It’s Time to #DigCitCommit

Dear Teachers,

The ISTE 2018 conference is now a fading memory. It’s always such a great experience to connect with other like-minded educators, overwhelming as it is. (Read about ISTE 2018 by the numbers here.) As you might expect, I spent no small amount of time talking #digcit with my nerdy friends from far and wide. We were all so excited that Richard Culatta, ISTE CEO, specifically called out the importance for all educators to address digital citizenship. He spent about 20 minutes in his pre-opening-keynote address urging all of us to commit to teaching our students to build more positive online communities, to engage in online disagreements respectfully, to work to change public policy, and to critically assess the validity of online resources. That is a tall order!

But as I always say, it doesn’t all have to happen at once; it just takes all of us on the same page, actively working toward these goals. My mantra is “Every Teacher, Every Classroom, Every Day” – meaning that if every teacher in every school across America and the world would make just one reference a day to some aspect of digital citizenship, we could make significant positive changes to our online spaces. But I’ve also been thinking lately that digital citizenship efforts are a lot like my yoga practice: even though I *intend* to go to yoga class 5 days a week, if I go even ONCE a week, I feel better. So if you miss an opportunity to preach a good word for #digcit one day – don’t give up and just go back to your old habits! This week maybe you’ll say just one thing; next week perhaps it will be two or three. The more you do it, the easier and more natural it will feel (also like yoga), and saying SOMETHING about #digcit is better than saying nothing at all! The point is: COMMIT to making a concerted effort to encourage your students to have the best possible citizenship, both online and in their face-to-face interactions. For most of our students, there is not a hard line between digital and real life.

digcitcommit tweets

I was so gratified to see how the digcit conversation continues to expand. The DigCitPLN meeting had a whopping *31* people in attendance! I loved hearing how important #digcit is to each person who attended the meeting. My tenure as co-chair of ISTE’s DigCitPLN is over, and I’m pleased to be turning it over to the exceedingly brilliant and competent Lauren Villaluz and Vanessa Monterosa. I can’t wait to see how the concept of digital citizenship continues to evolve over the next year!

If you’re looking for #digcit resources to help you get started, you might start with #ISTE18 – My Top Takeaways by Gail Desler, the winner of the DigCitPLN’s inaugural PLN award. And check out my growing, curated list of all things #DigCit at my Cultivating a #DigCit State of Mind site.

What will YOU commit to doing this year to grow great digital citizens in your classroom? We can’t continue to NOT act on this: the future of democracy truly depends on our students’ citizenship – digital and otherwise.




What Are You Reading?

Dear Teachers,

As a former librarian (and you know I always say I’m forever a librarian in my heart!), I’m always curious about what people are reading. I’ve been known to start a conversation in airports with strangers who are reading, particularly if that book happens to be one I’ve read. I’ve gotten lots of suggestions over the years for books to try because of books that people might be holding in their hands; I’ve even made a couple of good friends from striking up conversations about books that were read at the pool or in a restaurant.

Recommendations of books are so important; that’s what most good reading teachers do for kids – right? We read constantly so that we can talk about books and motivate kids to read them too. Students are much more likely to read a book that a teacher or peer has recommended. And adults are the same way! While I love to look over the New York Times Best Books list, I’m significantly more inclined to read a book if a friend tells me about it and tells me what they liked about it.

51k2SdxarJLTwo books about digital citizenship come to mind when I think of books that I want others to read! Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership by Jennifer Casa-Todd is the first one. This book is full of examples of kids doing amazing things with social media, and how those kids claim their roles as digital leaders when given the opportunity to do so. In providing these examples and framing the #digcit conversation in a positive light, Casa-Todd gives many specific examples of how schools can provide opportunities for digital leadership.

productimageThe second #digcit book I can’t recommend highly enough is Dr. Kristen Mattson’s Digital Citizenship in Action. Dr. Mattson stresses the importance of modeling & mentoring students in digital spaces, and providing lots of opportunities for students to engage in online spaces. Mattson covers big ideas like the roles that people play in digital communities, the skills that students will need in order to be able to make meaningful contributions on social media, and the importance of providing authentic opportunities for students to participate in online spaces. And she does so in six easy-to-digest chapters that feature real-life examples and lots of encouragement.

Jennifer and Kristen are two of the smartest voices in digital citizenship today, and both books are, in my opinion, required reading if you want to grow your own thinking about what digital citizenship means. I encourage you to add both books to your summer reading list.

And because, as I mentioned above, people are more likely to read books that have been recommended, I’d like to ask you what YOUR recommendations are. One of my contacts at ISTE has asked for educators to write book reviews on Amazon. If you are so inclined, it would be terrific if you could respond to their request:

We’d love to hear what you, our readers, think of our books! Please consider sharing your thoughts with us and the community.

