Category Archives: Digital Citizenship

ISTE 4: Teachers Who Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Ethical Use – Can We Try Different?

The Standard

ISTE for Teachers Standard 4 states that “teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices” (ISTE 2008). To me that seemed like quite a charge. It’s a huge responsibility for teachers, but it is one that is essential in the 21st century. Initially I was planning on investigating how primary teachers demonstrate to their students that they are ethical users of technology and I wondered how that positively impacted students? When I started researching and thinking about how teachers could be empowered to be responsible and ethical users of technology, I began to realize the vast quest that this standard entails. Like many of our modules in the Digital Education Leadership Program at Seattle Pacific University, I think that is the point of our assignment and our research. We are working toward a M.Ed. but we are also embodying the charge of the school of education at SPU, part of the mission is “to equip educators for service and leadership in schools and communities by developing their professional competence and character, to make a positive impact on learning.” I think that part of the reason we are focusing on standards that are very broad is to prepare us for conversations we will have with teachers and other stakeholders in the future as we become technology leaders in our schools and districts.

Try Different

Maybe we can’t just try harder, maybe we need to try something different?

Technology PD and Teachers

Recently I found myself in a PD for this week and while listening to the presentation and participating in the PD, I was thinking about the ethical use of technology by teachers and how it relates to how we teach digital citizenship to our students. I had a realization and thought that made sense to me. I don’t think that districts can expect teachers to be examples of ethical users of technology unless they are willing to invest in some kind of PD to encourage teachers to be aware of the lapses, blind spots and disconnects in the ethical use of technology. As users of technology, and teachers we are all over the place in our use and struggle to grasp content in any technology PD. Therefore, I think that slowing down and building in a focus on ethical use to every PD would aid in the process of teachers demonstrating this ethical use to students in the classroom. Are there standards that explain how to demonstrate ethical use in an elementary school? What does this instruction look like in primary versus intermediate grades? I mostly found resources for teaching digital citizenship to students, as expected. There is definitely room for improvement there in my own classroom as well as in my school. Using an LMS as a safe environment that mimics social media is one strategy (Hertz, M.B., 2011). Engaging videos like Follow the Digital Trail with Pause & Think are great for primary students. I guess in my research I came to realize that while teaching digital citizenship is necessary, I struggled to find how we can encourage and empower all teachers to teach it. They have to know that it matters! I think certain groups in every school could help to transmit that message with some slight modifications to common practice.

The Current System, Slightly Modified

Teachers who are motivated and fluent users of technology can be examples for students. It seems that most districts, based on my experience, as well as the experience of colleagues I’ve talked to in this program, expect librarians to be the main instructors responsible with informing students about the expectations for digital citizenship. Therefore, librarians would be the ones who receive PD related to digital citizenship from technology coaches or coordinators. In my building we have a technology team but most of the professional development is actually done by the administrator or the coaches and leadership team members. What if districts invested in these teams and encouraged them to demonstrate ethical use of technology to the rest of the staff? I imagine that doing so might help it to trickle down to students. In my building this seems like it would be a good start. Or, could a technology team at a building level provide the necessary PD yearly to encourage ethical use from teachers? I think it is possible but it would take a district level commitment that I have yet to see or hear about from others. Additionally I think that districts could continue to empower a larger number of students to be ethical users of technology by offering optional technology classes taught by a district level technology employee or a motivated teacher in order to focus on ethical use and integration of technology into learning.

This week I’m also reflecting on my own use of technology. What is my use like at school and at home? How are the two related? Where can I improve to be a better example? What are the primary reasons that I even use technology? I’ll continue to think about those questions and make it a goal to build in new habits when I identify a lapse or blind spot.

My notes from readings:

Other Questions and Conclusion

Is video PD a reliable way to help teachers remain current on ethical use of technology? Thinking about my role as a technology leader in my school I realize that my example in the ethical use of technology matters. I also think that administrators can influence a teacher’s ethical use of technology by becoming an example and referring to ethical use. Teachers are definitely busy, it is a challenge to fit in anything extra, but building in new habits can be a good investment for our own ethical use and examples for students. I think that teams in each school building could start off by being the example for how to do this to the general classroom teachers. Again, as I have said in past posts, I’m really just scratching the surface for ISTE 4. 

