Why the School District of Philadelphia Revamped Its Digital Literacy Curriculum – Technical.ly

This is the first year Damian Formchin has taught digital literacy at Eliza B. Kirkbread teaches K-8 students in South Philly. She’s currently working with her classes through the Computing and Society unit – fun, but important things like digital citizenship and internet safety. But he is looking forward to the next few lessons.

I’m really looking forward to getting into the basics of computer science and coding. The guys are very excited about it, he told Technical.ly. I’m very excited because it’s a valuable skill for anyone, and for them, with our digital world, these 21st century computing skills are really essential.

Beyond access to technology, true digital advantage is knowing how to use said technology and knowing where it fits in your world.

With that in mind, the School District of Philadelphia revamped its digital literacy curriculum this year for students in grades K-8 in 112 schools. The purpose of this curriculum is to teach young students the basics of computer science, how to use computers and how to evaluate information available on the Internet.

Jessica Q. Ross-White, director of special projects in the district’s Office of Educational Technology, said the old curriculum was well-structured and had four sections: computing and society. Fundamentals of computer science and coding, including topics such as computational thinking and algorithms; media and information literacy, including media research and evaluation and bias; and digital tools and collaboration, including processing and design.

However, there were not many guidelines in that curriculum for teachers to use in planning their lessons, she said. The new curriculum has more templates, lesson plans, and links to updated resources, such as Common Sense Media and Code.org. The program is structured so that teachers can choose to use these resources or modify the lesson to suit their needs.

If we want to ensure that digital literacy is taught in these spaces, then we need to create a platform and framework that is easy for teachers to transfer those skills to their students. , He said.

Formchin said the curriculum is user-friendly for someone like him who is teaching the subject for the first time. He noted that the curriculum is also accessible to students in English and Spanish, which is helpful for his school, which has many Spanish-speaking students.

In the new curriculum, the digital tools and collaboration section is integrated into the other three sections except in the K-2 programs. The goal of the move is to ensure that students have stronger computer skills before diving into more advanced digital literacy topics, such as coding. Teachers also have a guide that explains what goals students should achieve at the end of each level.

Along with teaching students how to navigate the digital world, the curriculum can show them that they can create technology and pursue technology-related careers, especially in the upper grades, Ross White said.

Formchin said some eighth-graders have asked him about computer science classes in high school. Digital literacy classes piqued their interest.

Ross White told Technical.ly in a follow-up email: “Overall, our goal was to support this community of learners (teachers and students) in such a way that there is no excuse for not teaching curriculum in digital literacy spaces and abroad.” not have We strive to provide a robust vision where teachers can truly nurture digitally literate citizens who create the tools they use every day in and out of the classroom.

Sarah Hoffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Reporting for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lanfest Institute for Journalism.

Corporations: School District of Philadelphia

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