Fossils and Footprints

This week we will begin a new unit of study in second grade – Non-fiction reading and writing. The students will be reading books about dinosaurs and choosing a topic related to dinosaurs to research and share with the others in the class. One of the activities the students will be doing is to learn what a paleontologist does. How does one find fossils and traces that have been left by those “terrible lizards?” A favorite activity is to dig the fossils out of a cookie.(If I understood computer cookies better, I believe I might actually be making a pun, but that wasn’t the intent.)

M&M oatmeal chocolate chunk fossil cookies

As I was preparing the cookies, they’ll dig into later this week, I was thinking about my digital footprint. The cookie begins with lots of different ingredients; butter, flour, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, sugar, milk, oatmeal, M&M’s, and chocolate candy. Some of these are fine by themselves, M&M’s, milk, and chocolate candy. Some are good when added to something or cooked and all of them together create a fun and delicious treat.

I have had a computer and Facebook account for a few years. In the last 2 months I have added Diigo, a blog, Flickr and Twitter.(I’m still getting the hang of some of these, but I’m continuing to learn.) The computer I could use without any of those internet applications. I could email, listen to music, do searches, write papers, buy items online, etc. Some of those would leave a shadow – I get reminders to buy gifts from several companies and new book publications from Amazon, nothing terribly important and nothing noteworthy. However, by posting, creating, and sharing on various forums I am creating my digital footprint.

Does it matter? Is it important? Most definitely. One interesting article about your online reputation.

I have no plans to leave my current school or use my digital foot print to help me in a job search in the near or distant future. However, I need to understand what it is and be able to teach my students and help my colleagues understand about a digital footprint. When someone does a search of my name, I want to be sure they will find items I am proud of and am comfortable sharing with others. It is important we teach students from an early age about responsible digital citizenship. Commonsense media has great resources and ideas for parents and teachers. Students need to understand that just like the dinosaurs who lived long ago and left fossils and traces to help us understand how they lived we leave traces with each photo, comment or post we create.

What will an investigator find? That can be up to chance or I can create the image I want.

5 thoughts on “Fossils and Footprints

  1. I’m glad that you recognize the importance of having a positive digital footprint, even if the benefits are not always immediately apparent. While this is obviously a helpful thing to have for job searches, being relevant and accessible online means that you can potentially connect with a host of similarly-minded educators. Great post, and I now have a craving for some chocolate chip cookies!

    • I know that I am connecting to a host of “similarly-minded educators” and that is very encouraging. About 2 years ago I joined LinkedIn but never followed up. Yesterday I got a new password and connected to a group of people who have been sending me requests for the last year or more. The more connections I make, the more I continue to refine my craft as an educator. My students really enjoyed the cookies and digging out the fossils.

  2. Hi Jean, I, too, enjoyed this post and the metaphor of digging down in to find something of value in ‘your’ cookies. You were right with the pun potential with that since the sites you visit leave cookies in your computer. Now that I think about it, I wish your site left cookies in my computer, fossils and all.

    What struck me again reading your post is how important it is to help our students learn the skills and awarenesses necessary to create a positive digital presence. Not that I would change your lesson in the slightest but it occurred to me that your students would already have an awareness of physical history and leaving traces. I t would be very natural and concrete to link in a digital citizenship component to that lesson to consider how those same principles apply online as well. Thanks for this post!

    • Thank you Adam. It is an ongoing process and I know that the students are getting it bit by bit, my concern is how do we help parents understand. I am starting with “Technology Tidbits” a 30 minute conversation with parents about technology we are using in the elementary school. My first one will be on Jan 24. Hopefully there will be parents from various classes that can help to get the information out to other parents. The first one will be on the blogs all of the elementary classrooms are using. I’m trying to decide on a good topic for February. I guess internet safety is always a good one.

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