This fall I have been working with a UofR education intern who will be sharing my classroom from the first day of school up until Christmas. Eden Sampson has so far been in charge of the planning and teaching of social studies in our grade 8 classroom. Eden has been planning lessons that teach about citizenship to coincide with the upcoming federal election using Student Vote as her primary resource. Thinking ahead to some of the discussions she would be having with our grade 8’s I thought that the potential for a social action project existed as a supplementary activity to what Eden was doing in the classroom.
Part of what Eden is discussing with the Grade 8’s is the lack of young peoples willingness to vote. We talked about how grade 8’s really get wrapped up in the process of voting and how the issues are really important to them, and yet a whole generation, not much older than them are not showing up on voting day to have their voice heard. I suggested that Eden and I collaborate on a project (then untitled) where we use social media to help inspire others to first of all go out and vote and secondly to show all of the ways young people can become involved in the political process and display good citizenship qualities.
In addition Eden and I would plan collaboratively lessons that we would co-teach in health centered around teaching Digital Citizenship to the grade 8’s. We thought we would start with Digital Citizenship in health and then use the skills the students built to launch our social action project.
As Eden would be teaching most of the Social Studies up until the election, it was decided that I would take the project over after the election, as we would like to see the students participation extend beyond the election date. The challenge would be to post to a social media sites ie Twitter actions that they would consider to be examples of good citizenship (volunteering, respecting laws, caring for communities, addressing injustices, etc.). Ideally we would like to see the development of a hashtag that would hopefully gain momentum and other followers posting and sharing what they are doing as well. Really we want to connect with other students who are using social media to promote active citizenship.
The red tape so to speak comes into the equation regarding students use of twitter. Would each student need a twitter account? And if so do we have permissions in our standard form to do so? Could we post from the school account our actions and then hashtag it and hope to gain momentum that way? How vital is it that kids can post as they like? These are all questions that we have to reflect on before continuing. In the meantime, Eden and I will start to plan/teach our digital citizenship lessons and go from there once we have a better idea where it is headed too.