Developing Norms and Expectations for Digital Tool Use

Students need explicit norms and expectations when using technology inside and outside of the classroom
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About This Strategy

It is important to develop safe, responsible, and healthy habits as students engage with educational technology tools in and outside of the classroom.  If you develop norms and expectations for digital usage, students will be more engaged, productive, and safe as they interact with technology in the classroom. Creating shared expectations allows the students to have a say in the norms and expectations along with the consequences when expectations are not met.  This empowers students to have a voice in the setting of norms and expectations which increases student motivation to follow the norms and expectations.

Implementation Steps

  1. Engage students in a class discussion about the norms and expectations that should be established around technology usage using the Digital Norms and Expectations Prompts document found in the resources section below. The Blended Learning Classroom Discussion video, linked in the resources section below, is a great example of a classroom discussion about setting up norms and expectations for digital usage. 

    • Explicitly distinguish between norms and expectations either verbally or visually as you write out the norms and expectations on an anchor chart or document. It is important to remember that:

      • A norm is something that is usually universally understood, but may need to be explicitly taught to students to ensure their awareness.  

      • An expectation is something that the teacher expects of the students that may go beyond a typical norm.  

  2. Write down the students' suggestions as they share them with the class. To encourage 100% participation from all students, the teacher can utilize a technology tool like Padlet and/or Poll Everywhere to gather responses from all students. 

  3. Write down additional suggestions for expectations and norms shared by the teacher.

  4. Organize the students' and teacher's suggestions for technology usage norms and expectations to create a visually organized anchor chart.  The Digital Norms and Expectations document, linked in the resources section below, provides a sample list of norms and expectations for both independent and partner work. This document also includes examples of how to actively engage with digital learning. Some tips of how to organize the final list of norms and expectations include: 

    • Organize the norms and expectations into two columns: Looks Like and Sounds Like.

    • Organize the norms and expectations into a few main categories (for example: safe, respectful, and responsible).

    • Keep the wording simple.

    • Include clip art or images as visual supports. 

  5. The norms and expectations should be shared and displayed in a place in the physical or virtual classroom that is visually accessible to students.  

  6. Revisit and reteach the norms and expectations frequently throughout the school year.  A few ways to reteach, revisit, and reflect on the technology norms and expectations include: 

    • Self-Assessments: The teacher can create a self assessment using a template similar to the Digital Norms and Expectations Self-Assessment (Thumbs Up/Down) document linked in the resources. Self-Assessments allow students to first reflect on their progress specific to each digital usage norm or expectation, and to gather teacher feedback as well.  

    • Surveys: A survey can be a great tool for teachers to use to encourage students to self-assess, and provide feedback, on the digital norms and expectations.  

    • Rubrics: A rubric would specifically outline what successful implementation of the digital norms and expectations would look like. The teacher should incorporate the digital norms and expectations into rubrics for assignments that utilize technology and digital usage.  

    • Videos: The teacher can record a video (Loom, Screencastify, Flipgrid, etc.) that explicitly teaches the norms and expectations. This video can be used as a reteach tool based on the needs of the students, and when new students join the class.  

  7. Provide students with frequent feedback on their implementation of the norms and expectations as they are engaging with technology.  The Digital Norms and Expectations Self-Assessment (Thumbs Up/Down) document linked in the resources section below is an example of a tool that can be used for students to self-assess and teachers to provide feedback on the digital norms and expectations.

Software Login Management

Students need a simple and effective method for accessing their login information for technology tools and/or website logins.  Teachers will also benefit from having an organized system in which they can easily access and update student login information throughout the school year.  

Implementation steps:

  1. Create a template to keep a record of student login information.  An editable template will work best as more technology applications will most likely be added throughout a typical school year. The Student Login Template document linked in the resources section below is a sample template that could be used for this purpose. The Learning Accelerator: Login Management System resource linked in the resources section below also provides a sample template to use for students to keep track of all of their login information on one document.  

  2. Keep the student login information cards in a general location that students can access as needed.  Students can also be responsible for their own login information based on the age of the students.  

  3. Establish procedures for students to access their login information as needed.  

  4. Engage students in a class discussion about the importance of confidentiality and privacy when it comes to individual login information. The following questions can be used to guide the discussion: 

    • What actions can we take to ensure our login information remains private?

    • Why is it important to login to websites or apps with our own login credentials?

    • What should you do if you misplace or lose your login information card?

    • What should you do if you are having trouble logging into a website or app with the given login information?

Norms and Expectations for Online Distance Learning

As teachers develop norms and expectations for digital usage in the classroom, it is also important to develop safe, responsible, and healthy habits as students engage with educational technology tools at home via online distance learning. By developing norms and expectations for digital usage, students will be more engaged, productive, and safe as they interact with their teacher, classmates, and online content from home. 

