California Educator

August/September 2019

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Page 19 of 68

Fo r e x a m p l e , m o s t s tu d e n t s k n o w how connect to Wi-Fi, but seldom know how it actually works. What if, instead of suppre ssin g ph on e s, we t ea ch stu- dents the rules that govern networks, h o w i n f o r m a t i o n f l o w s , w h o g e t s t o see it, and who owns it? Once students k n o w a n d u n d e r s t a n d t h e s e t h i n g s , they are better prepared to handle the responsibility that comes with owning and operating a device. I ' v e s e e n s t u d e n t s a s e a r l y a s third-graders able to do this, and yet the bag policy presupposes that students are unable to be responsible. That sounds to me like giving up on something that should be taught. If we want our students to become critical thinkers, it should be fundamental that they are able to ana- lyze the user term agreement of any app to see what they are getting into. I am humbled by how teenagers can use and master Instagram and Snapchat or whatever new app appears. They can create innovative, funny and thoughtful original content and remix it to share with those on their networks. They can also create the crass, the vulgar and the obscene if they are not taught properly. Educator training and professional development that directly makes an impact on the student should be at the heart of this issue. If the 21st century classroom requires that students be knowledgeable on the use of technology, so should the adults that teach them. e brief benefits of a phone-free classroom are eas- ily achieved with the bag policy, but the opportunity to teach and prepare students to be responsible adults who can handle a device will be completely missed. Fernando J. Figueroa teaches at Abbott Middle School in San Mateo and is a member of the San Mateo Elementary Teachers Association. 21st Century Digital Etiquette Let's truly teach students how to be responsible digital citizens By Fernando J. Figueroa T H I S Y E A R , San Mateo High School will imple- ment a plan that will make students place their phones into a specially designed bag that can only be opened with a specific magnet, with the goal of creating a better learning environment. At a glance, this is a great idea. By muting these offensive devices, everyone can enjoy the shared space. is is something that every educator strives for: An environment free of interruptions allows the student to learn attentively from the teacher. If we want to give our students every opportunity to suc- ceed, it starts with providing an environment that is conducive to learning. But this is also so 20th century thinking. As much as these bags "solve" the problem of the distracted student, they only treat the symptom. There are only a few school districts in the Bay Area that effectively tackle digital citizenship and etiquette. Most districts point at how they use Com- mon Sense Media or Google Applied Digital Skills online courses as solutions and include them in their technology plans. Often there is no follow-up or data as to how effective these initiatives are. In my experience, despite all the hype that tech companies in our region and communities put out, very little is explicitly taught in our schools about digital citizenship and etiquette. Students are often under the impression that these topics are only addressed in "computer class." Many schools tend to show the documentary Screenagers to start a conversation on device use. This usually lasts a few weeks, with little or no follow-through or efforts to sustain the conversation. Or maybe a school addresses digital etiquette during "code day." A policy of placing phones in bags sends the message that students cannot be trusted and says a lot about how backward pedagogical practices are. On this topic, schools cannot talk at students, but should rather talk with and teach students. It should be a two-way conversation and not a top-down policy. e con- versation should be about what is acceptable device use and management. Students and adults must know the basic science and engineering of the devices that they use. Hiding phones in bags does not do that. "Placing phones in bags sends the message that students cannot be trusted and says a lot about how backward pedagogical practices are." 17 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 019 S Y O U R V O I C E

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