Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Digital Health and Wellness: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach

These are my notes from the breakout session “Digital Health and Wellness: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach” at the 2018 ATLIS Conference in Washington D.C. on April 16, 2018. Presenters were by Jenni Swanson Voorhees (@jsvoorhees), Richard Griffith (@doctorgriffith), and Angela Smith (@angelasmith21), from Sidwell Friends (@SidwellFriends). Presentation resources are available on the Google Doc linked on

Session Description: Does your digital citizenship curriculum primarily focus on preventing bad behavior? We are reframing our approach by creating a “Digital Health and Wellness” curriculum. Our team includes counselors, librarians, academic technologists, principals, and deans. Together we focus on consistent messages that are integrated into our K-12 curriculum with concepts that support positive, reflective, and healthy online behaviors.

Problem 1: Historically no one took over job responsibility for digital wellness

Problem 2: Generally issues focused on the negative

Problem 3: Many division directors / principals just dealt with these issues from a disciplinary standpoint

Problem 4: Things seem to reset as students matriculate from lower school on up, continuity

Want a process: Everyone is responsible
– Approach from positive standpoint as WELLNESS
– meeting across divisions and departments
– calling together principals, counselors, deans, academic techs, and librarians

Identified leads in each division
– those in a variety of roles with students
– agree on common language and share with colleagues
– shared responsibility across all faculty
– approach from the positive rather than the punitive initially

Also wanted to recognize our Quaker identity as a school through this
– focus on equity, justice and community

Created survey to help identify where lessons are taught K12
Created framework for curriculum: a work in progress

Promoting the positive
– thinking about who you want to be online and in person

Practicing mindfulness
– meditation
– intentionality about why and where you use technology

Creating Balance
– being intentional about time spent in the digital and non-digital world

– understanding how your identity in the real world is carried into the digtial world and always reflects who you really are

Touchpoints for K-12
– we wanted to develop consistent language across divisions
– ensure students would hear similar messages

We have a health and wellness committee
– this used to be separate from what we were doing with technology
– now we look for threads between each

Focus points:

1 Consent
– respecting the wishes of others on the playground
– when representing / posting about them online
– in personal relationships

2 Integrity and Identity
– showing up as your true self in the digital world
– understanding and taking responsibility for your actions both in F2F and online contexts

– mindfulness
intentionality about why, when, where you are using technology

These questions aren’t new, but integrating these with other departments / areas across campus may be
– awareness about how much time?
– are you modeling the things you want students to do?
– teachers, administrators, need to walk

Activity: Trade your smartphone with someone near you with the understanding they will JUST hold it and not use it!
Turn and Talk: How did it feel when you were separated from your device?
– How well did you listen?

Ideas for kids
– log screen time
– later log ‘screen free time’ and write reflection on it
– get older students to share / talk with younger students

“The Wellies” – a student group promoting health and wellness

How are we modeling tech use when adults are popping out phones to check messages during class time

Goals for a Cross-Divisional Curriculum

Connect Themes
– Faculty intentionally connect threads and themes across the years
– contexts, experiences as the school
– Great conversations about what to do when we take a photo of someone
– asking if it is ok to post it
– this is what we all do…

Book recommendation from Larry Kahn (@larrykahn)

“Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives” by David M. Levy

Discussing why if someone breaks into someone’s online account and takes coins, is that the same as a student taking something from another’s cubby

Build students’ capacity to recognize positive and negative behaviors and act appropriately in response to those behaviors

Story of how our “consent lesson” was born, from iPads in lower school and not disucssing how to use the camera / what to share

Media Literacy
– students are media literate and develop a demanding and discerning skepticism when online

Great media literacy questions to use with students from Drexel University:

1- Who created this message? Who is their audience? What is the hook? (Who is the messenger?) Who is the publisher? Who is funding that research
2- Why do I like it? (is this something that becomes a norm for me?)
3- How might people understand this message differently? Is this trying to pull me in or push me away from a message?
4- What values and attitudes / points of view are presented? Who is being omitted? Included?
5- What is the purpose of the message? Who is benefitting?

Content creation
– students create content with integrity, attending to validity, attributions and citations, and originality

We’re constantly talking about biases, both conscious and unconscious
– print and digital resources
– look at “the 8 factors” handout we have in the back
– equity in addressing sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.

5 Questions for Media Literacy by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
5 Questions for Media Literacy” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer
8 Factors to Consider by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
8 Factors to Consider” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Great book for teachers and librarians to use / read with students when teaching media literacy (perfect for 3rd / 4th grade) “Did Fleming Rescue Churchill?: A Research Puzzle” by James Cross Giblin

Nim’s Island also good book for these discussions: Girl represents herself on email to get another adult to come to the island

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French, more eco-fiction
– includes good story about problems leaving work email open, having a password that is easy to figure out

Eco Fiction is really popular now, focuses on students being the change they want to see in the world, much integrates technology

Forest World by Margarita Engle
– poachers in rain forest, trying to get indigenous rain forest, boy from US creates fake website to draw in poachers, great opportunities to discuss “is this ok to do?” and discussing values, online behavior, ethics, etc

High school books to read and discuss:
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Feed by MT Anderson

The sound of dial up internet

Value Contact
– students recognize teh value of direct contact with others

Session presentation on Prezi:


My addition: Our school is focusing on conversations and dialog about digital citizenship and the ways our screens intersect with wellness. Our website with videos, discussion questions for advisory time, resources for meetings with parents and students, is:

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