Implementation steps:

  1. Engage students in an online class discussion about the norms and expectations that should be established around technology usage for distance learning using the Distance Learning Norms and Expectations Prompts document found in the resources section below. This classroom discussion can be completed with a digital tool like Padlet, Poll Everywhere, NearPod Collaborate, or Google Forms.
  2. Write down the students' suggestions as they share them with the class.  To encourage 100% participation from all students, the teacher can utilize a technology tool like Padlet and/or Poll Everywhere to gather responses from all students. Include additional suggestions for distance learning expectations and norms shared by the teacher and/or campus administrators.
  3. Organize the students' and teacher's suggestions for distance learning norms and expectations to create a visually organized digital anchor chart. Use Google Slides, a Word document, or a Google Doc, exported as a pdf. file, to create an anchor chart that the students can access digitally. The Distance Learning Norms and Expectations document, linked in the resources section below, provides a sample list of norms and expectations for distance learning.  
  4. Revisit and reteach the norms and expectations for distance learning before every video conference meeting. Include the distance learning norms and procedures in the introduction to assignments and within rubrics for assignments. If using a digital classroom platform, like Google Classroom, upload the digital anchor chart so that students can access and open the file easily. The teacher can record a video (Loom, Screencastify, Flipgrid, etc.) that explicitly teaches the distance learning norms and expectations. This video can be used as a reteach tool based on the needs of the students, and when new students join the class. 

Tech Tools Scavenger Hunt

In this strategy, groups of students engage in a guided scavenger hunt to understand the features and capabilities of an online resource or tool.  This is a great way for students to model the digital usage norms and expectations with a specific online resource or tool.  

Implementation steps:

  1. Determine the online tool or resource that the teacher is wanting the students to learn about. Students can explore the major features of the tool or website to familiarize themselves with how it works.
  2. Organize the scavenger hunt and create any resources students may need. See the document titled: iReady Scavenger Hunt, linked in the resources section below, for example scavenger hunt worksheet that students might use for a tech tool scavenger hunt.
  3. Set up expectations and instructions for the scavenger hunt.  Will students complete the scavenger hunt individually, in partners, or in groups?
  4. While students complete the scavenger hunt, monitor and provide feedback to each student or group. As you monitor the students, you can check their progress and support students as necessary if they get stuck.
  5. At the end of the scavenger hunt, save time for students to come back together and share what they learned with the whole class or with another group. Also reserve time to reflect on the scavenger hunt practice with students.
  6. Review and revise the digital usage norms and expectations based on the new technology tool or website that students were exploring within this scavenger hunt activity. 

EL Modification

  • As the norms and expectations are set up for digital usage, the teacher can include clip art and/or visuals to support English Learners. 

  • As students are reflecting on their implementation of the digital usage norms and expectations, provide English Learners with sentence stems as a tool to reflect on their learning in complete sentences.  

  • Pre-teach challenging vocabulary words that are written within the digital usage norms and expectations.  

  • Whenever possible, provide English Learners with a translated version of the digital norms and expectations in their native language. This is especially important for the families, parents, and/or guardians of our English language learner students in order for them to have the opportunity to access the norms and expectations in their native language. 

Special Education Modification

When setting up norms and expectations for digital usage, the teacher can consider including individual expectations and norms for students with individualized education plan goals. The SPED Digital Norms and Expectations Self-Assessment (Thumbs Up/Down), linked in the resources section below, includes a designated space for the teacher to incorporate, and provide feedback on, individual norms and expectations for students with individualized education plan goals. 

Questions to Consider

  • When will you develop the expectations with students? 

  • When will you have students model the expectations?

  • How will you provide feedback to students about how they are implementing the expectations?

  • How will you monitor and assess students' implementation of the expectations?

  • How long will you review the expectations before students know and are able to use them?

  • How will you share this information with new students when they arrive?

Coach Tips

Kathleen Rockefeller
BetterLesson Instructional Coach
  • Explicitly teaching, modeling, and providing feedback are essential components when setting up expectations for any aspect of the classroom environment.  It is important to create an action plan on how each of these components will be addressed.  

  • As students engage in independent and teacher-led online learning activities, technology issues will arise for the students.  The teacher can set up a procedure for students to use to report and troubleshoot technology issues without disturbing instruction and learning.  The issue can sometimes be fixed by simply replacing the device, or the issue may require immediate teacher assistance. Setting up a protocol or procedure will help students to know exactly what to do as issues arise.

Tech Tools

Padlet

  • Padlet is a digital corkboard type tool that students can use to gather information or reflections. Teachers can easily access each students’ Padlet with a shared link. 

  • Teachers can use padlet to have students record their suggestions for digital norms and expectations, and to organize students' suggestions.

PollEverywhere

  • Poll Everywhere is an online tool that enables immediate interactive polling. Teachers can utilize different polling structures using a specific prompt. Poll Everywhere enables live audience participation while immediate aggregating data that can be projected to the class.

  • Teachers can use this tech tool to survey students on whether they agree with a new norm or expectation, and/or to poll the class after an activity to see if they believe they met the expectations and norms for the digital task.

Related Lessons

  • Explore the Blended Learning Time-Keepers lesson by third grade math teacher Freddy Esparza included in the resources below to see how students can track the time it takes to begin working on an online learning assignment in order to increase urgency.

  • Explore the Blended Learning Self-Monitoring lesson by third grade math teacher Freddy Esparza included in the resources below to see how students can debrief and reflect on how the online learning activity went each day.