A Promising Resource

One resource that I came across really seemed say a lot that resonated with what I know and have learned about technology through my own use and through PD was about preparing teachers for technology integration. I don’t know that it is entirely relevant to this post on ethical use and how teacher promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility, but it is a resource I will likely return to later. The article by Jacobson, Clifford and Friesen makes me excited to see how new teachers will be trained to integrate technology into their teaching, and perhaps with an increased focus in the university, these new teachers will be prime examples of digital citizenship for their students. However, in the meantime this paragraph might fit where we are currently at, and hopefully it motivates reluctant adopters to give it a try:

“Learning and teaching with technology is hard, it can be overwhelming, and the field is always changing. The way in which preservice teachers reacted to the ICT Program of Studies and building web pages is much like the reaction of many class room teachers and faculty members when they grapple with how to integrate technology and the curriculum. It is also the way that experienced technology users venture into an area that is unfamiliar to them. Because the field is changing so quickly, everyone is in some sense a beginner. And everyone has exactly the same starting place where they are, at the moment. While where you are will change with experience and the acquisition of skills and knowledge, there will always be new skills, new knowledge, and new starting places for us all (Jacobson, Clifford, & Friesen, 2002).

I think this is an attitude we should all strive to have in our approach to technology, ethical use and the integration of technology into our classrooms.


Follow the Digital Trail. (n.d.). [Clip]. Retrieved from

Hertz, M. B. (2011, October 12). Teaching digital citizenship in the elementary classroom [Blog]. Retrieved from

Jacobson, M., Clifford, P., & Friesen, S. (2002). Preparing teachers for technology integration: Creating a culture of inquiry in the context of use. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 2(3). Retrieved from

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital edge. Education Digest, 77(8), 14–17. Retrieved from

Ribble, M., & Northern Miller, T. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137–145. Retrieved from

Seattle Pacific University School of Education. (2017). Retrieved from

Simsek, E., & Simsek, A. (2013). New literacies for digital citizenship. Contemporary Education Technology, 4(2), 126–137. Retrieved from

Venosdale, K. (2012). Try Different [Digital Print]. Retrieved from 

Responsible Use Policies

My original question was “How do we raise awareness in teachers about their roles and responsibilities regarding legal and ethical behavior?”  I still think it’s important but I’m not finding any good resources regarding teaching teachers about digital citizenship as professionals, it’s pretty much all about how to teach their students.

I shifted my focus toward developing Responsible Use Policies because I believe the process of developing a more positive, forward thinking policy will help us change the conversation about digital citizenship and legal and ethical behavior among teachers as well as students. It’s not going to be enough to just tell people what to do. We have to model ongoing conversations about digital citizenship and create cultures in our schools that are supportive enough that we can call each other on inappropriate digital behavior without it feeling like we are accusing or policing.

Our schools have to be learning environments where we can make and fix mistakes in a safe place and there will be a lot of learning that will need to happen. It’s not just our students generation that sees the content they find online as free and reusable. Teachers often use content without attribution, I’ve done it myself. The trick, i think, will be finding a balance and making it easier for teachers to access resources when they have questions about privacy policies on websites, fair use and copyright, and have had the chance to wrestle with and talk to their peers about ethical digital issues.   

House Bill 6273, which was recently signed into law in Washington State, requires a broad group of stakeholders (teachérs, administrators, parents, and community members) to meet regularly to review digital citizenship policies. Considering how quickly technology changes, it will make our policy more responsive. I’ve heard that WASDA is working on a template for Responsible Use Policies for districts. We should be able to use that but if it isn’t ready we will be able to use the work that Northshore School District has done to develop theirs. The ultimate goal is to shift the focus away from what we don’t want staff and students to do with technology to what we do want them to do with it. It will shift the conversation away from punishment to educating people, which is ultimately our goal. Eventually, I’d like to figure out how to translate these documents into kid friendly language (AUPs​ ​in​ ​kid​ ​Friendly​ ​Language​ ​​  ) as well so that teachers can use them with their younger students to teach them about their digital rights and responsibilities.


AUPs in kid Friendly Language

Student Centered Acceptable Use Policy

House Bill 6273


EDTC 6103 – ISTE Teaching Standard 4 – Meet the Digital Divide then make them Digital Citizens


ISTE Teaching Standard 4 – Meet the Digital Divide then make them Digital Citizens. In my research I was guided by Teacher Standard Four: 

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 1.42.22 PM4 b. Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.

