Thursday, November 6, 2014

Digital Citizenship - This is How We Do It

Positive, collaborative digital citizenship is the best Internet filter out there. My art students are 4-8 years old. I model good digital citizenship. Everything I do on digital media or put out in cyberspace is public and permanent. I tell my students this, too. Think about your well-being. When it is out there, it’s out there. What impact it will have on you and others? All of my students are digital citizens. They are on the Internet in school’s computer lab. Each one of them has an online art portfolio on Artsonia. I have been given the stewardship of technology for my art students. It is important to empower students with a positive self-image and outlook of digital citizenship. My artists do not have their own devices to use although if they did, they could register them with our school system’s BYOD program.

We recently did a cake project referencing the great artist, Wayne Thiebaud. First of all, they recognized his genius right away. The art looks yummy. Secondly, they were convinced they too could make a million dollar painting and more. My students exhibit online. They know why we don’t put our last name on photographed artwork for Artsonia. It is for their safety and Artsonia will not post it with a full name or direct photo of a student. I show respect for myself and others. I go over my references when I create a project with resources from others. They are learning to give credit and to ask permission. It is natural for artists to want to share and collaborate appropriately, and to be recognized and/or paid for their work. I am working on a curation project showing achievements of young artists with technology.

Where We Are
Our school system is in a rural, conservative community. One of the most positive aspects of this is looking after one another. At our school, everyone cares for them. I grew up in suburbia and had the latest technology when it was available. Many of my students do not have Internet access at home. What they learn about digital citizenship comes from their classroom teacher and resource teachers, One is a computer lab assistant. This remarkable woman is paid an assistant’s salary to teach computer lab to nearly 600 students a week. I hope they are taught citizenship, digital or otherwise at home, too but I don’t count on it. Our school system uses a filtering system that can be customized for different users. The two main user groups are teachers and students. The system is called iBoss from Phantom Technologies. We have a technology administrator and crew, 6 total for about 2500 students and staff. We have Apps for grades and student information for students, staff, and parents.

The Remarkable Woman, Nancy Eagle

Here’s is my favorite tweet about iBoss:

I'm dressing up as iBoss for Halloween this year then not letting people open the door when I ring the door bell #loginfailed

Comparing Digital Citizenship, I looked 2 hours east where I grew up in Chesterfield County, VA. There are about 60,000 students and staff. Ninety-two percent of the students have Internet access at home. They have 10 Technology Division wide Directors, Managers, and Key Support members and specialty high schools. Their plan, Design for Excellence 2020 has a second of three key goals as technology:

Goal 2 — All learners will demonstrate the 21st-century learning and technology skills and knowledge that will prepare them for success in school, postsecondary education, work and life in a global society.

Next I looked at a nearby county with a smaller population. Charlotte County has less the 1900 students and a declining enrollment. Here’s a link to their AUP and student agreement. Our plan is similar. Our technology director left Charlotte County to join us. We have an express version of our AUP, only two pages. Well Done!

Our AUP is easy to understand and if we ever have a question we are encouraged to check in with our tech department. Every year, they provide a presentation and contact information so we know what’s new, what’s changed and how to proceed. For technical difficulties, we check with our tech building rep and have tech help requests to post if necessary. I demonstrate asking for help and checking references when needed. I present authentic questions, sources, problem solving, and connections so students will know there is a wealth of information in digital citizenship. If young artists know what good citizenship looks like, they can model it.


Appomattox County Public Schools. (2014). All information and photo retrieved from county website,

ArtistArchive. (May 10th, 2008). Wayne Thiebaud - CBS Sunday Morning. Retrieved from

Charlotte County Public Schools. (2014). All information retrieved from county website, (2014.) Design For Excellence 2020.Retrieved from

Kevin Brown Twitter Quote. Retrieved from Kevin Brown@therealkbrown Oct 28th 2014.


  1. Hi Valerie:

    I love that you teach your students about giving credit to others! This is something we talk about with our sixth graders as well. In middle school, they are starting now more than ever to use others’ work for their projects and papers so it’s important they know how to do this correctly. I think it’s great you do this with your students because I wish it was something that more of our teachers did on a consistent basis.

    It was very interesting to hear about your school’s population. I come from, and currently teach, in a school like your hometown so I could not imagine students not having internet access at home. I applaud you for taking on some responsibility of teaching them digital citizenship skills since it seems like most of your students don’t get it at home. That’s wonderful!

    I really liked how you incorporated the use of 21st century learning and technology skillsin your second goal. Mentioning the fact that you want to prepare them for not only school but the workforce and life in a global society is a great idea. That’s something that I hope my students are learning not only from me as their teacher but from their time here at our school. I want them to understand that the good practices they’re learning actually can translate into the real world. I liked how you mentioned presenting authentic question, problem solving and connections, all of those things will provide students with great experience that will hopefully translate and stay with them as they get older.

    Thanks for sharing! ☺

    1. Alyssa,

      Friday was my 21st century skills and technology trouble shooting day. The second goal mentioned in my blog is actually from where I grew up not where I teach. "Design for 2020" is an awesome plan for Chesterfield County Public Schools and they have the numbers to pull it off. Our school system does not work the same way. If you want it fixed, fix it yourself or die waiting.

      My computer at school wouldn't work.It wasn't so bad for my current lessons but for my planning it stunk. I need access to visuals, plans, and working materials in one place at the same time. I had to go to another teacher to file the tech report. No one showed up so I had to fix it myself because I have to have access.( Last time I filed a report it took six days. The time before that 3 months.) Lots of work on my own time and now I yet again have to come in on the weekend but it is all worth it.

      I talk to my students about troubleshooting technology too. Did you restart the computer? Did you check all the connections? I know they are young but they need to know what they will be expected to do when they are a bit older. I am not called a "resource" teacher for nothing. To be a great digital citizens, we learn the basics, know where to go for help, how to adapt if something doesn't work,and collaborate with others. I could not have solved my problem without the help of others.


  2. I love the way you are teaching your student's positive digital citizenship in a very real way. They are being part of the community by sharing their art work and viewing other's art. The clip about Wayne Thiebaud was great. I think kids need to be more in touch with the true feelings of others. He didn't think that he would be successful, the guy who gave him a chance didn't think it would really work, but he gave him the opportunity anyway. Then when it took off, he was overwhelmed, to the point that forty years later he is still humble and touched by his success. I want that for any one who is that successful. They should appreciate for the rest of their life and not loose touch with everyone else.

    1. Chris,

      My kids are artists, They know this. I would argue everyone is in their way. Self respect and perseverance build people up as artists, digital citizens, and a human beings. I don't know an important life lesson art does not touch. Being creative, I can tell you how math adds up to love and science is about searching for your soul. Wayne Thieband is a great life lesson. It is all about making connections with others, ideas, feelings, what's next, what can make it better, when to contemplate, take the time and appreciate. Enjoy the ride.