Safety Badge Unlocked! Southwest ISD Implements Be Internet Awesome

Real-world best practices from Southwest Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas.

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We’ve seen countless success stories from teachers and school leaders alike with implementing Be Internet Awesome, the free digital citizenship curriculum from Google for EDU, and the accompanying interactive lessons powered by Pear Deck. From dedicating entire days to digital literacy to setting small portions of classroom time aside, there’s no single correct way to implement digital citizenship curriculum in your classroom or school.

For Safer Internet Day we put our heads together with the Be Internet Awesome team to dig deeper into learnings from one successful curriculum implementation experience. Today’s success story was first shared by Director of Instructional Technology at Southwest Independent School District Dodie Maddox on her podcast, “The ShabbyGeek’s 100days.” Read on for Dodie’s insights on implementing the curriculum across all K12 classrooms in her district.


Where did you first hear about Pear Deck and Be Internet Awesome?

I heard about it on Twitter and learned more at the ISTE 2018 Conference.

Did you have digital citizenship curriculum in place at the time?

Two years ago, our curriculum was strictly Commonsense Media (modified to meet our needs). Last year, I created some HyperDocs to go with Be Internet Awesome at the elementary level. Campuses chould choose between the two. The feedback I received from my experienced campuses was that the students responded positively to Be Internet Awesome. So, when Be Internet Awesome and Pear Deck teamed up, the decision was easy to make the switch.

Who were the key decision makers in implementation?

As the Director of Instructional technology, I proposed it to my team. Considering the feedback we had received from the campuses on Be Internet Awesome, we knew the content would be well received. We had also been looking at ways to encourage teachers to try out Pear Deck, so for us it was a win-win. We did make some modifications, such as creating one lesson for each grade level (K-8) and four “rotating” lessons for the high school to complete over the next 4 years.

As we modified, we tried to keep our district initiatives in mind. You may notice our high school lessons are taught through the English classes. Initially, this was met with some resistance. However, once everyone saw the writing piece that we embedded using the free resources, the curriculum gurus approved.

How did you engage once the decision was made?

Everyone had a role to play:

Admin: Ensured curriculum aligned with district priority goals, provided training, and explained eRate compliance alignment. We did give them some flexibility in the scheduling—they had a six week window to complete the lessons.

Teachers: The lesson was done for them from beginning to end. This was huge. So in the training, they were able to focus on a) how to use Pear Deck, and b) concepts related to Internet safety that they needed to brush up on. At least 50% of teachers that were required to deliver the lessons have requested more training on Pear Deck. At least 20% have started using Pear Deck regularly!

Students: The content was engaging. They are familiar with the annual lessons and noticed the change in design. They also liked that their teachers learned to use a new tech tool for instruction.

What were some challenges in distributing the curriculum?

Not all teachers are familiar with Google Slides and Add-Ons. However, this is a good challenge, because it encouraged our teachers to step outside their comfort zone and learn a different tool. With this type of deployment, we are not necessarily working with the teachers that embrace edtech. There are a multitude of skill levels. But the fact that we converted some late adopters through this process shows the power of Pear Deck and these lessons.

What is your advice to other school administrators facing similar challenges?

Supportive consistency. Ensure they understand they will be delivering this lesson in the format it was delivered. But, be patient and supportive, offering multiple types and times for training, Q&A, and even a co-teacher if needed.

What age range/grade level are you currently providing the curriculum to?

K-12

How did you adopt different lessons per year/grade level?

We started with the scope and sequence that determines which topics will be covered at each grade level. We “spiraled” the topics. So students will get the 1st lesson in each of the Be Internet Awesome topics, then they get the second in each topic, and so on.

We did, however, embed the games in all K-8 lessons to help engage the students. The amount of time spent on the game was left up to each teacher.

Once we knew which lessons were going in each grade-level, we went in and modified the lessons for appropriate rigor.

We are also always open to feedback. We will be shuffling a couple of elementary topics around based on feedback from elementary campuses. We also moved the window for K-1 students to February instead of October with the rest of the district.

If you were to advise teachers on how they could teach BIA if they only had 1 hour on 1 day, what would be your advice? How would it vary by grade level (especially amongst elementary school grades)?

I would advise that they choose one area of focus, and not the entire BIA curriculum. Pick the one that is most relevant to the age of the students. I would start with the games as a way to introduce the terminology. Once students understand the terminology, it is much easier to have conversations with them about the topic and let “learning moments” arise at other times.

How did you decide on English class as your delivery subject?

We have a very unique schedule at our high schools. We have a five-period, four-semester block schedule. English is the ONLY course that meets all four semesters. And it is the only subject required for all high school students. Once we realized this would need to be our implementation course, we knew it had to align with district priorities in that subject. So we replaced the game with the writing prompts. The game became optional after the lesson was done.

Can you share some sample writing prompts for various grade levels?

The prompts mainly came from the discussion questions that were a part of the original BIA curriculum. They were short essays. Then the teacher had the option of choosing one and having them expand it.

1. Describe a time when youʼve taken action to spread kindness to others online.

2. Describe a situation where it would be appropriate to block someone online? Be sure to include why.

3. Describe a situation where it would be appropriate to report someoneʼs behavior? Be sure to include why.

4. Explain how to secure accounts and privacy settings to your grandparent.

5. Is stealing a password and pretending to be someone else online Identity Theft? Defend your position.


Our most sincere thanks to Dodie for sharing her district’s experience! Have you implemented Be Internet Awesome in your classroom or district? We’d love to hear about it! Email hello@peardeck.com with the subject line “BIA Implementation” or tweet to @PearDeck with #BeInternetAwesome.

In celebration of Safer Internet Day, the Be Internet Awesome Installer now contains 5 vocabulary lists from the curriculum pack, ready to play in Flashcard Factory. Get the entire Be Internet Awesome pack here.

Danielle Stebel