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Jefferson City High School students teach middle schoolers about ‘digital citizenship’

by Anna Campbell | May 5, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Lewis and Clark Middle School teacher Katie Verry, standing, shows students Taylor Brown, left, and Reice Flowers what to look for in the online project they were working on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. (Julie Smith/News Tribune photo)


Lewis and Clark Middle School students spent the day learning about how to behave online, otherwise known as digital citizenship.

Their teachers? High school students.

Jefferson City High School students in Emili Sabourin's 21st Century Communication class spent the day teaching younger students in the district about topics like "How to say goodbye to technology when you don't want to," "Privacy and security," "Digital drama," "How social media affects relationships," and "Social media and digital footprints: our responsibilities."

Sabourin said the course helps students prepare for the next stage of life with practical skills. They learn about writing emails, drafting resumes, and applying to jobs and colleges. The class also includes exposure to current, living authors and how to conduct yourself online.

Sabourin said teaching is one of the best ways to learn something yourself.

"I tried to think of how I can teach them, because I feel like often it's kind of cringey coming from an adult to teach them about how to conduct yourself online or how to de-escalate drama," she said.

After watching high school students read to elementary school students for a children's literature course, she was inspired to do something similar.

"Once I saw that that was an option, I wanted to replicate that," she said.

Senior Neiko Mosby said he hopes children walk away with an understanding of the dangers and the fun of the internet. Mosby's presentation focused on how companies collect data online and what that data can be used for. Mosby said he wanted to show children how to be safer online.

Mosby guided LCMS students through an exercise where they looked at data collection through the eyes of a company marketing products. The company was able to target consumers through data it had collected about previous purchases and their location.

Mosby said his lesson can help protect people from scams online, since cookies can collect data for scammers to use to target you specifically. While children may not find themselves in that situation, he said, it is useful knowledge for the future.

Senior Lily Williams presented on the emotional effects of social media.

"Most of my lesson is teaching them about, what you say online does have impacts on people, and it's not just, 'It's over my phone, I can say whatever I want,'" she said. She also focused on de-escalation of drama online.

Williams walked students through a scenario in which a girl posts about getting the lead in a school play and it causes drama. She had each student choose a person's viewpoint in the scenario and try to understand how the conflict got started and how it could be resolved.

"There's definitely a disconnect between, what can I say online versus in-person?" Williams said. "And so, my lesson kind of teaches them how it is important to realize that what you say online will affect you in real life."

She said it will help students find ways not to "burn bridges" over little things.

Students and their teacher said they'd learned things as they were preparing the lessons, such as how to turn off cookies on their browser.

The class also offers the high school students a chance to exercise leadership skills and learn some other useful things for the future. Williams, who wants to be an art teacher, said she got a crash course in how to craft a lesson plan.

Sabourin said it's also been an opportunity for students to reflect on their own choices online and recognize their mistakes to help younger students not make the same errors.


Print Headline: JCHS students teach middle schoolers about ‘digital citizenship’

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