Q&A with Shannon Miller, Teacher Librarian and Digital Citizenship Expert

Shannon Miller PicAfter earning her degree in elementary education and art, Shannon Miller stayed home with her three children for thirteen years. When a district teacher librarian position opened up, she applied, got the job, and went back to school to get a master’s in library science. As a teacher librarian, she worked with students in kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as teachers, parents, and the school community. After several years on the job, Shannon began speaking and consulting about librarianship, technology, education and connecting classrooms online with social media. Today, she’s regarded as a thought leader on these topics. On top of her presenting and consulting work, she’s now an educational consultant for Mackin Educational Resources, the Director of School and Library Strategy for In This Together Media and the Executive Director of Library & Educational Services for Biblionasium.

Digital citizenship is a new topic at Flocab. This summer, we created the video “Think Before You Post” with our partner Common Sense Education, offering tips for students juggling multiple social media channels and deciding what to post on them. We know it can be tricky! To gear up for this year’s Digital Citizenship Week (October 19-25, 2014), we talked with Shannon to learn how she teaches students about our lives online, and why she’s so passionate about it.

Flocabulary: What is your definition of digital citizenship?
Shannon Miller: To be a digital citizen means that you are aware, responsible, and part of the world that we know, which is filled with technology, collaboration, and connecting to one another in a variety of ways. I often think about this though…should we keep calling it “digital citizenship” or just make it part of the definition of citizenship? Everyone is digital, it is everywhere, and it is part of almost everything we do. So why keep adding “digital” – it is just part of who we all are as citizens.

Flocabulary: That’s true! When did you begin teaching students about digital citizenship, and how have your lessons changed or evolved as technology has developed?
Shannon Miller: I began teaching students about digital citizenship a month into my job as a teacher librarian. When I first got hired, I was teaching 7th and 8th graders keyboarding. Before long, I was in the curriculum director’s office talking to her about changing the class to be one filled with exploring, creating, and collaborating through digital tools and resources. With this, I also knew that we had to make digital citizenship part of our curriculum within these classes. Then, it didn’t take long for me to see that this had to be infused into all grade levels within our district, as well. We wrote a new curriculum that would bring digital citizenship, technology, information literacy and a love of reading to all our students. You can find that curriculum here. From the start, I used this curriculum to guide the topics we covered, but used the technology and tools to bring creativity, exploration, and fun to the learning and teaching of these topics.

One age level that didn’t have a lot of resources was for our youngest learners. I went to my friends at Rosen Publishing and asked them if I could write a series of books that would help teachers and parents have conversations with young students about important topics. The series is called Internet Do’s and Don’ts and includes titles such as Be Nice Online, Don’t Share Your Address Online, and Don’t Share Your Plans Online. You can see them here.

Flocabulary: Since many students enjoy using social media and technology, the topic of digital citizenship has natural relevance to their interests. Tell us about one of your favorite digital citizenship lessons.
Shannon Miller: One of the best parts of using social media and technology with young people is being able to connect them to anyone throughout the world. We can connect them to other students and teachers, to experts, to authors and illustrators, to developers, to gamers – to anyone they want to connect, learn, and collaborate with. When our students entered kindergarten, we started using Skype to bring the world into the library. This brought an important conversation on being respectful and safe online while connecting with others. One of my favorite things were these first connections because of their excitement and fascination with Skype and the connection taking place. To connect the little ones to a class in Wisconsin or to the author of Little Critter, Mercer Mayer, is one of the best things ever and will create digital citizens who can communicate and collaborate with others through these connections and beyond.

Shannon McClintock Miller also blogs at The Library Voice, where she highlights her work within education, technology, social media, and digital citizenship.

Student Inventions

Every week, our Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest gives students an opportunity to win a shout out for their school in the next Week in Rap. For this week’s contest, we challenged you to imagine a revolutionary new invention.

Our winner this week is Park Hill Elementary School in Denver, CO. Mrs. Mills and Ms. Kennan’s fifth graders started the year off strong with some stellar entries!

