Students as Digital Leaders: A Digital Citizenship Lesson

Our 3rd-5th graders all get their own computer at the beginning of the year.  It’s a powerful thing. A computer can connect them with a wealth of information and opportunities to create content that gets their voice out to the teacher, the class, the community, and the world. A computer also brings great responsibility.

This year, I wanted to spend some time as we passed out new computers to lead students in a reflection on digital leadership. We started with the question: “What is a digital leader?”  Many of the students knew some things about what leaders do, but they were a bit stuck trying to decide what that looked like online.

I did some storytelling for them. I searched back through my pictures and pulled out several examples of Barrow students exemplifying digital leadership. I ended each story with the phrase “that’s digital leadership”. I shared a story about Ajacea becoming an honorary marketing intern for Capstone Press, Mick writing an ebook that was assigned as college homework, Carlos & Carlena teaching a class in Indiana, Taylor designing the 1st Barrow Peace Prize, and Adaline using email to get custom signs made for our library. When I finished the stories, I once again asked about digital leadership. I heard things like: use your technology for good, try to create change in the world, be kind, show others what they can do with their computers, and more.

5th grade classes are adding ideas about being digital leaders #digitalcitizenship #digitalleader #technology

A post shared by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

Next, we took a look at Google’s “Be Internet Awesome” words. I used the images from the Be Internet Awesome poster PDF 

I divided students into groups and gave each group one of the words: Smart, Brave, Strong, Alert, and Kind. Their job was to read the descriptors of the word and come up with a specific example of what that looked like.  The teacher and I moved between groups to join discussions.

Finally, each group shared their example, and we talked about how digital leadership is something you must do the whole time you own a piece of technology. It isn’t just a one-session conversation that we forget about. I want to revisit these words throughout the year and find ways that these current students are being digital leaders in our school.

Our 5th grade classes all did this lesson at the same time in their classrooms. I facilitated this through Google Hangouts in the library. You can view what we did here:

You can also see the brainstorms they had here:

3 thoughts on “Students as Digital Leaders: A Digital Citizenship Lesson

  1. lislibrary says:

    First, thanks for sharing your idea. I love the idea of digital leadership as an idea as opposed to digital citizenship as it implies that students are in the drivers seat. They can use technology to achieve and lead.
    Debbie Benedict

    • plemmonsa says:

      I really want them to understand how powerful it is to have all these tools at their fingertips. Thanks for reading this and thinking about how to support your own students.

  2. […] follower to use the posts as lesson seeds for work in their own libraries. In a post entitled “Students as Digital Leaders: A Digital Citizenship Lesson,” Plemmons describes in detail how he introduced the responsibilities of digital citizenship […]

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