Digital Citizenship: An Analogy for Students

In my role as an Instructional Consultant, I work with students from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12.  With this wide range of ages, I wanted to be able to use an analogy with students in regards to digital citizenship that would make sense.  After our #DCMOOC class on Tuesday evening, I was reflecting on how each person shared their interpretation of digital citizenship. Many significant ideas were gathered and each held merit, yet there was not an idea that I felt would resonate with students.  Upon further thought, I wondered if comparing digital citizenship to traveling to a foreign country would make sense.

Traveling and Digital Citizenship:

When you travel to a new country, it is important to know that when you are meeting people you are making a first impression. This first impression is very important as it is how people will remember you.  You also need to realize that when you are traveling, people are watching you and are aware of you.  This includes people who you have never met.  The same holds true for digital citizenship.  When you are on social media, people will get an impression of you based on your online presence on Twitter, Instagram, your blog, your comments, etc. People will be watching you and many will be people you have never met.  These impressions are lasting so you need to be aware of how you act.

When you travel to a new country, you need to respect the people you have contact with, their culture, and know what is the appropriate behavior for the situation you are in.  With your online behavior, you have to be respectful of others and act accordingly and properly. You need to treat people online as you would if you were meeting them face to face.

As you travel to any location, you also need to know what to do to be safe.  This includes protecting yourself and your property, as well as being aware of potential danger.  While you are online, you also need to protect yourself. You need to be both safe and secure.  This includes your personal information, your identity, and your device itself.

A good idea when you are traveling is to have a guide. This would be a person who could advise you where to go and to educate you about the country and surroundings.  With digital citizenship, your teacher is your guide.  Your teacher will help to educate you about appropriate and responsible online behavior.


Although this is not a perfect analogy, I believe it is one numerous students could relate to.  Please feel free to use this analogy in your most important work in teaching students about digital citizenship.  Do you have any analogies that work for you?




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An Opportunity for Collaboration in Supporting the Youth of Regina

I am proud to announce the second Community Agencies and Schools Supporting Youth Conference (CASSY 2014) to be held in Regina, Saskatchewan on Friday, October 10, 2014.  CASSY 2014 is an exceptional opportunity for educators and community agencies who work with youth to meet and learn from each other.  This theme of this year’s conference is HOPE and our conference will feature Jacque Tisher as our keynote speaker, as well as a panel of guest speakers who have utilized services in  our community. There will also be Cafe discussion sessions, breakout sessions, and an Agency Fair showcasing the many services in our city.  For more information and to register online, please visit We hope you can join us at CASSY 2014!


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Assessment, Collaboration and Instruction

Damian Cooper, in Talk About Assessment, discusses how “assessment and instruction are inseparable”. As we are aware, one purpose of assessment is for educators to reflect on the information obtained from the assessment and then make the necessary adjustments to instruction in the classroom. Instruction becomes stronger when we have conversations regarding assessment. A positive outcome to reviewing assessment results as a group is the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers as well as ancillary professionals to plan for revisions in classroom instruction.  This blog post illustrates an example of the collaborative process based on the results of the initial EYE (Early Years Assessment) at Douglas Park School.

When our Student Achievement team met with the Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers in December 2012 to review the EYE data, we discussed the possibility of working together and flexibly grouping the students in these classes to work on gross motor skills. A subsequent planning meeting was held including Esther Maerrs and Marnie Hubbard (Pre-K teachers), Diana McDowell (Kindergarten teacher), Susan Getz (Pre-K Inclusion teacher), Krista Tameling (Occupational Therapist), and Sharia Warnecke, Terry Mario, and Michele Roland Semenchuck (Instructional Consultants). Following this meeting, Krista Tameling designed five stations for the students to work through focusing on a variety of gross motor skills. The implementation of the “Gross Motor Collaboration Event” occurred over a number of days, as we combined the Pre-K and Kindergarten classes and flexibly grouped the students.  Each station was led by one of the adults involved allowing the other adults to observe and learn the activities to be practiced in the classroom.  We also used a variety of areas in the school  to demonstrate the versatile use of space.

