Digital Citizenship through Dystopian Literature

I enjoyed attending Dr. Kristen Mattson’s presentation on Digital Citizenship through Dystopian Literature. Teaching digital citizenship can be tough, especially when we as librarians are expected to find time between every other thing we do. If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s just one of those things that fits in between everything else. Just a stand-alone lesson.  

As we were walking in, Dr. Mattson encouraged us to interact with those around us. This was important for later, she said, as we would be interacting during the later part of the session. The room started to buzz with chatter as librarians introduced each other and conversed.

Dr. Mattson began the session by introducing herself, her research related to digital citizenship, and the basis of her new business, The DigCit Doctors, which she founded with colleague Dr. LeeAnn Lindsey.  Then, she discussed what educators were telling her relating to digital citizenship.

Digital Citizenship definition

Digital Citizenship definition

Educators, and not just librarians but classroom teachers as well, were telling Dr. Mattson and Dr. Lindsey several things:

  • They know digital citizenship is important, but they don’t know what to teach
  • They were never taught digital citizenship when going through their coursework
  • Lessons are not grade-level specific
  • Lessons are superficial in nature

This makes complete sense to me: when I try to teach digital citizenship lessons, I always feel like I am being thrown in randomly throughout the day, and they are really not pertinent to what the learners really need. And, as a high school librarian, I sometimes feel like I’m rehashing things that they have been told over and over instead of working with them on educating them on information they need in this digital world today.

standards the framework aligns to

The various standards the framework aligns to.

Dr. Mattson then introduced us to the new resource: The website has a whole curricular framework on digital citizenship around four standards: Digital Safety, Media & Information Literacy, Digital Well-Being, and Social Responsibility. The framework defines the standards through “enduring understandings.” They are concepts that are focal to the learners and their lives. The enduring understandings are divided by grade-level indicators: PreK-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12. There are sample guiding questions for those same grade levels. The framework also aligns to a number of standards.

After giving us a few moments to view the PDF, which is free on the site, and to discuss it with our neighbors, we then went into the “how” part of the session: using literature, specifically dystopian literature, to connect digital citizenship. She shared with us a link ( to several different types of literature: short stories, and poems, discussed a bit about each, and then how would connect to each enduring understanding and types of discussions that could come out of it.  

One of the last things we did was a crowdsourced Padlet, collecting ideas of different books, short stories, poetry, documentaries, graphic novels, and picture books that would be good to use for future lessons. The Padlet is available for anyone to view.

This session, to paraphrase the librarian sitting next to me, is the type of session that was worth the money spent to come here. I know I am bringing back a lot of ideas to my school and already have a draft to one of my ELA teachers sitting in my email. Check out Dr. Mattson’s resources at, and follow her on Twitter @DrKMattson, and her shared account at @DigCitDoctors. I know that she will have a lot more to offer in the future on this topic.


Author: Jamie A. Becker

Jamie A. Becker is the Teacher-Librarian at Wright City High School in Wright City, Missouri. Now in her seventh year, she continues to challenge and grow what the Library Commons means for WCHS. She is also a second year Ph.D student at Emporia State University studying Library and Information Management. In what little spare time she has, Jamie can be found teaching color guard, researching her family lineage, or photographing her teenager’s high school marching band events. She was a 2020-2021 ALA Emerging Leader. Follow Jamie on Twitter @LibrarianofNote

Categories: AASL National Conference, Community

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