Devorah Heitner Holds Workshops with 5th Graders

During Integrated Learning and Information Science (ILIS) classes on December 1, 5th grade students worked with Dr. Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World. Heitner and the students talked about different aspects of digital communication, and students worked on rapid-prototyping apps to help them and the adults in their lives navigate the digital world, including texting, social media and healthy usage.

Several talking points emerged that influenced the 5th graders’ app designs, including: taking time away from screens when stress gets high; helping friends, siblings and ourselves to take breaks when games become intense/cause anger; helping and encouraging parents to step away from their phones/devices; and navigating texting in large group forums or one-on-one texts. Heitner and students talked about the pros of texting and the importance of non-text communication when text exchanges get heated, feel exclusive or single out individuals.

After some interactive Q&A, and discussion about these concepts, students formed groups and did rapid prototyping of apps they designed to address these concepts. The apps helped users relax, encouraged gamers to take a break, made parents put down their phones, blocked hurtful language in group texts and gossip-blocking and offered students ideas of fun activities when they’re ready to put down their devices.

Fifth graders were thoughtful and creative in their conversations and app development work with Heitner and generated great ideas for taking a break. They all left with the idea from Heitner to help them remember, “You control your device, your device does not control you.”
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.