Comments, Compliments, & Digital Citizenship

Teaching digital citizenship is not easy.  Although our students use social media daily, how are they using social media and is it in a way that is respectful to others.  I say this because as my students engage in a global collaborative project about digital citizenship, I am learning that young people need many, many models of what responsible and respectful digital citizenship looks like.

For our global collaborative project, students are using Edmodo to introduce themselves to one another and share research and ideas before working together in small groups to write a research report on a Wiki.  For the first assignment students were to create a video, blog post, or Voki to introduce themselves to the group.  After students uploaded their handshake assignment onto Edmodo, students could view each other’s posts and leave comments.  Here is a screenshot of many of the types of comments that I saw from students.


This then led to a lesson on how to comment on each other’s blogs and posts.  I asked that student comments need to fulfill the following criteria: (1) Be positive and no put downs, (2) Be specific, (3) Find something to connect to, (4) Ask a question, (5) No chat or text lingo.

I realized that students do not really know how to sincerely complement each other.  When I would see or hear students complimenting each other it seemed superficial and on a surface level, “I like your sweater” or “Those are cool kicks.”  I was inspired by the video below and spent this week teaching and talking about sincere compliments to help building community and comradery in my classroom.

In middle school it is often challenging to teach sincere compliments and expect 100% full participation and practice. As much as teachers and adults model this, I still see students being mean to one another in the cafeteria and sometimes in the hallways in between classes.  My students are quick to judge one another. I have often interjected when I heard one student put another student down and the first response was, “I was just joking. He is my friend.”  My response was, “When was the last time you two hung out together?  Is he one of the contacts in your phone? Can I see.”

Schools spend lots of money on anti-bullying curriculum and assemblies and students are tired of hearing the anti-bullying messages. Yet, bullying is still going on in and outside of school. We see it in the media and in popular movies. The question is what is going to work to help make our culture more understanding and sensitive to people’s differences.  This is a challenge I face everyday.  If you have any ideas or if you are doing is working please share your ideas.

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