Not-So-Final Project

Not-So-Final Project

A Learning Thing

Lesson: What makes a digital citizen?

Target Audience: 7th-9th grades

By adjusting some of the required materials and creating quality/quantity restrictions (e.g. must have a video with background music, cannot be more than five minutes in                                       length) and requiring more formal citations (like an APA-style citation page in their final projects), this project can become appropriate for students up to 12th grade.

Time Frame: 10 days/2 weeks

Materials Needed: Computers (one-to-one school or access to computer lab); headphones; internet access; school email accounts; video cameras or devices that can record video and audio;                                           video editing software; photo editing software (such as Photoshop); space for students to record

Begin with a discussion/informal survey about students’ digital behaviors. The teacher will begin asking questions about how often students spend on the computer, playing video games, on phone apps, etc. For example, “Raise your hand if you spend an hour out of school each day online”, and “stand up if you look at your phone while eating lunch”. This will get students excited to talk about their online lives and behaviors.

This will transition into some discussion of statistics on digital usage in adolescents:

Step 1: Partner Up

  • Students find a partner or group of no more than 4 people
  • Groups make a Google Doc
    • Share it with me
    • This is where ideas will bounce around and decisions will be made

Step 2: Research

  • Students will work with their groups to research digital citizenship
  • Students will be given below materials to use as a “starter” to their research, but will be required to look further
9 Steps to Digital Citizenship


(This one is really silly and geared for younger students but honestly I’ve found that students around this age think this sort of thing is hilarious)

  • Students will be encouraged to use library resources and go to the library for further research and help from librarian
  • Students will use their Google Docs to keep track of resources, discuss individual findings with group, etc… essentially compile and cull info
  • Students will have three days to research, including the first “partner up” day

Step 3: Compress & Define

  • Groups will look at their compiled information and decide on the most important subtopics/elements within the topic of digital citizenship
    • Groups can have no less than five and no more than ten subtopics for their projects
  • Groups will be given one day to deliberate, discuss, and decide on what’s most important

Step 4: Creating Media

  • Groups will need to create two different representations of the elements they decided were important to digital literacy
    • These representations need to be digital, and can include videos, podcasts, slideshow presentations, music, infographic, etc.
    • Groups will okay the projects with the teacher before beginning
  • These projects can be different ways of representing the same information, or they can have some of the elements in one project and the rest in the other (half in a video and half in a podcast, etc.)
  • Students will be given four days to work on these projects in and out of class and will be given permissions to go to labs/library/cafeteria to film, record, or otherwise create
  • Groups will email final versions of the project to teacher, who will put all of the projects on the class website (which will probably be a more fleshed-out version of this)

Step 5: Exploring Other Groups

  • On the next (9th) day, students will independently explore the projects of the other groups in their class
    • Students will need to bring headphones
    • Teacher will monitor to ensure students are keeping on task
  • Students will be encouraged to take notes of similarities and differences, as well as things they found interesting and insightful in other group projects

Step 6: Full-Class Discussion

  • On the final day, students will engage in a full-class discussion on digital literacy and the projects the groups created
    • Similarities and differences will be focused on, possibly creating debate
    • Students will give constructive feedback to groups
    • Groups will have to justify their answers

Thinking About Your Thinking

At the beginning of this class, I really had never heard the terms “digital citizenship” before and had just about no concept of what it could be, except through the hints the words “digital” and “citizenship” gave. It seemed pretty straightforward…. yeah, you can laugh now. While I now have a deeper understanding of what digital citizenship is from this course, I also have more questions and confusions than I ever had. It’s like opening up one door, only to walk through and find you’re standing at the edge of a Scooby-Doo chase-scene hallway. Digital citizenship is two short words for such an insanely diverse, multifaceted topic!

I think what has really become most important to me from learning about digital citizenship over the summer is that this is really something that needs to be integrated into schools! I know that where I student taught, there was no digital citizenship classes, and it was never really discussed beyond “don’t plagiarize”. Digital citizenship is something that can be learned and explored through all other school subjects without a lot of extra effort on the part of the teacher, so schools really need to get to it! Students are getting their own laptops or devices from the schools but are not really shown how to use them, technically or ethically.

Hard-set rules about what is ethical and responsible to do online have become far less important. At the beginning of the semester, I thought that maybe digital citizenship had some sort of code that was supposed to be remembered and adhered too, but at this point digital citizenship codes better resemble the Pirate’s Code from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.

And basically measure out to just “don’t be a d*ck” rather than something complicated and set in stone.

Digital citizenship is very similar to plain old citizenship in that way. Be excellent to one another, et cetera. Traditional citizenship certainly does have a more strict code and includes stuff like voting, paying taxes, not littering…. but a fair amount of what it takes to be considered a good citizen in the traditional sense is pretty much open to interpretation. Don’t break the laws, and also maybe fill in this blank —>_________________. Digital citizenship has far fewer rules or laws, but adherence to the existing ones is certainly (like in traditional citizenship) a good start.

I think that my current understanding of digital citizenship influences a lot of my interactions online. I don’t post comments that are deliberately harmful, and try not to post anything that I wouldn’t actually say in real life. I try to post positive stuff, not overshare, and am constructive when there is criticism to give. I don’t deliberately bait and troll people, and I don’t butt myself into other people’s arguments. I don’t take other people’s work for my own profit, and I’m willing to pay to help artists continue to put out new creative works (you know, mostly). I don’t think my online habits have changed as a result of this class, except that maybe I’m a bit more willing to actually put content out on the web, where I was pretty timid before. I think that’s the best way I can continue working on my digital citizenship.

