Building an understanding of digital citizenship…

What do these two words mean?

consume           create

Everyone in the class knows what ‘create’ means but only a few are familiar with the word ‘consume’. mostly in the context of eating, although one girl says ‘It’s when you take something in, for instance information’.

We use breakfast as our example and they get the idea that making the eggs could be seen as creating and eating them as consuming. We deliberately do not use a dictionary, so that they construct meaning for themselves, rather than narrow down their understanding with a fixed definition at the start.

In groups, the children then brainstorm all the things they do in a day, making sure every item includes a verb – watch TV, play Minecraft, eat lunch, write a story…


Using two colours, they highlight which of these are consuming and which are creating. The conversations are rich, as they build their understanding and discover that it’s not either/or, that some are both and some are neither… maybe.

Which of their daily activities are digital? In new groups, they now brainstorm their digital activities, taking care to include verbs, so that, for instance, ’email’ becomes ‘read email’ and ‘write email’…

They are already discussing consuming vs creating before we even ask the question. They are totally engaged and, apart from building their understanding of the desired concepts, so many trans-disciplinary skills are evident – communication, thinking and social skills – and, quite incidentally, a host of outcomes from the English scope and sequence.

At the end they write down what they understand about creating and consuming now…


They’re clearly ready to move ahead in developing the desired conceptual understandings in this unit of inquiry…

We need to think critically about digital content that we view and create.


I don’t think critically about digital content.I believe what I read on the internet.

I don’t think critically about what I post online.


I understand that not everything on the internet might be valid or true and can explain why.I can give some some examples of how I consider audience and purpose when I create digital content online.


I can explain how to assess if a website is reliable or not.I can identify and analyse techniques used to influence consumers.

I choose appropriate techniques to communicate creatively and  effectively online and can give examples.

People are responsible for digital content they create.


I can give some examples of how I can be responsible online.  I can explain how things I post online can affect my own reputation.I can explain how things I post online can affect the wellbeing of others. I take responsibility for my digital footprint and can explain how and why I do this.I can demonstrate my positive digital footprint.


The internet enables us to communicate and collaborate with people all over the world.


I can identify ways that I communicate with others online.  I can compare and evaluate different tools for online communication and collaboration. I connect, communicate and collaborate with people online and can say what I have learned from my interactions.

Our learners are gearing up to connect with kids in other parts of Australia as well as India, Japan, Thailand, New Zealand, Canada and other countries via Skype, Twitter and blogs. And they are already asking a range of interesting questions into which they might inquire!

In addition to refining this unit of inquiry with the Year 5 teachers at my school, I’ll be leading an IB workshop on Digital Citizenship in Melbourne in May, so feedback, resources, ideas and other perspectives are invited.  Please leave a comment!

25 thoughts on “Building an understanding of digital citizenship…

  1. It can’t just be coincidence that this popped up on the RSS reader that I spent hours figuring out how to set up today. I’m moving from being a digital observer to a being digital citizen. With all of the reflection, responsibility and connection that it entails and requires at any age. Still learning.


  2. What an engaging and worthwhile inquiry your students were involved in. This is very powerful and empowering thinking you are introducing to your students. I think there are many others who would benefit from similar learning. I am also very interested in your criteria for critical thinking and responsibility. At the moment I am writing a series of posts on my blog about these same issues. I’ll be referring to this article when I post the next in the series. Thanks for this great work.


    1. Thanks, Norah. They are not actually my students, my role is in curriculum planning and I work with teachers more than kids – i was team teaching in this particular class. The rubric for conceptual understandings is the result of collaborative teamwork by the grade 5 teachers, our librarian, tech facilitator and myself!


  3. Love the idea! Thanks for a great resource. Can anyone come to your PD or just those employed in IB schools ? I’ve been researching philosophy of IB PYP and my goodness, I couldn’t have designed a more perfect matched curriculum to my pedagogy if I did it myself!!


    1. Hi Imogen
      If you like the PYP approach, you should work in a PYP school 🙂
      I’m not sure if this workshop is open to non IB teachers (I know some are) but I’ll check and let you know.


  4. Thanks for sharing this great post. I am trying to have conversations with my colleagues about this very topic at the moment and your post has offered some very practical suggestions that would work to begin a discussion about the uses of digital technologies and digital citizenship within our school.

    Mrs S


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