SPIRIT Classes Explore Website Reliability and Digital Citizenship

The Long Beach Public Schools’ SPIRIT program has been focusing on website reliability and digital citizenship in its lessons with elementary school students. As part of the districtwide emphasis on Internet and technology safety, students are taught to use online resources appropriately and carefully.

Students at East, Lido, Lindell and West elementary schools will all be engaging in various long-term projects through their SPIRIT classes. Leading up to their creation of Prezis, blogs and websites, the students are learning to be responsible digital citizens in order to ensure that their work reflects accurate information.

SPIRIT teachers recently taught students how to analyze and critique websites that they visit when conducting research. Together they discussed the elements that deem a website reliable and were provided with strategies and tips for making such determinations on their own.

Students learned to consider a website’s author, copyright, purpose, appearance, content and level of bias before potentially trusting that it provides precise and truthful facts. They explored the meanings behind various URL endings and what these abbreviations can indicate about the site.

In accordance with SPIRIT’s curricular approach, the classes first engaged in group conversations around the essential question, “Why is it important to evaluate a website’s reliability?” Students then worked with partners to evaluate websites that their teachers assigned. Using laptops and desktops in the library media centers, the pairs completed checklists that reflected the components discussed.

The International Baccalaureate Learner Profile traits were incorporated throughout the experience, as students were encouraged to be open-minded, inquirers, knowledgeable, communicators, etc. They discovered for themselves that the provided websites were dependable, and each class came back together after the activity to reflect on their findings.

Using the Internet and books in a safe and comprehensive way is part of the SPIRIT program’s 21st-century experiences. Later in the school year, the SPIRIT classes will learn about plagiarism prevention and practice using APA citations.

SPIRIT stands for Specialized Program Integrated Research, IB Principles and Technology, and prompts students to become reflective, communicators, knowledgeable, risk-takers, thinkers, inquirers, principled, open-minded and well-rounded. It follows a guided inquiry approach that begins with central focus questions for each lesson, and supports the concepts that are emphasized in the later grades. Students in the different schools are able to interact with one another through Google resources as they take on team challenges.