Moreover, Teaching Standard 4c. Promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information.

I am torn between these two questions because I feel like they are both important.  But I think that they do connect with each other.  The first step is to get all students access to the internet and fast accessible internet all the time to be successful.  The next step that connects with my second question has to do with once they are connected to the internet how then do we ensure that the students are using that freedom correctly.  By correctly I mean that they are treating each other with respect and kindness on and off the internet.

The question I asked myself first was with many students who could not access materials from home and how that truly debilitates them for school.  How do we stay equitable for all students no matter what they have access to at home (i.e. computer, smartphone, data, wifi, television)?

This article by The Atlantic and written by Terrance Ross in 2015 examines the data behind accessibility.  As of 2006, the US had 99% of students on the internet but as we all know connectivity is different depending on where you are and what you are trying to get finished.  A quick fast speed internet connection can allow for curiosity and creativity to fly but the slow stagnant internet will hinder exploration and accessibility.  This article includes several studies (see charts below) around different districts and how they have tried to help students get connected.  It even mentions Washington’s Kent School District and how it has tried hard to reach out to the growing refugee community to ensure they have the internet. The article goes on to state that “technology morphs from being a luxury to being a necessity, the chasm between the performance of low-income students and their more affluent peers is coming under even greater scrutiny. Advocates say the tech movement is further exacerbating the already-large achievement gap; in education circles, this phenomenon is dubbed the “connectivity gap” or the “digital divide” (Ross, 2015).  

How can we model for our student the proper way to act online with authentic and real-life situations without stepping out of the boundaries of curriculum and school related materials?


New York City School Library System. (2012, April 4). Citizenship in the Digital Age Sample Lesson Plans for Grades 1-12 [Scholarly project]. In Citizenship in the Digital Age. Retrieved May 17, 2017, from


Ribble, M. & Miller, T.N. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), pp. 137-145.
Ross, T. F. (2015, March 13). When Students Can’t Go Online. Retrieved May 17, 2017, from

Advocating for Students: Responding to Parents’ Negative Feelings About Technology Use in School

In responding to the concerns of parents who have negative feelings about an increase in technology use at school, my approach would be one of advocacy for students - and, really, the combined interest of teachers and parents to provide the best learning environment for the children they care about. One

Individual Project: The Literary Essay as an Online Review

My individual project is the last blog post of this quarter in the Seattle Pacific University Digital Education Leadership M.Ed. program. In this post I will reflect on the process of backward planning using the understanding by design (UbD) format and reflect on what facets of understanding my students may display at the end my set of lessons. Most of what I write will be speculative since I am currently in the middle of teaching this unit and have not yet gotten to the focus lessons highlighted in the unit plan.

The UbD lesson format is time consuming when considering planning an entire unit, or even lessons in a unit. I find the work to be valuable based on how I anticipate my teaching will go when I deliver the lessons however, I found that adapting the curriculum to align with the UbD format is more time consuming that my typical planning. However, I do not want to discount the fact that planning is a process that is accelerated with additional practice, especially when adopting a new format or teaching a new unit. For me this unit is completely new, and I haven’t practiced the UbD format since my undergraduate degree, so the format could in fact be one that I begin to use again with additional practice. Also, I anticipate if I was planning one lesson in place of part of a unit it would require slightly less time. This project did offer me an excellent way to integrate digital citizenship instruction into a unit that otherwise has very little technology integration by asking students to publish final essays in a blog format and asking them to respond to each other’s work via online comments. I anticipate that both of those modifications will provide additional engagement for students in a unit that they appear to enjoy even without technology integration.
The six facets of understanding are a description from Wiggins and McTighe (2005) about what it means for students to truly understand. I will attempt to reflect on how my students will understand this content and unit based on the UbD formatting of the lessons. At the end of this unit I anticipate that my students will be able to demonstrate all of the facets of understanding because of the highly engaging content and the level of differentiation that can happen when each students is writing about a book they have chosen to read.

Students will be able to explain content and in explaining themes within a text, or character traits shared across texts, they will apply that knowledge to life and to real people which will allow them to interpret the actions of individuals.

