Digital Citizenship Skills that Enable and Inspire
It is our vision at Piedmont Middle School that our students will develop a comprehensive set of digital citizenship skills and values that enable and inspire each student to behave ethically, think critically, and participate safely, responsibly and productively in their use of digital technologies and media.
Why It Matters
In this digital age PMS recognizes that technology is fundamental in our increasingly global "flat" world, and is committed to the acquisition, development and support of effective educational technology that provides students real world contexts for learning, connections to larger learning communities, and opportunities to individualize and apply knowledge. While we aim to provide students the opportunity to leverage the immense power of digital media to explore, create, connect, and learn, it is imperative that we also enable students with the knowledge, values and skill set to limit the perils that exist in the online realm, such as plagiarism, loss of privacy, and cyberbullying.
It Takes a Village!
We achieve these goals through our Connected Learning Initiative that includes a multifaceted approach that emcompasses all members of the school community, including, students, teachers, administrators, counselors and parents. Through our partnership with Common Sense Education, we take a whole-community approach, using Common Sense Education's innovative and research-based digital citizenship resources. The resources teach students, educators, and parents tangible skills related to internet safety, protecting online reputations and personal privacy, managing online relationships, and respecting creative copyright. Through professional development training for our teachers, regular parent-engagement nights, and an organized school-wide effort that ensures digital citizenship lessons are taught in every grade across the subjects, we are invested in our commitment to reach EVERY student and ALL parts of our community. This work is the reason why Piedmont Middle has been a Common Sense Education Certified School for three years running!
Access and Achievement for All
PMS is invested in ensuring that all students benefit from this school-wide effort to increase digital citizenship and digital literacy. We accomplish this first by ensuring that every student at Piedmont Middle School is equipped with the resources they need to access the vast digital landscape. As a 1:1 to school, we provide a chromebook for every student at PMS. For students who may not have wifi access at home, we provide cellular hotspots available for students to check out if needed. The hot spots include features that better support educational needs:
- content filtering using a CIPA-compliant filter
- access that turns off from 11pm-7am to encourage good sleeping habits
PMS also ensures equity of access to content and tools by deploying a variety of additional digital tools for differentiation and personalization of learning, based on the unique needs of each learner. This effort is support by our Technology Coordinator as well as a Special Education Assistive Technology Paraprofessional who coordinates the assistive technology, and supports students in learning how to use these valuable tools. All students have access to our Technology Help Desk throughout the day, so they always have a place they can seek out help and support with their technology needs. Our Common Sense Education Lessons provide regular opportunities for all our students to discuss, reflect, and meaningfully interact on topics centered around their digital lives. These lessons also provide teachers a framework and a lense to engage with their students on these issues that are so central to their educational and personal lives. This is one small part of our continuing effort to meet one of our primary goals in our Local Control Accountability Act- "All students will feel physically safe, emotionally cared for, and academically and socially included in their school environment." Our emphasis on realizing this goal through multiple means is one of the primary ways we strive to reduce absenteeism and reduce behaviors that require disciplinary action (detention, suspension, etc.).
By providing consistent access, differentiation and support for all our students, and ensuring that every student is taught 9 formal lessons focused on digital literacy and citizenship throughout their three years at PMS, we aim to increase student achievement and engagement. Our Connected Learning Initiative built on our partnership with Common Sense Education achieves greater access to 21st Century Learning, including:
- The 4 C's: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical-Computational Thinking.
- Improved writing skills with more instruction and practice in class, and access at home.
- Further implementation of Common Core State Standards.
- Increase in differentiation with additional tools and access to new formative measures.
- Better citizenship in ALL of our communities, digital and physical.
Keeping an Eye on What's Important
Piedmont Middle School uses a CIPA- compliant (Children's Internet Protection Act) cloud-based filtering system called GoGuardian. This system allows us to provide content filtering to all students both at home and at school on their school issued chromebooks, with many levels of differentiated filtering. GoGuardian also provides alerts for concerning web activity that may indicate student suffering, intention for self-harm, or any potentially reckless behavior. By making this activity visible and trackable, our school leadership, including our administration, counselors, and school psychologist have the ability to provide the appropriate behavioral and social-emotional support to the students who might need it most.