  • The biggest problems with the way mankind lives in the present are pollution and global warming. The problem is noticed worldwide, but it remains unacted upon. The U.S. is (sort of) trying to act upon it, but if it isn’t stopped, it could make mankind become extinct. I might have an idea to stop this worldwide problem, but it would be hard work. We need to create a device that makes oxygen as easily as factories make destructive gasses. We know how photosynthesis works, so I’m thinking that we could make artificial oxygen producing cells, but that inhale and exhale one thousand times faster than a normal plant. We could pack it in strong, recyclable material and attach it to hang gliders that are dropped from planes. All of the poisonous gasses in Earth’s atmosphere would be converted to oxygen, thus possibly ending global warming. — Dylan
  • If I had to invent something I would invent super-duper springy shoes. They are shoes that are so bouncy that if you put them on you could bounce across the Atlantic Ocean. That way, I would be able to go see my aunt and cousins in Norway after school to have a cup of tea. I would also be able to go and get chocolate, brown cheese, and candy, and still make it back before soccer. This would save the earth a lot of money and pollution. It would also save people a lot of time. The shoes come in all sizes and could be adjusted, depending on if you want to travel alone or with your whole family. — Helen
  • My invention would be an automatic paper grader for teachers. It would look like a normal printer but you would put the paper in one end and it would come out the other, completely graded. It would automatically record the grades into the computer. It would save a lot of the teachers’ time so they could spend time with their families and friends. Also, they would have more time to think about what to teach the students so they could improve their teaching abilities. It would save the school money, too. It would be made out of recycled items so it would be good for the planet. All schools would be able to afford it, because it would be inexpensive. It would take some of the stress off the teacher. My goal is to become a teacher and it would save a lot of my time. — Averi
  • Instead of having a really heavy backpack, you should be able to have an electronic device that has all your textbooks on it. It would have all the information you’ll need for the school year for free. Say goodbye to heavy backpacks that cause damage to kids’ spines! Now with this new device, all you’ll need is a full battery. Don’t wait to get it, so you won’t be lugging around seven textbooks. Throw away that backpack! You can even do your homework and take notes. For every four hours you use it, it only takes five percent of your battery. — Vanessa
  • I think having a helicopter on your backpack would be awesome. Kids could just walk out of the house, turn on their Copterpack, and fly to school. It would make things lighter for the kids, too. Also, there wouldn’t need to be buses for kids anymore. Bus drivers would lose their jobs, but they could be, like, air crossing guards, instead. The kids would love it and their parents wouldn’t need to drive them to school. It would save gas and everyone could sleep later. I guess there could be ones for grown-ups, too. It could be on a work bag or something. That is my fantastic invention. — Ella

Great work, everyone! These would all be amazingly useful inventions.

We also wanted to share some of our other favorite invention ideas. Check them out:

  • I would invent a mesh that could be placed in a road that would warm the road’s surface to a temperature that would prevent ice and snow from sticking to it in the winter. The grid would be charged by solar and / or wind power and would help save lives by keeping roadways and bridges safe in cold, snowy, and icy weather. The mesh is also environmentally friendly and salt and other chemicals would not have to be used to clear roads, which leads to runoff into streams that damage water sources, fish, and other wildlife. — Moorefield Middle School, WV
  • My invention is called Speed Boots. They help you get from one place to another. They are so simple, all you have to do is put them on. There’s a button you press and then you have to say a place (like Hawaii), and you will be there in about two seconds. You can buy them at your local Wal-Mart or Target. They cost $15. That’s way less than a car. When you buy the boots, you can custom design them. If you buy them today, then you will get them half off. I will even do the cool design for free! — Robert, Camden Elementary, SC
  • My invention will change the world. I have invented a machine that can make you early for work and school. It can even help you arrive to your scheduled appointments on time. You will never be late again. It is called the Early Nater 2,000. It is a machine that you will walk through it and it gets you ready for wherever you’re going. Just enter in what you want to wear and it does the work for you. It took six weeks and three days to develop the first one. I think my invention will really help people around the world. — Nathan, Camden Elementary, SC

Thank you to everyone who submitted invention ideas! Don’t forget to enter this Friday’s Week In Rap Shout-Out Contest for a chance to win a shout out on October 3.

What Do You Want To Learn?

Every week, our Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest gives students an opportunity to win a shout out for their school in the next Week in Rap. For this week’s contest, we kicked off the school year by asking: What do you want to learn?

Our winner this week is Chatham Charter School in Siler City, NC. Mrs. Jourdan’s students wrote some wonderful entries:

  • Hi! I’m Tamia and I’m 12 years old. Something I’ve always wanted to learn is gymnastics. Cheer, dance and gymnastics has always been a passion for me but I know that my family cannot afford it, so I’ve tried to teach myself from youtube videos. It has taught me some but not at the level I need to compete with others who actually have one on one training. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do front or back flips in the air. I believe that if someone spotted me or gave me support and taught me the proper techniques I could be successful. Over the years I’ve watched my cousin perform gymnastics and I’ve said to myself, “Wow! I wish I could do that.” My dream is to learn in a place where there are talented teachers, good supporters, and reasonable tuition. — Tamia
  • I want to learn how to create an advanced computer software that allows people to do a great number of things.
       The first thing it will allow them to do is communicate without a skype camera or app, you just click the camera button and type in the name of the person you want to talk to. It will allow the communication signal to travel great distances incase your family, friends, or relatives live overseas or a long ways off.
       The second thing it will allow people to do is to make their own websites with ease. It will give you high speed Internet so that you can create a website where u can sell items or just so people can look at it. When you create a website using this software it will allow you to create a commercial for your website for a price of $50.
       The third and final thing that my software will allow people to do is connect with their TV or Internet so that they can watch TV from their computers anywhere they would like. You simply just click the button that looks like a TV, and then you click your TV provider and type in your Internet passcode. After that you will be allowed to watch live TV from all of your channels anywhere you go with or without Internet. — Rachel
  • If I could learn anything that I don’t know yet, I would learn Chinese. I would learn Chinese because it seems like a really cool language to speak and write. I would also like to learn sign language so I could communicate with people that cannot speak. Also, if I learn these things I could teach other people too. These are the things I would learn if I could learn anything. — Briana