Advice for Future Students

I don’t have a ton of advice generally, but what I have is pretty important. That is:


By that I don’t just mean “do everything early”, that’s impossible. I mean, look at all of the assignments and determine how long they will take, and then do it early. Don’t wait until the day it’s due to try and cram six assignments in. Pace yourself, and produce quality work. It’s way better to cut out time for planning and structuring, especially since there’s a lot of freedom involved in this class. DON’T ABUSE YOUR FREEDOM. PRODUCE GOOD WORK.

And! Have fun with it, because this class has a lot of interesting parts, and can only be made more interesting by pushing your limits, working with programs and on projects you enjoy, and by interacting with other people in the class.

Music Shuffle Creative Writing Exercise

Music Shuffle Creative Writing Exercise

I’ve seen a couple of my classmates do this activity, and thought it would be good for the “something old, something new” assignment. As others have done a found poem, I figured I’d do another sort of found poem/remix of the lyrics. Here are the instructions:

Open your music player/app.
Put on shuffle (aka random).
Hit Play.
Record title, artist, and length of the first random song that comes up.

Use the song title, and/or lyrics, as the prompt for this exercise. You may write a short story, drabble, poem, whatever strikes your fancy—as long as it is inspired by the title/lyrics of your random song.

Make sure to include the song info at the top of the assignment.

I didn’t shuffle my music, just picked the song that was playing when I figured out what I was going to do for this assignment. This happened to be “Easy Way Out” by Elliott Smith.

You’re invisible but stuck with your mistakes
You’ve never disappeared –
You’re a confused new body but
Whatever’s left of you never chose
I suppose the man always gets luck
I suppose clothes bore a creative thinker
I suppose you take advantage of your enemy




Cybersquatting is, by definition, buying, selling, or otherwise having possession of a domain name in “bad faith“. This means that those who take these domains are looking to trick people in some way, often for monetary gain. Those who participate in cybersquatting may also hold a domain name hostage so that the logical owner of it is unable to use it – like if someone was using a celebrity’s name for their website so that people go to it thinking it belongs to the celebrity or a representative of the celebrity. This often happens with online handles on websites like Twitter, as well.  In fact, this sort of behavior actually resulted in the creation of new additions to copyright law in the United States. However, the issue still exists.

Those participating in cybersquatting often do so through a practice known as “typosquatting”, in which individuals obtain a domain name that looks a LOT like a popular name of a site or topic. They essentially rely on people misspelling the name of the website or topic and, as a result, coming to the wrong website. People might want to do this to get internet attention and more traffic going to their site, but they can also use this for more malicious purposes, like fraud and phishing. The website may try to mimic the look of another site so that individuals are tricked into thinking they are on the right site. For example, a person may buy the domain “” and model the site so that it looks like for the purpose of gaining credit card information from people who misspelled the website.

There’s a really great explanation of cybersquatting here, with examples of lawsuits that show exactly what constitutes cybersquatting.

I think that this is relevant to this class because a large part of this class has been on digital citizenship. As digital citizens, it’s our responsibilities to know the few laws that exist in relation to what is okay and what is not okay to do on the internet, especially as they may result in issues with non-digital citizenship. It’s also a responsibility to be aware of what kind of dangers may be out there, and what is ethically okay and not okay to do. This also relates very well to the last collection, relating to IP and copyright law. It’s interesting that I didn’t come across this in the last collection, actually.

Wing It! Found Poetry

Wing It! Found Poetry

I had an idea for a Wing It! project that seemed pretty simple but really artistically interesting. I have been very interested in using Google Docs for joint creative writing purposes, and I thought that this idea would be a fun one (and hopefully a successful one!). Chris and I made a found poem online, alternating lines so that we each have written half of the poem through remixing other pieces of literature. I had the odd-numbered lines. Chris had the even-numbered lines.

If you aren’t familiar with found poetry, this is essentially how it goes: Grab a book, open it to a random page, and find sentences or phrases that you like and think would work well pulled into a specific context. Usually found poetry is written on the book page, cut and paste into a piece of art, or otherwise altered from its original book state.  However, since this class is online and this project is collaborative, we took the adapted lines straight from the book onto a Google Doc. We also decided to work on the idea of “summer” in this poem. 

Another difference between normal found poetry and what we have done is that we used two different books and fused them together for the poem. I used chapter 7 from Life, the Universe, and Everything from The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (by Douglas Adams) for all of the lines. Chris used chapter 9 from His Dark Materials for all of his lines by Philip Pullman. 


by Chris Fliss and Shania Fifarek

Dazzling patterns; a sudden inexplicable craving for ice cream

A minute went by, and another

Music moved bravely up with dazzling lights

He stepped out on the silent carpet and looked into each of the cabinets in turn

Girls or angels hush the lights with a flourish

“I haven’t got it,” he whispered when she came up.

It was terribly hard to judge this extraordinary spectacle

“Hush now..”

The sky was a sullen pink, a curious color

Her voice was intoxicating: soothing, sweet , musical, and young, too.


I have never attempted to write a found poem before, although I had seen students in creative writing make them when I was student teaching. I was honestly really underestimating how much effort it was to recycle (remix, anyone?) a page or a couple of pages and turn it into something with a totally different meaning and context. I was really struggling to find phrases that made sense within the theme for a little while, and then I struggled with ordering the fragmented lines.

BUT I think this went really well. Luckily Chris and I were able to communicate efficiently through Slack and the entire collaboration took only a couple of hours. Google Docs is great because we can work collaboratively without being online at the same time – something that may have been impossible today! Overall, I think I’d give us a solid “A”: we tried something really new to us, we experimented with the traditional form it usually takes, we did it as a joint project, and it reads pretty kickass. Really, I wanted to see if it would work, and I’m very glad it panned out so well!