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Why the Abstinence-Only Approach Isn’t Working With Digital Citizenship

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Location: Room 356-7
Experience live: All-Access Package
Watch recording: All-Access Package Year-Round PD Package

Explore and create : Creation lab

Kat Crawford  
It’s time to rethink our digital citizenship approach. Instead of the abstinence-only approach, we need to create a “what now?” approach. It is time to create a curriculum that addresses the digital world that we are living in and helps students navigate real-world situations.

Audience: Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: If you do not have a device, make sure you have something to write on and with.
Topic: Digital citizenship
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Learning Designer
  • Collaborate with educators to develop authentic, active learning experiences that foster student agency, deepen content mastery and allow students to demonstrate their competency.
For Educators:
  • Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.
For Students:
Digital Citizen
  • Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants will know that our current digital citizenship curriculum does not support the digital world our students are living in. After this session teachers will understand how a culture of shame alienates students from repairing digital behaviors and strategies of don't do this and don't do that will not help students navigate mistakes already made. We need to be responsive to our diverse community of students and address all of their needs! Teachers will leave the session with lots of activities and strategies they can use to adapt those lessons to provide inclusion and equity to all students in their classroom.


Launch Activity: Attendees will put themselves in the shoes of a diverse group of students and try to address their digital concerns. (10 minutes)
Mini-Lesson: Explain how our current curriculum is an abstinence-only approach to education and how that does not provide inclusion for our students and promotes a culture of shame. (10 minutes)
Design Thinking Activities: Using a series of design thinking activities attendees will curate a variety of ideas/activities/strategies that they can embed into their lesson to expand on their current curriculum to make digital citizenship accessible and equitable for their students. (35 minutes)
Exit Ticket: Attendees will make a call to action on how they will address the authentic needs of their students and their digital world. ( 5 minutes)

Supporting research

This is actually a topic that is just being explored. I have worked as an expert on digital citizenship and I am a common sense education ambassador. I am also the parent of two teenage daughters who have first hand showcased that this model is not working for their generation.

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Kat Crawford, The Schlechty Center

KAT CRAWFORD is the executive director of digital innovation for the Schlechty Center. She supports the design of technology innovation, the transformation of school systems (specifically addressing the needs of alternative schools), and facilitates professional learning for teachers who strive to cultivate engaging work. She brings with her a creative zest, which she applies to her educational technology expertise and certifications. All of her work is driven by her core belief that all students deserve a high-quality education.

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