Gross Motor Collage

Collaboration allowed for discussion of the data results and the exploration of instructional options. Each member of the group was able to share their insights into the data and contribute to the planning process. Collaboration allowed multiple perspectives to contribute to the planning of richer learning experiences for students.  By implementing a collaborative approach to both assessment and instruction, we were able to learn from each other professionally and support student learning in the area of gross motor skills.

I encourage you to consider the following question: How can you create an on-going process in your school where collaboration becomes an integral part of assessment and instruction?

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Integrating Technology Through Digital Storytelling

Integrating Technology Through Digital Storytelling: Grade 5

Recently, I have had the pleasure of co-teaching in Donna MacKay’s Grade 5 classroom at Henry Janzen School.  Donna and I discussed different ways students could achieve some of the outcomes in the Compose and Create strand of the English Language Arts curriculum and she was willing to explore the use of technology in helping her students to achieve these outcomes. The tool we chose to use was Storybird ( which allowed students to explore various collections of art and then use this art to create their own stories to share.

To introduce the concept of creating a story from pre-existing illustrations, we wrote class stories using the posters from Literacy in Action resource.  I then shared a story I had written using Storybird. This was followed by the opportunity to work in a smaller group (led by one of the teachers) to create a story to share with the other group.

Grade 5 Donna Storybird

Finally, the students were prepared to write an individual story.  Donna had set up student accounts on Storybird prior to the start of the class.  Once we had all students logged on, they combined their interests and their creativity to compose some fantastic stories! Upon completion of the stories, the students paired up with students from Lis Boan’s Grade One class to read some of their stories and then assist the Grade One students as they composed their own stories using Storybird. The Grade Fives students were wonderful teachers as they helped the Grade One students publish their first stories!

Storybird Computer

By integrating the use of technology for this assignment, we noticed many incidental results. These were not asked for by the teachers but just occurred naturally:

– Students were completely engaged in their writing and continued to create additional stories to share at home with their families.

– Students collaborated, encouraged, and assisted each other during class time.

– Students shared their stories and asked thoughtful questions to the authors of the stories.

-Students wanted to share their stories with others outside of the classroom and also wanted teach others how to write stories using this tool.

Click on the link below to read one of the many wonderful stories written by the Grade 5 students:

Millie's Story

There are numerous tools available to incorporate digital storytelling into your classroom through both laptop computers and iPads. I encourage you to integrate some of these tools into your classroom to both engage students and allow students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

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Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. -Socrates

Providing students with an avenue to engage in interest-based learning experiences has given me many meaningful teaching moments.  As educators continue to explore various ways to engage students and improve student success rates, I have found that designing learning opportunities based on student interest has been extremely valuable.  Identifying student interest (as part of continual assessment) is one of the key elements of differentiated instruction as outlined by Carol Ann Tomlinson.  By investigating what your students are interested in prior to planning your unit and using this information to plan your instruction, you are presenting your students with the freedom to propel their learning to a higher degree.  Flexible groupings are also connected to student interest by giving students a chance to work with others who share their zest for a particular topic. My role as an Instructional Consultant has allowed me to co-plan and co-teach with both classroom teachers and members of my consultant team.  We have seen such fantastic results when we differentiate for student interest…high levels of focused learning, creative and intriguing conversations, impressive demonstrations of learning, and greater levels of student ownership. I encourage you to allow students to kindle their own flames and explore their interests as they learn.  You will be designing unique learning opportunities as well as giving yourself some memorable teaching moments!

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“It is such a warm feeling to be remembered”

These words were written to my family by my 90 year old great aunt.  We had sent her a Christmas card with a family photo and she subsequently sent us a note sharing her gratitude.  As I thought about the message from my delightful aunt, I began to think about the teaching profession and how important it is for us to remember the positive moments. What are we able to remember in our days and weeks that give us a warm feeling and a sense of happiness as we work with students and colleagues?

In my role as Instructional Consultant, I am fortunate to spend time with a variety of wonderful students and teachers.  Here are some of my “rememberings” from the past few weeks that brought a smile to my face:

  • the look of joy on the face of a young EAL boy as I helped him fly his first kite (outside in the middle of December in Saskatchewan!)
  • watching an experienced teacher take a chance at trying something completely new in her classroom and becoming excited as she saw how well she engaged her students
  • the “thank-you for teaching us” comment from a student

I will continue to remember these special moments….I encourage you to also do the same.

Michele Roland Semenchuck

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