Navigating The Digital World: A New Course for Grade 7s This Year
Jen Weening, Technology Integration Specialist: Middle & Senior Schools
Our lives and our students’ lives are more online than ever before, especially since March, when “Google Meet” and “remote learning” became regular words in our vocabulary. Even before then, however, the role of technology in students’ academic and personal lives was undeniable, and yet we saw time and time again that although students were regularly immersed in technology and comfortable in the digital environment, they did not naturally have all of the skills they needed to navigate this world successfully. It was in response to this that Mrs. Courtney Taylor and I proposed a new course for Grade 7 students focused on “navigating the digital world”, which would seek to explicitly cover some of the digital skills that students need in order to be both safe and effective when using technology.
To that end, Mrs. Taylor and I developed the course to focus on three main areas of technology use: practical digital skills, digital citizenship, and coding and robotics. Practical digital skills include using specific apps, establishing workflows, managing files, improving typing speed and technique, and using assistive technology. These skills will often be taught in connection with work that students are doing in their other classes in order to support and enhance teachers’ use of technology for curricular purposes.
A significant chunk of time will also be spent exploring themes of digital citizenship and digital literacy, such as password security, being kind online, avoiding phishing scams, and protecting our personal information. We will make use of Google’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum, along with resources and activities to explore topics like bias, fake news, clickbait, and assessing online sources.
Finally, we hope to integrate some fun and hands-on coding activities, in partnership with Mrs. Edwards’ math course, to get students using computational thinking skills and understanding a bit of the theory behind how computers work.
As a School, we strive for Technology with Balance, and our current Strategic Plan has two particular strands that align well with our vision for the course: to “continue homegrown innovation in pedagogy, curriculum and new course development” and to “implement specific instructional unit plans focused on considered and balanced use of technology”.
Now that Middle and Senior School students have access to a device at all times while at school, knowing how to manage themselves and their devices is more important than ever, and striking the right balance with technology can be elusive. It is our hope that this new course will help to give Grade 7 students the skills and practice they need to “navigate the digital world” safely and effectively.