Your feedback helps ISTE create the best possible resources for teaching and learning in the digital age, and we take your feedback seriously. With this in mind, we are reaching out to ask if you would be willing to post a book review on We welcome honest comments about our product quality so we can continue publishing the kind of books you want to read.

If you need an ebook or print copy of the book for your review, please let us know.

–From the ISTE Books Team, 

Here’s a link to ISTE’s books page, which includes all their current and forthcoming titles: I know there are hundreds of worthy books out there, but if you find one that makes a difference to you and your teaching practice, share your thoughts about it with others who might benefit from your review!

I wish you, dear teachers, a wonderful summer of reading and recharging.





Getting Ready for ETSI 2018!

Dear Teachers,

It’s my favorite time of year again: the time when I plan with my awesome team to develop our district’s annual Ed Tech Success Initiative (ETSI) professional learning experience. Each year, we tweak and modify ETSI, and I have to say, I think each year it gets better and better. I’m proud of the fact that we have a huge waiting list again this year, and I’m excited to help shape the event.

ETSI collage2

Over the course of the past school year, our district has gone 1:1 with Chromebooks, and we are designing ETSI this year to focus on digital citizenship and the pedagogical changes necessary when working in a 1:1 environment. As always, we will focus on ISTE Standards and use the SAMR and TPACK reflection tools as we encourage our educators to think more deeply about their technology integration decisions.

Our essential questions for ETSI 2018 are:

  • How do I become an effective advocate for digital citizenship?
  • How does my pedagogy need to change in a 1:1 environment?
  • How can I leverage technology to truly transform learning experiences for students?
  • What is a “digital citizen” and why is that term important?
  • What do I need to do to ensure that students are empowered digital learners?

Once again, we are putting together the kind of PD that I would like to participate in! No sit and get allowed – there is a lot of conversation and hands-on activities planned as we try to model the kinds of experiences we want our teachers to be facilitating in their classrooms. I can’t wait to see how ETSI 2018 impacts our classrooms and learners! I’ll keep you posted.



Accurate Reflections

Dear Teachers,

Have you seen the recent reports about how selfies distort your face and make your nose look bigger? “Researchers now are cautioning that patients interested in cosmetic procedures should not turn to self-photographs as guidance when considering making changes to their faces,” says a recent CNN article. Even before selfies, I noticed a tendency in almost everyone I know to look at a photo and zoom in to identify our own flaws to the exclusion of anything positive in the frame. (My right eye, seriously, IS a lot squintier than my left, by the way.) And so there is now some evidence to suggest that a look at our own selfie pictures is creating even more opportunities for self-criticism, leading more of us to undergo elective SURGERY. Crazy, right?


I’ve been reading lately about the value of reflecting to help us improve our teaching practice, and I couldn’t help but see the parallels between the distorted selfie pictures and the way my own reflecting usually goes. I am all for productive reflection. For example, I bet that if you are a secondary teacher, you usually feel like the 5th period’s lesson is significantly better than the one you tried in 1st period. That’s because you thought about what could have gone better, realized where and how you needed to be more clear, and made adjustments based on those reflections. A few days ago, I was tweaking a presentation just minutes before I was about to begin it. The teacher near me observed what I was doing and said, “Yep, that’s being a teacher.” I guess most educators are just built that way. Productive reflection that helps us improve our lesson delivery is a good thing, of course.

But sometimes I feel like my self-reflection goes too far, or at least it goes too far in the wrong direction. I find myself reflecting about things I am long past being able to control or change. You may know what I’m talking about: that kid I wish I’d been a little nicer to. The parent conference from early in my career where I surely offended someone with my know-it-all suggestions. A horrifying memory of the way I spoke to a co-worker. The endless litany of the ways I screwed up as a mother, and the crushing knowledge that there are no do-overs.

It’s like there is a very accomplished chorus of Mean Girls in my head, eager to point out to me every shortcoming and flaw I’ve ever had and every regrettable thing I’ve ever said or done. And I not only listen to them, I seem to invite them in and then turn up the volume. If only I hadn’t been so strict and controlling. If only I had listened more. If only I had acted with just a little more love & compassion. If only I had been less harsh and more helpful; less critical and more compassionate.  If only…if only…if only…

“You can be forgiven for not being perfect” is something I read a few weeks ago, and I’ve been trying to remember to say this to myself when my brain goes on autopilot to all the memories I harbor where I wish I’d behaved differently. I’m often much quicker to forgive others – or to encourage others to forgive themselves – than I am to forgive my own flaws.