Additionally after this unit students will become more empathetic because they will understand characters and people are multidimensional, they are not just one way. This understanding will allow students to see the big picture within a text, to understand the theme, or grasp what the author is trying to teach throughout the text. Finally students will relate the learning back to their own lives. They will wonder how they themselves are like characters in their books, or they will realize that they cannot fully understand a theme or character because they themselves do not have the life experiences necessary to understand in the way that others would.

Then in coming to that understanding I hope again that students would feel empathy and seek out different perspectives or feedback on their own thinking in order to better help them understand people and life.

The Literary Essay as an Online Review by James Bettis

Link to new window: 

What is Redefinition?

I’m not entirely sure I find the SAMR model as useful as I used to. I used it at first with teachers because it seemed simple to grasp and easy to start with. Unfortunately, that simplicity leaves many things open to interpretation that has made it more of a challenge for teachers who get hung up on the details of the differences between augmentation, modification and redefinition. I also personally believe, no personal research to back up this one yet, that audience is a vital piece of what truly redefines a student’s learning experience and it’s not clearly defined in the SAMR model.

Technology allows our students the opportunity to write, collaborate, create and publish for much bigger audiences than their teacher or class. Part of the redefinition process needs to be teaching our students the skills of putting their thinking out to the universe is safe, productive, meaningful ways. They need to learn to take criticism and feedback from complete strangers on the web and use what’s helpful, respond with dignity, or ignore it and move on. We need to give them the opportunities to share their passions, interests and expertise with others without giving away their privacy or sacrificing their digital reputation. And most of all, as good citizens, we want them to contribute to the world in positive ways, from being thoughtful before they post in social media to contributing to the larger bank of knowledge in their chosen area of expertise someday. It all starts with the experiences they have in the classroom.

We can’t do any of that without also changing the expectation of redefinition so that they are learning skills transfer to their lives outside the classroom.  We should want our students to be asking questions that are too big or complicated to answer alone, or with a simple Google search,  and need collaboration with others or an expert to help answer. We want students thinking carefully, and editing often, because they know their work will be seen, and possibly commented on, by people outside their peer group. We should want them using multiple tools to collect data, research for answers, create models and presentations and to share their learning with others.

True redefinition is not about technology at all. Its about changing our teaching practices to give agency to students to make their own meaning and share it with others. The technology just broadens the playing field and gives them more opportunities and more resources to do the learning with.

My lesson plan was about teaching my teachers about what SAMR means and begin to nudge their thinking towards new ways they can think about the technology in their classroom. As a first step, this lesson wasn’t a bad place to start. It gave them some examples to work with and some time to start making meaning of it in the context of their classroom. I can’t help but think that I am not really modeling redefinition by the way I’m teaching the SAMR model though. A “sit and get” no matter how much they get up and move around, is really not redefining this type of professional development. I will be following up this spring with the teachers to see where they might need help getting started so I still don’t have much feedback about how effective this lesson was yet but I am going to try to rethink how we are offering this PD and see if there are some ways I can start practicing what I preach a bit more!

Here’s a link to the whole lesson:

Meaningful connections between digital citizenship and math education (EDTC 6101, Digital readiness project)

It stretches my thinking to imagine how Ribble’s (2013) nine elements of digital citizenship can be meaningfully incorporated into math education. Digital citizenship is a concept that relates respecting, educating, and protecting yourself and others while in an online world through nine elements: digital etiquette, digital access, digital law, digital communication, digital literacy, digital commerce, digital rights and responsibility, digital safety, and digital health and welfare. Technology is a large part of our culture and I believe that being a thoughtful digital citizen is as important as being a thoughtful citizen of the physical world, so I think it is important to teach digital citizenship where applicable. In my day to day life, digital citizenship feels like a highly relevant and core skill. However, during my math classes as an undergrad, I don’t feel like digital citizenship was ever addressed.

Pre-interview preparation

Since I was struggling to think of ways in which digital citizenship could be taught within a math class, I wanted to use the interview portion of EDU 6101’s Digital Readiness Project as a way to uncover some of the inherent connections. Therefore, I developed a list of questions based on the ways I thought technology could intersect with math education – including topics like gender-related differences in calculator/math software use, and accepting students as friends on Facebook – but I left the interview open enough to follow unexpected connections. For this project I interviewed math professor Dr. James Lambers of University of Southern Mississippi.

