Teach Vocabulary, Keyboarding, and Digital Citizenship with Technology.

Digital CitizenshipFor most schools, technology is employed strategically to achieve learning. It’s not about teaching software or technology skills. At its core, it means using technology to teach education fundamentals such as:

  • Vocabulary
  • Keyboarding
  • Digital citizenship

These used to be taught in isolation, but not anymore. Now they are blended into all subjects just like ingredients in a cake. The result is college or career for the 21st-century student. Let me explain.

Vocabulary.
Common Core requires that:

Students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts. This can be done effectively by spiraling like content in increasingly complex texts.

Does that sound difficult? Think back to how you conquered vocabulary. As an adult, you rarely meet words you can’t understand and, if you do, you decode them by analyzing prefixes, suffixes, roots, and context. Also, e-dictionaries are available on all digital devices. Teach your students to do the same:

  • First: try to decode the word using affixes, root, context.
  • Second: research meaning.

You might think that will grind the academic process to a halt, but in age-appropriate texts there are likely less than five unknown words per page. What you don’t want to do is have students write down words for later investigation. That becomes a chore, cerebral excitement leeched like heat to a night desert sky. Much better to stop, decode, and move on.

Keyboarding.
For years, I taught keyboarding as a separate activity. We warmed up class with 10-15 minutes of keyboarding augmented by 45 minutes a week of keyboard homework. I’ve revised my thinking. Since keyboarding benefits all classes, I expect all teachers–including the librarian–to be my partners in this effort. I go into classrooms and show students the broad strokes of keyboarding posture, habits, and the skills that will enable them to type fast and accurately enough to eventually–maybe third or fourth grade–use the keyboard without slowing down their thinking. That’s a big deal and worth repeating–

To be organic, students must be able to type, without thinking of their fingers, fast enough that they keep up with their thoughts.

That’s about 25 words per minute. Sure, we think fast, but ruminating over a class question, essay, or report is much slower. About 25-35 words per minute suffices.

Digital Citizenship.
It’s frightening how much time students spend in an online world they consider safe, following links like blind streets to places most parent wouldn’t take their child. Just as students have learned how to survive in a physical community of strangers, they must now learn to do the same in a digital neighborhood. Parents and teachers can’t be everywhere and hiding children from danger doesn’t teach them survival skills, so we must teach them how to live in this wild new online world.

Likely, most kindergartners arrive to your classroom familiar with parent smartphones and iPad apps. That means you start by discussing the ‘digital neighborhood’, ‘stranger danger’, and ‘personal privacy.’ Do this every time students use the internet. Sure, it’ll take longer to get to Starfall Math, but students must know the right way to use online sites. As with keyboarding, include other teachers and parents as your partners. Let them know what you’ve taught about digital citizenship and ask them to reinforce it.

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor and author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, and K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.