The National Technology Education Standards (NETS) are categorized by grade levels assuming that students will vary from one another in terms of the difficulty of several tasks; despite the age of a student, cognitive and ability skills do not develop at the exact same rate in every individual human being.
Therefore, ISTE puts these general standards for students:
- Communication and collaboration
- Research and information fluency
- Critical thinking, problem solving, and choice making
- Tech concepts and operations
- Digital citizenship
A sixth grade student is barely leaving the elementary school age. In psychosocial language, this means that the student is ending the "Industry vs. Inferiority" phase and is about to enter the "Identity vs. Role Confusion" stage. This stage entails social development among peers, wanting to seek identity among them, having a role to play, and the need for company for self-assurance.
This is extremely important to consider because this means that the most challenging area for a 6th grade student will be digital citizenship. This requirement is the hardest because it involves:
- appropriate online vocabulary
- critical thinking when sending emails to other people
- knowing what is allowed and not allowed to be accessed online
- respecting the opinions of others who also "vent" in the internet.
- using the computer for academic purposes
- knowing the difference from a good source from a bad source
Students who have good maneuver of computer applications and coding, research, and other skills are the most prone to hack onto other people's emails, steal passwords, harass and bully via e-mail or text messages, tamper with the reputation of fellow students online, enter inappropriate websites and even create viruses.
Those who are not very knowledgeable of the computer might learn from social learning from the most knowledgeable others how to do these very things in order to "fit in". Therefore, the peer pressure that comes at this age may make a student more prone to be a good digital citizen. It is just too tempting for them not to at least try to attempt.
If digital citizenship is not a problem, then research and information fluency would be the hardest. This is because students of this age group (11-13) want instant information and repeating what they read without analyzing it. Therefore, the teacher should have a series of steps in place, place them in a rubric, and have the students check off the step as they complete it.
A sample research rubric would include these steps:
- Enter keywords on the search bar. Write down keywords used.
- Identify from the first five results which are ads, which are blogs, which are academically valid, and which are opinions.
- Write down the top three sites that are objective, impartial, and academic. (Sites ending in .edu have priority). Use the http:// format when writing web addresses.
- Open the first site and state where it originates from. (Ex: APA, a college/university, an author's webpage, etc)
- Explore the site and find answers to the research questions.
- Remember to paraphrase and analyze using your own voice.
- Repeat the process with the next two sites.
Students must understand that answers do not just "pop up" and that the Net is a very uncertain place. Having patience, and a rubric for self-assessment could be the best way to wean them off that habit.