27 Oct 2017
Comments: 1

How do you Support Students with Managing their Digital Lives?

You know… I didn’t realize how popular the topic of student professional development would be. I have had some great feedback from many of you through a variety of social media channels. So it made sense to share this next topic as well.

Tell me About this Day with Students

This started out rather organically… We offer the PSAT to our Sophomores and Juniors during the school day. That leaves our Freshmen with a few hours of unscheduled time. This year… administration decided to put on a multi-faceted program for them. Essentially, we divided the 3 hours into 4 45 minute sessions:

  • Session 1: This was put on by our counselors. They had a panel of all types of students which allowed Freshmen to hear stories, choices, and experiences that could enlighten and impact their next 3 years.
  • Session 2: This session was led by students and staff and focused on Challenge Success… so it looked at some of the myths of WHS and the opportunities that students have to find their individual passions. (If you are not familiar with Challenge Success, I have linked their site here and highly recommend this book… “Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids”). We used it as a book study here for the past two years).
  • Session 3: This session was led by our principal Steve Ramsey, focused on reflection, and is further detailed here on his weekly blog post.
  • Session 4: This is where we came in. Chris Hanson (@tejashanson) and I built a session that focused on managing digital lives. (I should also mention that Chris Hanson is the latest addition to our iVengers team. He serves as the other Ed Tech at WHS… with myself).

Tell me more about Session 4

  • Background Info: So now that you are caught up on the day and staffing changes… I wanted to proceed and dive a little deeper into session 4. When we were originally tasked with 4 45 minute sessions on a topic of our choosing… we definitely knew we wanted to focus on Digital Citizenship… but that is truly an infinite topic. Chris has worked a lot with Common Sense Media at his last district and had a lot of success with it so he knew he wanted to touch on social media and cyberbullying. I had just read Ana Homayoun’s new book, “Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World” so I know I wanted to touch on executive functioning which broke down into digital organization and digital distraction. (Sidenote: I also did a recent review blogpost for Corwin on Ana’s book…which includes my scrapnotes… it is linked here).
  • Planning and Design: After we had our topics, we divided the session into 4 parts (Digital Distraction, Digital Organization, Social Media, and Cyberbullying). I took the first two topics and Chris took the latter two (which you will see in the slide deck). We also know that we had keep students engaged so having them watch a bunch of CommonSense videos or work in an iBook wasn’t going to cut it. I discovered from my last student professional development session on the topic of Note-Taking that students responded really well to research studies that we shared as well as research we gleaned from staff and students using google forms. Thus, we crafted a 10 question google form to send out to students. It was anonymous as we wanted honest feedback. We sent it out via student email accounts. I honestly thought we would get very few responses… but we ended up having over 300 responses in a few days. This is over 10% of our student body. With that data, we then began framing the presentation with the 4 topics, questions, answers, and then tips, tools, and best practices.
  • Delivery: We obviously hadn’t run through this deck with actual people before we were met with 150 Freshman so a few minor changes were made to the info on the fly. Mainly just building in student pulse checks (e.g. “raise your hands if you use paper for your to do lists” or “thumbs up, down, or to the sides if you agree with…”). We also had a few Think-Pair-Share topics that we embedded throughout. The Slide Deck below (and linked here) is the content we shared (including the results of the survey).

But Wait… There’s More…: One of my goals for the year was to develop and deliver more professional development opportunities for our parents. Thankfully… Chris Hanson had the patience and persistence to evaluate a few tools and work with the companies to make sure they were exactly what we wanted. We were looking for a tool that offered the ability to provide a live webinar but then also was able to be archived for later use. We also needed the ability to do screen sharing. Fortunately, Lifesize met the requirements and the rest is history. Lifesize also offers the ability to download the archived video (which was great because the first 10 minutes of our video needed to be cropped due to my not-so-witty banter about how to get it working). Chris was kind enough to crop the first 10:45 from the video and just post the webinar on our YouTube channel.

Warm Happy Thoughts: I could have left this part out… but I had to share! We had 25 parents join the online webinar and we had 15 follow-up emails from parents that had either watch the webinar or had missed but wanted the archived link. But there was one parent email that really brought a tear to my eye. She had emailed to share how grateful she was that she knew what was presented to her student that day and that she could use it as a springboard for discussion that evening. And she went on to say that her son had already texted her to see if he could download the tree app (which I had mentioned in the digital distraction section). Seriously people… I had tears of joy in my eyes. To think that you are creating content to positively impact students is one thing… to discover that the content you are creating and disseminating is actually resonating with students is beyond amazing!

I truly hope that these 1,000+ words have been helpful and perhaps even inspiring. If you do something like this already and/or if you end up remixing some of the ideas that I have shared in this post, I would be ever so grateful if you dropped me a line techchef4u@gmail.com.

Students Need PD too!

As you know, I am a firm believer that Students Need Professional Development too. My last few blog posts share some of the other initiatives I have been working on:

Thanks so much for reading. If you do something similar or have questions on this initiative (or any other), please reply in the comments and share ideas as well!


TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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