This school year (2022-2023) I was tasked with transitioning my traditionally yearlong 8th grade digital essentials class into only one trimester. This meant that I would see every 8th grader (in four sections) roughly once a week for 11 classes. Digital Essentials is typically a class that all students in the middle school take. It is a chance for students to become oriented to their school devices, become familiar with our community-wide tech norms, work on interdisciplinary tech projects, learn digital skills, and gain an introduction to library and other digital resources. In the past (and for grades that have the class all year) it has been a space to discuss aspects of digital citizenship, digital wellness, digital literacy, and relevant technology news.
Because my time with the 8th graders was so condensed this year, we did not do a lot of discussion beyond the planned digital skills reinforcement. I focused on what I thought were the “essential” lessons. The tools and skills I introduced were ones that I knew would be useful for other classes and used throughout the school year in different disciplines. I structured each class similarly, using an “I Do, We Do, You Do” method for most lessons. This included a projected demonstration for the class reinforced by a more interactive guided demonstration. Students would then independently complete a “digital worksheet” using Google Forms with questions, explorations, and activities for the respective resource. Submission of these forms each class ensured that students understood basic resource navigation and the lesson objective.
Linked here are my lesson slides. A basic flow of lessons and curriculum overview follows:
- Introduction to device norms & the school-issued device agreement
- Chromebook 101: Troubleshooting, restarting, updating ChromeOS, navigating files, etc.
- Google Classroom Expectations: Checking for teacher feedback, managing the to-do list, marking assignments as done
- Navigating Sora
- Accessing and utilizing the library catalog
- Database Explorations: Finding our library databases, signing into a GALE database, looking through the features of a peer-reviewed article
- New York Times and the Wall Street Journal: Activating NYT student accounts, searching an online newspaper, accessing full-text WSJ articles through the Proquest database
- Canva: Basic graphic design lesson, using design templates, submitting projects directly using Canva for Education
Below are a few screenshots of the digital worksheets students completed independently after each lesson demonstration.
Note: An ongoing project is incorporating this curriculum into a larger 5th-8th grade digital essentials “scope and sequence.” This scope and sequence utilizes ISTE standards as a framework.