Awesome entries! We hope you have the chance to learn everything you set your sights on.

Thank you to everyone who entered this week! Don’t forget to enter this Friday’s Week In Rap Shout-Out Contest for a chance to win a shout out next Friday.

What’s Your Dream Vacation?

Every week, our Week in Rap Shout Out Contest gives students an opportunity to win a shout out for their school in the next Week in Rap. For this week’s contest, we finished off summer vacation by asking: What’s your dream vacation?

Our winner this week is General Ray Davis Middle School in Conyers, GA. Check out a few of the great entries we received from Mrs. Cawley’s students!

  • My dream vacation would not stay in one place. I would travel all over the world! I would go to London, Paris, Venice, all sorts of places. I would probably do all the touristy stuff and go see the Eiffel Tower, and ride the London Eye. I would ride around in the gondolas in Venice, and walk around Amsterdam. I would bring my parents, my brothers, and a few friends. One of my brothers is old enough to go do what he wants to, while I’ll stick with Mom and Dad. I think that it would be a blash! I would get a postcard from everywhere we wnt (I collect postcards). I would try to help people when I could, and it would be really fun. I realize that it probably isn’t going to happen, but sometimes, dreaming is better than the actual thing. — Maria
  • Well Hi! I’m Peyton. My dream vacation is to go to Bora Bora with my friends: Reece, Emily, Laeia, and Lilly, and my school family: Reece, Anslee, Logan, and J.D. Bora Bora, if you didn’t know, is little hosues on stilts in the crystal blue waters. We would have the most fun ever! We would go snorkling and scuba diving and can’t forget the new yummy food to try! We would go shopping and get lots of clothes and souveniers. I would love to go to Bora Bora! And I hope one day my friends and I will get to go there! — Peyton
  • Just picture taking a picture with Ariel or riding Space Mountain! My dream vacation is to go to Walt Disney World (again). People ahve this stereotype that teenagers don’t like kid stuff, but trust me, this teenager does! I haven’t been to Disney World in a few years, and they have added so much. They made Belle a castle (my favorite princess). I would love to meet them. So, basically, if I win the lottery and you need me, you can come find me swimming with Ariel and my friends (Maddie, Emily, and Peyton). Or I will be taking pictures with beautiful little girls because I’m the new princess named Mackenzie! — Reece

Congratulations to Mrs. Cawley’s class and everyone at General Ray Davis Middle School!

We also loved this entry from Kadie at Mauldin Middle School in Simpsonville, SC.

  • My dream vacation is to go back where I was born in the Cayman Islands. I don’t remember because I was 2 years old when I left. It would be lovely and I see myself sitting on hot sand drinking out of a tropical coconut. In my head I would imagine perfection – nothing that would put this cavagtion down and it was even better just listening to the soothing sound of the palm trees swaying back and forth.

Finally, here’s Rachel’s entry from Chatham Charter School, NC.

  • If I could go anywhere in the world I would go to Hawaii. I would do lots of fun and awesome things. The people that would go with me are my family(mom, dad, sister), and two of my friends.
        When I go to Hawaii I would take a cruise to get there and a cruise on the way back. I would spend two weeks in Hawaii. On the cruise there would be a water slide that goes over the ocean, a pool, a gym, and five restaurants that are cheap and have a variety of foods. It would take a month to get to Hawaii and a month to get back.
        When we get to Hawaii we would check in to our hotel room and then we would unpack. After we unpack we would spend the rest of the day relaxing at the pools. The next day we would go wind surfing and parasailing. For the rest of the two weeks we would go swimming with dolphins, island fire shows, and relax by the pool. We would also go look at volcanos and do an island tour from a helicopter.
        That is my realistic short story of what I would do in Hawaii if I were to ever go.

Thank you to everyone who shared their amazing vacation ideas with us this week! Don’t forget to enter this Friday’s Week In Rap Shout-Out Contest for a chance to win a shout out next Friday.