Digital Citizenship

Teaching Digital Citizenship

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As a teacher, you know when something catches your eye and you take the second to jot it down on a sticky note (yes, a sticky note because most teachers love all those office supplies – sticky notes, cute paperclips, and colored pens. You can never have enough colored pens). Or perhaps you’re a bit more sophisticated and you keep track of an electronic to-do list on your smartphone or personal device. But then the sticky note gets lost, or the idea you heard of a while back slips to the back of your mind in the business of the day. Well, that happened to me recently. I had heard about several new and free digital citizenship curriculums online. I was excited to check them out, knowing that this could be an excellent resource for the teachers at my school. However, as usual, life got in the way and I found myself pushing that item on my to-do list to the back to make room for other priorities. So when I was told I needed to attend a conference or webinar for my master’s class, I found it the perfect opportunity to finally have the motivation to search out more content on digital citizenship curriculum. I discovered a webinar on produced by Common Sense Education showcasing their new and improved digital citizenship curriculum for K-12 schools.

If you haven’t heard of Common Sense Education, it’s definitely a resource every teacher should know about. Resurface that sticky note and make it a priority! Common Sense Education is a non-profit organization that has created a free digital citizenship curriculum for K-12 students based on research from Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education. They define a digital citizen as someone “who uses technology responsibly to learn, create, and participate.” Their curriculum focuses on 6 different topics:

  • Media Balance and Well-Being
  • Privacy and Security
  • Digital Footprint and Identity
  • Relationships and Communication
  • Cyberbullying, Digital Drama and Hate Speech
  • News and Media Literacy

Their lessons have a good range of activities that include student videos, conversation starters, lesson quizzes, interactive games, and home connection tips. Plus, they’re available in English or Spanish! All of their resources are also easily downloaded and can be customized to fit your classroom’s needs. The curriculum encourages students to think past themselves and reflect on how their choices impact others. Each lesson focuses on one or more of their core dispositions, such as slowing down and reflecting, considering facts and evidence, and taking action (just to name a few).

I found myself listening to the webinar and nodding my head in agreement. The topics they cover are real and right at the heartbeat of what’s happening in our classrooms. Our digitally native students need help navigating in a digital world. They need time and space to have these conversations and start to understand complex issues like how we need to find a balance in our digital lives and know how our data is being tracked and used for marketing purposes. A lot of these topics have already been themes in my master’s class, and I was impressed to see them at an age-appropriate level for K-12 students. If you are an educator who’s trying to incorporate ISTE technology standards, then Common Sense Education’s digital citizenship is a great resource for you as their lessons are directly aligned and standards listed for each lesson.

I am excited to share this resource with teachers on campus and work with our school’s leadership team on how we could incorporate Common Sense Education’s curriculum school-wide. In my opinion, after perusing their website more and looking over some lessons, I think their digital citizenship curriculum looks engaging, relevant, and is so needed in our classrooms! I would encourage you to check it out.


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