Post-interview infographic

This infographic represents some general information about technology and math education. What I chose to include was based on my interview with Dr. Lambers.


Post-interview reflection

Upon reflecting about the interview, one connection between digital citizenship and math education stood out to me as the most meaningful, and that is the connection to digital law with digitally accessible homework solutions. The connection is possibly more in spirit than technically an issue of copyright law, but the issue of students using digital homework solutions is morally and ethically similar to the problem of stealing content since both are an issue of presenting unoriginal work as your own.

As math educators, we want students to take ownership of their learning, and digitally obtained homework solutions via resources like Wolfram Alpha, Chegg, or past students can exasperate the problem of students working to “get the grade” instead of working to learn. I don’t mean to say that using solutions is always negative for the learning process – it’s how solutions are used that makes the difference. I’m specifically referring to when students copy solutions without understanding what they’re copying, and this is the kind of behavior we want to prevent. I’m envisioning a connection where helping students develop their moral and ethical thinking for citing sources of digitally or otherwise obtained solutions could promote a shift from focusing on “getting the answer” to being responsible for the learning process.

James (2014) gives us some insight that may be useful for understanding students’ moral and ethical considerations regarding instructor-developed homework problems and solutions. Her research suggests that knowing the content creator can increase young peoples’ moral and ethical sensitivity (p. 63), and one study showed that students were more likely to use digital content without permission as opposed to physical content (p. 67). This makes me wonder if students may be more likely to respect a teacher’s request to not distribute solutions simply because the students know the teacher, and if the students may be more likely to not distribute physical handouts of solutions, as opposed to electronic solutions. Furthermore, her work suggests that young people who have created content within a community feel more responsibility towards that community and are more likely to employ moral and ethical considerations. This makes me wonder if developing a sense of community in a math class where students are also content creators could support their moral and ethical thinking about copying and distributing homework solutions.

Beyond the direct parallels made between James’ work and math education, these questions also got me asking broader questions about using solutions: How can we utilize James’ research to help us teach moral and ethical use? How are students thinking about the use of digital homework solutions? Are they making consequence-based decisions or employing moral and ethical thinking? When do they employ moral and ethical thinking? What activities increase the moral and ethical thinking of math students? Do they have a free-for-all mindset regarding solutions (p. 56)? These questions are very interesting to me and could inform possible directions for future dissertation work.



James, C., & Jenkins, H. (2014). Disconnected: Youth, new media, and the ethics gap. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lyublinskaya, I., & Tournaki, N. (2011). The effect of teaching and learning with Texas Instruments handheld devices on student achievement in algebra. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching30(1), 5-35. Retrieved from

Munger, G. F., & Loyd, B. H. (1989). Gender and attitudes toward computers and calculators: Their relationship to math performance. Journal of Educational Computing Research5(2), 167-177.

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). (2016). Mathematics literacy: Gender. Retrieved from

Ribble, M., & Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of asynchronous learning networks, 17(1), 137-145. Retrieved from

Svadilfari, Sean. (2008). Homework. Retrieved from

Digital Readiness Project

The Digital Readiness of a Suburban Seattle Area Elementary School

I was able to interview my principal about the state of technology in our elementary school and more specifically how we are teaching digital citizenship. As a district we’ve had some training in regard to digital citizenship that was distributed to schools through teacher leaders. I led that training about two years ago. However, staff turnover, the adoption of new curriculum, plus school and district professional development in other areas have made it difficult to sustain, or even return to the progress that was initially made in our approach to digital citizenship after the first training. I see this interview with my administrator as a way to get us thinking about this need as a school. We can evaluate where we are currently and figure out the next steps moving forward in order to focus on the digital citizenship needs of our students. Here are the questions that I asked my administrator during the interview.

Digital Access

  1. Do all students in our school have equal access to technology? If so, how do we define equal access?
  • How does our school account for students who do not have access to technology at home?
  • Do staff and students use our BYOD network?

Digital Communication

2. Are students taught appropriate ways to communicate using technology?

  • Do you think that technology can allow for a deeper understanding in learning?
  • Have you seen any evidence of technology being used that way in classrooms?

