Positive Online Presence

[If you are an educator interested in implementing a POP project at your school, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sandra Cortesi.]

The POP (Positive Online Presence) project started a collaborative initiative between Youth and Media and the Buckingham Browne & Nichols Middle School (project led by BB&N’s Mary Dolbear [Middle School Director] and Svetlana Grinshpan [Academic Technology Specialist]) in Cambridge.

The main idea was to:

  • Work with POP advisors (a small, carefully selected group of students) to design and develop “Internet Units”: student-led workshops or presentations for the 7th and 8th grade students that discuss topics such as digital literacy, social media, information quality, privacy, cyberbullying, copyright, etc.
  • Develop and promote thoughtful student voice and input (through the POP Advisors) in creating Middle School norms and expectations around the use of technology. POP advisors provided feedback and shaped some of the Middle School’s rules and norms about technology through discussions and/or collaborative outputs.

The key aim was to stay at the forefront of understanding the ways that middle school students interact with digital media, including the Internet, laptops/tablets, cell phones, and video games POP and to collaboratively (YaM team, students, administrators, and parents) explore the revolutionary creative and educational possibilities for youth in digital spaces while acknowledging and addressing the genuine concerns that come with living life online.

Through a series of activities, the POP advisors developed workshops around four themes (research and collaboration, phone Usage, social media: tech, and social media: norms and behavior) as well as a list of thoughtful ideas, meant as basis for discussion for peers, teachers, school administrators, and parents.

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Relevant links and materials:

  • Wonderful blog post written by Betsy Canaday (teacher and Chair of Middle School English Department at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School) about the importance of the POP project for the school.

The Middle School will be a better place because of the POP program. Because students will have had an integral voice in shaping the norms and guidelines around technology usage, everyone in the building will experience the impact of this program every day. Perhaps of equal importance is the fulfillment of our mission to foster leadership skills in our students. Dolbear sees the benefits to the students already. “Nurturing student leadership is inspiring and critical to a healthy school culture. We already have a number of ways in which students contribute and lead in both formal and informal ways within our community, but this initiative is different. It is a significant and ongoing time commitment from our students, and it’s real work.”