I’m guessing that you’d be surprised at how routinely I torture myself with these “wish I had” and “should have done” memories. I’m assuming that I don’t look nearly as obsessive and flawed from the outside. So I gotta wonder, do any of you do this, too? Like me, are your selfie memories maybe a little distorted?  Because just so you know, from my perspective, you all look great. From my vantage point, your nose looks just fine, and you are beautiful.




How We Grow into a #DigCitStateofMind

Dear Teachers,

I’ve been thinking, as I so often do, about how my thinking about Digital Citizenship has evolved over time. I’ve noticed some patterns and similarities in the way that I and many other educators have grown in our understanding.

So I cooked up this infographic to try to to describe what I’ve observed. I am hoping it might encourage educators and education stakeholders to grow into more sophisticated ways of thinking about digital citizenship.



[Click image to open infographic in a new window.]

How does this description of stages compare to what you’ve observed? I would love your thoughts about your experiences. Please comment, if you like, to help me improve this infographic.





Adding to My Nerdiness…

Dear Teachers,

I was invited to be a guest on Region 10’s Digital Radio Learning podcast. Let my 15 minutes of fame commence!
Region10podcastimagePhoto credit: Region 10 Digital Learning Radio.
Podcast available at at 

A quick recap of what we discussed:

  • The terrific Master of Education in Digital Learning and Leading program at Lamar University, and the #COVA model which you can read about here and here.
  • How #COVA led me to create CLICK, a website of student-created technology tips (my baby, and the project that got me to the Google Innovator Academy in London)
  • How CLICK relates to digital citizenship
  • My additional thoughts on digital citizenship, including a shoutout to ISTE’s new three-pronged framework that empowers digital learners to develop as Digital Self, Interactor, and Agent

Finally, if you really haven’t gotten enough of me and that #digcit thing, you can check out the ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar that I did with my buddy Julie Paddock recently – the title was Digital Empowerment: Everyone as a Digital Leader.

Hope to see you at TCEA! You could visit my poster session on Cultivating a #DigCit State of Mind on Monday and also drop by our DigCit Meetup on Thursday!



#DigCit Nerd Heaven!

Dear Teachers,

It is dreary out as I write this: cold, cloudy, and threatening rain. The perfect day to stay indoors in front of a fire, with a blankie, a good book, and cup of something hot. Which is what I had every intention of doing, until I started thinking about all the cool things coming up in my little corner of the Digital Citizenship world. I tell you, it takes somebody really nerdy to feel so ENERGIZED about this topic. What is that old saying again? “It’s better to keep quiet and have everyone think you’re a #digcit nerd than to write a blog post and remove all doubt”? Or something like that…

Anyway, I know there are a few of you out there who share my passion for this topic and understand its importance. My district is in the process of going one-to-one with Chromebooks, and I know that it is non-negotiable that we get all teachers on board understanding digital citizenship principles and how to put those principles into practice. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities coming up for those who are just beginning to get curious and for those who are already passionate about the topic like I am.

If you are an ISTE member, one thing you can do between now and January 26 is to vote for a proposal that Julie Paddock and I have submitted to the first-ever People’s Choice session selection. We were so appreciative of the positive feedback we received at our session last year, and as PLN leaders, she and I feel that we definitely have something to contribute on this topic. This year, our proposed session is titled Digital Empowerment: Everyone as a Digital Leader. Thanks in advance if you could head over to that link and give our session a quick click!

The next event on the #digcit lineup is the @DigCitPLN’s monthly Twitter chat. The chat will happen on January 18 at 6pm PT/ 8pm CT/ 9pm ET, and this month’s topic is “Building a Positive School Culture Through Community Initiatives and Honest Conversations,” led by Kevin Rokuskie and friends. I hope you can tune in and join us.

At the end of the month, Julie Paddock and I will deliver a webinar through ISTE’s Professional Learning series. Our topic will be a preview of what we hope to present at ISTE in June. We hope you will register and tune in on Wednesday January 31 at 4pm PT/ 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. We’ll have some good tips for you on Digital Empowerment and ways to become a digital leader. No matter where you are on your #digcit journey, we hope you’ll find something useful to take away (and it’s only a half hour long).


Right after our webinar, there’s a couple of things I’m REALLY excited about: two events at the annual TCEA convention in Austin. First, I’ll be doing a poster session on “Cultivating a #DigCit State of Mind” on Monday, February 5th from 3:00-5:00 pm. I’ll have lots of ideas and suggestions for how you can weave digital citizenship into what you’re already doing, and you’ll have a chance to contribute to a collection of resources, too! Then on Thursday, February 8, there will be a first-ever #DigCit Meetup at 4:45 in Room 11AB. This will be a chance to meet other like-minded teachers and discuss ways to move the #digcit conversation forward. Click here to let me know what you’d be interested in seeing at the #DigCit Meetup – I’m so looking forward to getting to know some of my fellow nerds!