Aligning our Work with our LCAP Goals
This effort is also another primary way we seek to align our efforts with our LCAP's second goal- "All students will graduate with the 21st century learning skills needed for college and career... and continue the work of integrating technology meaningfully with content instruction." Specifically, LCAP Goal 2.10 states that we will "continue the work of integrating technology meaningfully with content instruction; implement related action items from the District Instructional Technology Plan." One of the central tenants of PUSD's Instructional Technology Plan is included in the plan's vision statement which states, "PUSD learners will use technology in learning experiences that prepare them to be active, knowledgeable and ethical 21st century citizens in our globally connected society." Piedmont Middle School's unique approach to this is by placing digital citizenship at the center of this effort. Our partnership with Common Sense Education, and commitment to infusing digital citizenship in our work with all stakeholders in our school community (including students, staff and parents) is fundamental to PMS's unique approach to realizing this specific LCAP goal. This effort is built on a foundation of ensuring that EVERY member of our student population has access to both the technology required to meet these goals, as well as differentiated supports, so that no matter the learning difference or socio-economic difference, there is equity in access (see the above section, Access and Achievement for All). And, the results are telling. Our data and evidence suggests that two of our targeted groups as stated in our LCAP Goals (students with disabilities and our gifted-and-talented students), as well as our socially and economically disadvantaged students, are achieving in this goal at the same rates as our non-targeted students (please see the section below, Results that Matter). We also take pride in our effort at meeting our first LCAP Goal- "All students will feel physically safe, emotionally cared for, and academically and socially included in their school environment." The results of the 2017-2018 California Healthy Kids Survey demonstrate that achieving this goal has been a real strength for our school. This survey, which has been administered to our 7th graders over the last few years, show a consistent improvement in students' feelings and attitudes about "school connectedness", "caring adult relationships" and "meaningful participation at school." In fact, 46% of the students who participated in the survey reported that they "strongly agree" that they have a strong connection to their school and school community. This is almost more than twice our county average (21%). In fact we are even far exceeding California schools in a similar demographic to ours in this area, where the average of students reporting a strong connection to their school and school community is about 31%. Even in our own school district this high number is unique to our school. While we attribute this to a number of factors, we believe our partnership with Common Sense Education and our focus on engaging all parts of our school community in positive digital citizenship is a big part of this success. As these results come within a national context of increased social media-use and a related increase in teen anxiety and social isolation, we believe our unique approach to this work is paying tremendous dividends when it comes to the well-being of our students and meeting the high bar set by LCAP Goals. For more on this, see see the section below, Results that Matter.
Digital Literacy in Practice
Our Connected Learning Initiative is a multifaceted model that emcompasses all members of the school community, including, students, teachers, administrators, counselors and parents. Through our partnership with Common Sense Education, we take a whole-community approach, using Common Sense Education's innovative and research-based digital citizenship resources. Through professional development and training for our teachers, regular parent-engagement nights, and an organized school-wide effort that ensures digital citizenship lessons are taught in every grade across the subjects, we approach this work with a focused lense and a organized, deliberate and thorough model that includes consistent feedback, monitoring, and reflection.
Parent Engagement Nights
Our Parent Engagement Nights are a continuing series here at PMS as part of our Connected Learning Initiative. Facilitated by our PMS Technology Coordinator, Adam Saville, we focus on the issues and challenges families face in helping kids navigate the digital world. Our goal is to support and empower parents raising kids who behave ethically, think critically, and participate safely, responsibly and productively in their use of digital technologies and media. Past Parent Engagement Nights have focused on a variety of topics. See below for information on these events as well as resources for families.
What Does it All Meme?!
A Parent Engagement Night focused on the culture of memes. The presentation explores meme culture's history and humor as well as its dangers and pitfalls. We explore how memes can be a positive means of expressing humor and creative ideas, but can also become hurtful tools for communicating racist, sexist, and hateful messages. We also discuss how adults can provide support and help protect kids from some of the damaging effects of meme culture. To view a video of the entire presentation, click HERE.
A Parent Engagement Night that takes a deep dive into the most popular social media apps and websites for teens. Social media topics we explore include texting, microblogging, live-streaming, self-destructing/secret communication, and chatting/meeting/dating. The more you know about each of these topics and apps, the better you'll be able to communicate with your teen about safe choices.
Raising Kids in the Digital World
A Parent Engagement Night focused on the challenges that parents face raising kids in a digital world. Together, we’ll share experiences, best practices, and resources that parents can use to support their kids in managing technology and media use in the digital age. This night is a great opportunity to reestablish expectations and healthy new norms regarding technology-use in your home.
Student Panel Discussions
Over the last few years, as a regular part of our Parent Engagement Nights, PMS has hosted a series of student panel discussions. These evenings offer parents an opportunity to hear from the kids themselves about the ups and downs of their digital world. Panel discussions include groups of students from not only Piedmont Middle School, but from Piedmont High School as well. Hear what's happening now, and what's to come.