Digital Literacy

3. Is teaching students to use different technology tools in the classroom something that is practiced in our school?

  • Is appropriate as well as inappropriate use taught and discussed?
  • Is technology use monitored in a similar way by teachers?

Digital Etiquette

Our district requires Staff and Students to follow an administrative procedure that makes up the responsible use procedure for technology in our district.

The RUP Covers: Rules, guidelines and personal recommendations for the acceptable use of technology within the district. Some topics covered include responsible use, digital citizenship, COPPA and terms and conditions of internet tools, responsible use by students staff and guests, network privacy, internet safety, use of social media personally and professionally, copyright and ownership of work as well as unacceptable use and preventative measures.

4. Are students and teachers aware of the administrative policy and the technology RUP that has been adopted by the school district?

5. What are some ways that teachers model appropriate use of technology?

  • Do they model appropriate use of social media? How so?

Digital Law

6. Do staff and students practice acceptable use of digital resources?

  • Do you think there are any issues with copyright violations or plagiarism?

Digital Security

7. Are students taught to protect their technology and their personal information when using technology?

The questions covered a broad range of topics. I’d like to focus in on a few and share some thoughts for what we can do moving forward. The answers to the first three questions show that there is a vast range in the amount of technology that students use in the classroom in our school as well as a range in how technology is used by teachers. After debriefing my interview with my administrator we decided that there are three areas of focus for our school going forward.

The first is improved digital access at school. Our school has a number of technology resources available. It is not a 1:1 school, however we do have a 3:1 ratio of students per device and our district is rolling out a BYOD network in order to allow students to use personal devices which will allow us to achieve closer to a 1:1 ratio in many classes. In order to improve access teachers need to be made aware of the capabilities of our network and the purpose of BYOD in improving access. Additionally my principal identified the need to develop a scope and sequence for technology instruction K-5 in our school. That way each classroom teacher and the librarian, who integrates technology instruction into her instruction across grade levels, would have some guidelines identifying what are the skills we are responsibly for teaching across grade levels to develop the digital literacy of students over their time in elementary school. We also discussed the idea of focusing on teaching appropriate use of social media in upper grades, or possibly incorporating social media into the classroom environment so students can understand the powerful way we can collaborate on a global scale through social media. This would also give students a firm foundation for using social media personally as they begin to create accounts, usually this seems to happen as early as upper elementary level for many students.

Another commitment our school will make to technology instruction is providing some guidelines for the entire staff on best practices for monitoring technology use in classrooms. This could be incorporated into the K-5 digital literacy scope and sequence as well as reviewed yearly to provide new staff members with a refresher on how to best monitor student use as well as how to incorporate technology into instruction. Additionally this would allow new staff members to connect with grade level partners who could support the integration of technology into instruction at the beginning of the year.

We also discussed the idea of our school leadership team developing a school wide presentation for teachers to show to students at the beginning of every school year that outlines the expectations for the use of technology during the school year. Creating this presentation would strengthen our commitment to instruction with technology across grade levels as well as help students to understand the appropriate use of technology at and away from school. I think that this presentation could even lead to further discussions around moral and ethical use which seems to be an area of need for many technology users, especially youth. Another idea we discussed was having our district technology leader provide some training at a PTA meeting each year to help parents understand how students may be using social media and some things that they can do to help guide their students to use social media responsibly.

These are the areas of focus for our school in regard to digital readiness and digital citizenship. From my discussions with my principal as well as my interaction with staff members as a technology teacher leader in my school these next steps seems to constitute a reasonable plan to support our staff and students in moving forward for the next 1-2 years. Then we would be able to consider and develop a more robust integration of digital citizenship into each classroom so that all students would leave our elementary school with a firm foundation in digital citizenship to help them to be engaged ethical technology users in the larger society.

A Reflection on Peer Coaching

Image result for ripple effect

This past quarter of the DEL program has been both challenging and eye-opening. A lot of my former ideas about working in a coaching role have been challenged and some have been validated. Most formal, professional coaching is carried out by qualified people who work with clients to improve their effectiveness and performance, and help them achieve their full potential (Manktelow, et al). The “clients” may be a group of high school athletes or peers in the workplace. My coaching experience in sports has provided an interesting contrast with coaching in my teaching profession. While coaching peers at work is just as important as coaching in sport, they require a different approach. Sports coaches mentor their athletes, using technical skills, experience, and a “telling” style of direction. By contrast, questioning and reflection are often more important in workplace coaching. I went into this role as an educational technology leader thinking I needed to be the expert and have all of the answers, which is what is required of me as a soccer coach. What I’ve learned is that a peer coach needs to be a good listener, ask the right questions, and support the good work that is already being done. We need to assist our coachees in arriving at the solution themselves, allowing them to take ownership and initiative for their own learning. The great commonality between my two coaching positions, and perhaps the most important element, however, is building trust. Athletes and workplace professionals alike need to feel a sense of trust and respect in order to grow and reach their full potential.

