GNS has officially kicked off our partnership with The Social Institute
(TSI), an online learning platform that empowers students to navigate the social world (both in person and online). Through this partnership, our school will be adopting TSI’s comprehensive program for our students in Grades 4 through 8 called ‘#winatsocial.’ This program promotes character, empathy, teamwork and other essential life skills.
I first came across TSI at the US National Association of Independent Schools conference in Los Angeles. The session I attended focused on social-emotional learning and digital citizenship in students. It’s something I feel that is a major theme that comes up constantly as a challenge for students ranging from Grade 4 through to high school and beyond, as they learn how to navigate social media and healthy relationships online and in-person.
One of the great things about the #winatsocial program is its positive approach; often, when it comes to digital citizenship and social media, a lot of what we hear is negative, with a ‘don’t do this’ approach that doesn’t resonate well with students. This program shows students how they can leverage social media and digital citizenship in order to enhance their relationships.
The program launched at GNS on February 15 with an introductory lesson. In the Middle School, there is a natural fit within student schedules where we can use time in their homeform and advisory blocks once a month to implement one of the lessons. At the Junior School for Grades 4 to 5, our Counsellor Mrs. Lara Feldman and Educational Technologist Ms. Megan Durovick will be assisting in its implementation.
Social media is not going away, and relationships for students, especially Middle School students, are increasingly facilitated through this medium. While I think there is nothing more valuable than in-person, face-to-face offline conversations, we do bear some responsibility as educators to make sure they are equipped to navigate the increasingly online world in which they live.
The #winatsocial program looks fantastic, with a dynamic curriculum that is anchored by The Social Institutes “Seven Social Standards.:
There is one lesson at each grade level for each social standard. The program helps students in a positive way moving forward through social media, digital citizenship and social-emotional learning. Soon the students will take part in the Cyberback lesson, which focuses on having each others’ backs and supporting each other.
Teachers and parents are keen to have a working knowledge and unified philosophical approach towards digital citizenship. Another amazing facet of the #winatsocial program is that it also educates families and parents and gives them opportunities to follow up and reinforce messaging at home. After each lesson, family huddle questions will be sent home to help facilitate conversations about the learning. There is also a parent toolkit
to learn about the latest social media apps.
The whole approach is going to be fun for the students, as we will take a gamified approach to learning that has been tested by thousands of students across North America. One of the most exciting things we look forward to is the continued partnership between teachers, students and families at home. Making sure everyone has access to the tools needed, and a common language and understanding is key to helping our students meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.