A Comprehensive Approach
Students' exposure to our digital citizenship curriculum and culture begins from the moment they enter Piedmont Middle School in 6th grade. All 6th graders at PMS kick off their time here in Scots Camp, a multi-day orientation program designed to welcome sixth graders to the PMS community during the first few days of school. Led by 6th grade teachers and supported by 8th grade students, "camp counselors", Scots Camp includes team-building games that promote a sense of community among the sixth graders. Because of the involvement of eighth graders, the camp also promotes a sense of community between the sixth grade and eighth grade. Scots Camp also includes a mix of practical guidance for students (such as how to navigate the unique layout of our campus) and discussions about the core values of the Middle School (such as being an “Upstander”). Scots Camp also includes an introduction to digital citizenship, as students learn about the proper use and care of chromebooks, and the expectations around appropriate online behavior.
Each school year at PMS begins with each student at PMS receiving their school-appointed chromebooks. These chromebooks remain very "locked down" with a significant amount of filtering until all students complete a Digital Citizenship Exam. This exam not only reinforces many of the staples of our digital citizenship curriculum, while providing an opportunity to review those values and skills, but is also one of the many ways we are able to monitor and assess our work with kids in this area.
As a Common Sense Education Certified School, we teach digital citizenship lessons in every grade across the subjects. By the end of their time here at PMS students will have had at least nine formal dedicated lessons specifically focused on eight facets of Digital Citizenship. That doesn’t include the multiple ways these lessons are integrated into the curriculum on a day-to-day basis. These eight facets (pictured below) remain central to our work as a Common Sense Education Certified School. These lessons are also another tool we use in monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of our digital citizenship instruction.
Professional Learning and Shared Leadership
By teaching Common Sense Education lessons in every grade across the subjects, we've worked to establish a school-wide culture that is committed to digital citizenship. With lessons coming to students from different teachers and different disciplines, our goal is to deepen teachers' engagement with students around digital literacy and citizenship. We want to help encourage some common language as a school community, as well as to demonstrate to students that all their teachers are engaged and invested in this aspect of their social and academic lives. Over the last few years we've provided training and professional development to our staff focused on different aspects of digital citizenship and Common Sense Education's curriculum. Our effort in providing regular training for teachers is one of the many reasons we have remained a Common Sense Education Certified School for the last 3 years!
Results that Matter
The Feedback Loop
Between the Digital Citizenship Exam that we administer each year; to multiple qualitative and quantitative forms of feedback that we receive from teachers and students as part of the Common Sense Education lessons; to the student surveys we conduct on a regular basis that gauge and measure students' thoughts, attitudes, and experience regarding their digital lives, we are provided a tremendous amount of data that informs and shapes our work on the topic. This feedback loop has influenced every aspect of our work around the topic, at times causing us to shift our emphasis with some of our Common Sense Lessons, supplement those lessons with other digital citizenship lessons, as well as influence our topic choices for our Parent Engagement Nights. We reflect on this work as a school staff at our staff meetings and department leadership meetings, as well as with our parent community at Parent Club Meetings and our School Site Council.
It's in the Numbers
Each year, for the last four years, our students' performance on our annual Digital Citizenship Exam has improved. This year (2018-2019), over 92% of our students scored 80% or better on the exam. Our regular student surveys have had a consistent participation rate of 80% or more. The results of these surveys are routinely shared with our staff as well as our parents at our Parent Club Meetings, School Site Council, and Parent Engagement Nights. Below is some of the data collected from some of our student surveys over the last few years.
California Healthy Kids Survey Results
We also take pride in our effort at meeting our first LCAP Goal- "All students will feel physically safe, emotionally cared for, and academically and socially included in their school environment." The results of the 2017-2018 California Healthy Kids Survey demonstrate that achieving this goal has been a real strength for our school. This survey, which has been administered to our 7th graders over the last few years, show a consistent improvement in students' feelings and attitudes about "school connectedness", "caring adult relationships" and "meaningful participation at school." Results from 2017-2018 Survey show some real telling factors about our work in this area:
- 46% of our students who participated in the survey reported that they "strongly agree" that they have a strong connection to their school and school community. This is almost more than twice our county average (21%). In fact we are even far exceeding California schools in a similar demographic to ours in this area, where the average of students reporting a strong connection to their school and school community is about 31%.
- 47% of our students who participated in the survey reported that they "strongly agree" that they have caring relationships with adults at their school. The county average is 30%, and the average among California schools in a similar demographic to ours is 26%.
- 25% of our students who participated in the survey reported that they "strongly agree" that they meaningfully participate at school. The county average is 13%, and the average among California schools in a similar demographic to ours is just under 14%.
Even in our own school district these high numbers are unique. While we attribute this to a number of factors, we believe our partnership with Common Sense Education and our focus on engaging all parts of our school community in positive digital citizenship is a big part of this success. As these results come within a national context of increased social media-use and a related increase in teen anxiety and social isolation, we believe our unique approach to this work is paying tremendous dividends when it comes to the well-being of our students.