The roles I played in coaching my partner were very supportive and collaborative in nature. I mainly helped my colleague by providing just-in-time training and resources and coplanning learning activities. (Foltos, 2013) I have been peer coaching my recently hired school librarian in developing a book trailer & review project for grades 5-6 that incorporates 21st century skills. We have used and will use a variety of tech integration tools to enhance the lesson plan already in place, but my main goal has been to support the project by establishing an authentic audience for the presentation of student work. Here are some examples of how I demonstrated the above coaching roles:

  • Examples of other book reviews are shared with students via YouTube videos and an assortment of former student files saved on a hard drive. Teacher librarian presented examples in a teacher-led, whole group session. I suggested using a tool to compile all of these examples into one place and provide students with access so they could refer back to them later. My collaborating partner and I had an after school session to learn about Symbaloo, and I supported her in created the following resource for her students:
  • In addition to the district catalog, our librarian uses Follett Destiny Quest to assist students in the upper elementary grades to search for books. Destiny Quest is a student-friendly searching interface that is designed for today’s digital students. My coaching partner ran into time constraints with teaching students to use Destiny Quest effectively when she only sees classes for 30 minutes each week. We worked together to create a how-to video for teachers so they could support students in the classroom with using this resource. She used Screencastify Lite to create the screencast and then posted it on our staff Google Classroom.
  • A key learning target for this lesson is to cite sources and respect intellectual property. These students have previously had classroom discussions regarding copyright, but the extent of which is unknown. We spent a fair amount of time exploring Common Sense Education together, and with my guidance, selected the following lessons to teach regarding 21st century copyright issues:
  • While one of the intentions of Destiny Quest is to provide social networking, it is limited to only reaching others who use it. In our school, only 4-6 graders utilize that resource, and not consistently. I wanted to help my coaching partner find a way to make a greater impact with her students’ work by sharing book reviews with anyone who enters the library. Our district purchased a subscription to WeVideo; I attended a breakout session at a tech leader training as well as EdCamp Edmonds on using WeVideo, which enabled me to recommend this resource and give an entry level training with my collaborative partner. She can use WeVideo to have students create book trailers and reviews.We then worked to create an even more authentic audience by planning to send the book trailers to classrooms across the country and meeting for a Google Hangout to discuss reviews and recommendations with other students. I am working with my network of #edtech leaders to establish contacts for my coaching partner’s classes.

The coaching relationship was friendly, personalized, and manageable so that it felt like a collaborative partnership, rather than me telling her what she should do. We learned so much from each other, it wasn’t just a one-way street. One of the ways to measure the success of this coaching experience is by measuring student performance. By looking at student success in completing the activities and especially the student engagement, we can determine how effective this process was. Although the project is still underway, we can already see an increase in engagement. The students have expressed an interest in continuing with these types of real-world projects that solve relevant problems.

Another thing to consider as I wrap up the current coaching plan is what comes next. I can sit down with my administrators to revisit and reflect on the coaching plan, discuss what worked and what can be improved. What I’d really like to see as a result of this experience is a sort of ripple effect. An added bonus to this peer coaching relationship is that my partner is in a new role as a library and technology specialist, which places her in a position where she is expected to support and train classroom teachers in using new equipment and digital resources. My hope is that she can take what we’ve done together and carry it into her own experiences working with peers. I am confident that she will continue to pay it forward as she facilitates upcoming technology trainings.



Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Johnson, S. M., & Rigby, B. (2012). Peer coaching guidelines. Why Dev. Retrieved from

Manktelow, J., Jackson, K., Edwards, S., Eyre, E., Cook, L., & Bhanu, K. (n.d.). What is coaching?: How to be an effective coach. Retrieved from