been inspired by the following links on netiquette:

Attached is my kid-friendly poster on digital citizenship at the K-4 level. If I were teaching older students, I would add info about plagiarism (intellectual property) and proper grammar/sentence structure as they are capable of these skills at that age.

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 4.54.01 PMScreen Shot 2013-05-25 at 12.54.11 PMDigital Citizenship Poster 11X17

Now that you have some guidelines, check out these interactive resources on digital citizenship:
Garfield videos discussing: cyber bullying, self-esteem, self-control, peer pressure, listening, online safety, fact or opinion, giving back, diversity, forms of media of several Games discussing digital literacy/citizenship by MediaSmart Digital Passport Program (log in required)

Teacher Resources from Google:


Common Sense Media. (2013). Digital passport. Retrieved from

Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. (2012). 10 excellent digital citizenship tips for our students and kids. Retrieved from

Edudemic. (2012, July 22). 10 interactive lessons by Google on digital citizenship. Retrieved from

Edutopia. (2008, August 13). Beyond Emily: Post-ing etiquette. Retrieved from

Infinite Learning Lab. (2013). Homepage. Retrieved from

Media Smarts. (n.d.). Educational games. Retrieved from

Weir, L. (2008, August 13). Online manners matter. Retrieved from