Digital Respect, Education, and Safety in the Lower School

Emily Woodward is our Lower School Library Media Specialist
Emily Woodward is our Lower School Library Media Specialist

Young children are taught to look both ways before crossing the street, and teens are given driving lessons before getting behind the wheel of a car. We love our children and want to keep them safe. In this time of emerging technology, this includes instruction on how to navigate an increasingly complex online world.

A portion of the Library/Technology curriculum in the Lower School is focused on the development of “digital citizenship.” According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), this term encompasses respect, education, and protection (safety) around devices and while online. In the Lower School here at Baldwin we teach students from PreK – Grade 5 how to interact with technology, as well as with other people while online. With a solid understanding of what it means to be a digital citizen, our girls are better equipped to manage the information and choices that they will encounter online.

For our youngest students in PreK and Kindergarten, this starts with learning how to care for technology and how to use iPads responsibly. They interact with apps and manipulate different types of media in a safe and controlled environment. As their horizons begin to expand, students in Grades 1-2 are taught strategies for navigating the Internet safely, including how to identify and access safe websites, what to do if something unexpected happens, and why we need to protect our private information. They also visit the Library webpage and are introduced to a social media aspect of the Library catalog. Here in a safe, private environment students learn that our Baldwin Core Values also apply online as well.

This focus continues in Grade 3, where the primary message is that being responsible is important online, just like at home or school. The term “cyberbully” is introduced and we discuss how we need not only to be kind to others, but also to speak up if we observe any negative behavior. In Grade 4, one area of concentration is how to take advantage of the many resources available online and includes copyright and ownership of digital content. Here students learn how to appropriately credit creators of images and other materials.

By the time they reach Grade 5, students are able to incorporate each of these previously taught skills and ideas and to think more deeply about their role as digital citizens. They create a “Digital Citizen’s Pledge” to display in the Lower School hallway, detailing appropriate behaviors online. We also discuss our digital footprints and the fact that once something goes online other people can see it and send it out. In preparation for their future studies, we review how to tell whether or not a website is authoritative and stage a mock trial to determine whether the information provided on a website is of sufficiently good quality.

As a community member of Baldwin, you might be asking yourself how you can find out more information about this topic. Two resources that I’ve found particularly helpful are:

  • Common Sense Media , which offers digital advice as well as book and movie reviews, and
  • ISTE, which provides information and strategies for learning more about technology and online tools.

In closing I would like to quote from the article “Essential Elements of Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship is a complex topic with many facets. We need to make sure we help students understand the issues that might occur online while also stressing the positive impact of technology. As many educators know, most students want to do the right thing — and will, if they know what that is. Let’s help them do great things with technology while avoiding the pitfalls.  

Celebrating The Baldwin Libraries

It has been an exciting April as the Baldwin Libraries celebrated National Library Week and National Poetry Month.

By Lisa López-Carickhoff

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In the Lower School, Linda Mullen and Shelly Lucia led Grade IV in creating “step riddle books.” And Grade III students had great fun “fiddling with the riddles.” Using the collection of over 12,000 books, Grade IV and V students, as well as some Grade IX and X girls, created “book spine poems.” Stop by the bulletin board outside the Learning Commons to see their work or come browse the shelves to create your own! Grade II students created some gorgeous “color poems,” inspired by Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill and Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman.

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In the Anne Frank Library, Grade V students got a sneak-peek at “life in the Library” for Middle School students. During their visit to the School House, they used iPads to listen to book talk podcasts created by Grade VI students. And the Anne Frank Library’s “Brain Bender” contest had MS and US students in a frenzy! Students worked hard to match familiar faces from the faculty, staff, and administration with their favorite book picks – US winner Sarah Douglas and MS winner Sara Syed each received a Barnes and Noble gift card. The staff also got into the competitive spirit – College Counselor Naté Hall won the staff prize.

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Finally, the National Library Week Breakfast event brought faculty and staff together for special treats and a look at the resources in both the Lower School Learning Commons and the Anne Frank Library.

Information Literacy

New Kindles, iPads, flip cameras and more!

Baldwin’s librarians are here to help students, faculty and staff navigate the information highway and bring creative ideas to life using technology. The school uses Kindles, iPads, podcasts and advanced library catalog systems to integrate technology into academia.

We’re all experiencing information overload as a result of all the technological tools at our disposal – in addition to traditional forms of media and research. Baldwin’s librarians teach students how to select, evaluate and synthesize information – efficiently and effectively.

One of the library’s goals is to provide tools that prepare Baldwin’s oldest students to write research papers that meet expectations of undergraduate collegiate programs, while focusing on academic integrity. It’s paramount that students learn to use information carefully to create new ideas, while giving credit to the origin of the information.

In addition to their work with students, Baldwin’s librarians are helping faculty integrate technology into the classroom through “edumentary” projects – a Baldwin term for education documentaries – and will run a podcasting workshop during the school’s faculty in-service day.

The definition of ‘library’ has shifted. The library now functions as a larger umbrella of information services – librarians are no longer gatekeepers to research and data, they are guides. Students can retrieve information from anywhere, but librarians are here to help them get the best quality information.

“Noodle tools” – used at the collegiate level – is a software program the librarians have employed to help students with the research process, including note taking, outlining, and writing a paper with proper MLA citations. The software also provides a platform to help teachers and students connect and keep the project on track. Just as important as learning to locate and use the right information is learning to present and share that information. The library staff has introduced tools like PowerPoint, Prezi, video and podcasts to help students communicate their ideas and research.

So what’s on the horizon for the library? Integrating technology with academic pursuits will continue to be a focus.

  • Kindles are now available at the library, allowing library staff to respond immediately when they see that “spark” or connection a student has to a particular author, topic or book.
  • Kindles will be a centerpiece of the Middle School Book Club, Books & Bytes, which is working toward being able to share their literature discussions with the greater community through video chat services like Skype.
  • Virtual discussions on literature and research topics will continue through the library’s new Destiny Quest library catalog, which has a built-in, secure social networking component.
  • Finally, Grade I students will have the opportunity to leverage iPad apps to complement the reading fundamentals curriculum through a new pilot program.

The Baldwin community shares the enthusiasm of the school’s library staff, and agrees the school’s compass is pointing in the right direction when it comes to navigating the information highway.

Leave a comment to tell us how you’re integrating technology into learning – whether in the classroom or at home.

– Library Staff: Tim Blankenhorn, Kelly Grimmett, Michele Lucia, Linda Mullen and Gail Pratzon

BrainPOP – Say What?!

The Library has recently subscribed to BrainPOP for students in Grades III-XII and BrainPOP, Jr. for students in Grades K-III.

BrainPOP is an educational website with hundreds of short Flash-based movies covering the subjects of mathematics, technology, health, science, social studies, arts and music, and English.  The range of topics is huge and teachers are just about guaranteed to find something they can use in the classroom.

In addition to the animations, which are entertaining as well as instructive, there are also lesson plans, educational games and an educators’ blog.

– Linda Mullen, lower school technology coordinator