Digital Citizenship Materials From Common Sense Media

While we may not be technology or computer science teachers, the fact of the matter is that most of us probably require students to use technology in one way or another. As an example, my students make videos, create audio recordings, participate in online discussions, view content online, and use an LMS not only to check on homework assignments, but also to submit assignments, view feedback, interact with classmates, and check grades. Even at schools that are not 1-to-1, teachers and students typically still rely on technology some of the time, and that is what makes digital citizenship such an important topic.

As I mentioned a very long time ago when talking about Graphite, Common Sense Media is a great site that has a ton of resources and information related to the ways in which education, media, and technology intersect, which is why I want to highlight it again. The educators section alone is impressive and has more specialized information for those of us in education. Today, I am just going to focus on what is available in the Digital Citizenship tab.

When you click on the Digital Citizenship tab, the title K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum greets you, but do not let that discourage you from going further if you teach adults, because much of the content is relevant for that age group as well. Along the left-hand side of the window, you will see that Scope & Sequence, Student Interactives, Certification Program, Professional Development, Videos, Classroom Posters, and Toolkits are the main categories. We will take a quick look at each of them.

Scope & Sequence

In this section, view the topics covered in units for K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12. The handy chart shows this information clearly as do the tabs below. Since I teach in an academic English program that prepares international students to study at the undergraduate level, I clicked on the 9–12 tab. I browsed through other tabs, too, but felt that this one was probably the most appropriate. Rather than committing to teach a whole unit, I pulled out Copyrights and Wrong from Unit 1 to help students understand what they can and cannot do when putting together papers and presentations. I also noticed that Feeling on Display from Unit 1 might make a good addition to a reading unit from our textbook about photography and College Bound from Unit 3, which covers the impact of how what students do online can impact their futures, for example when it comes to college admission. Just click on the units to see the materials, how they align with the Common Core, and know that there are full unit assessments available, too!

Student Interactives

When you click on this topic, you are redirected to another page with even more tabs, but the most interesting one is Student. Depending on the age of your students, you can recommend that they try out Digital Passport, Digital Compass, or Digital Bytes. Digital Passport is for third through fifth graders and is full of videos and games to help them engage with concepts, for example copyright, and practices (e.g., creating strong passwords) related to digital citizenship. Digital Compass is designed for middle schoolers. Essentially, you choose a character and play through a storyline to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects of digital citizenship. Finally, Digital Bytes is designed for high school students, but could easily be used with adults, too. It uses what students are interested in to deliver engaging content and then challenge students to produce and share something of their own.

Certification Program & Professional Development

These two categories both have information worth exploring if digital citizenship is a topic you, your school, or your district would like to really delve into. I will actually be looking into the professional development offerings through Common Sense Media later on this year, so look for that sometime in May.

Videos, Classroom Posters, & Toolkits

Finally, these three sections serve up even more resources you can use to educate yourself and/or your students. There are videos for every age level on topics such as social media and body image and also videos of lessons and teaching strategies that you could use in your own classroom. The classroom posters are high quality and cover topics like oversharing information online and how to treat your digital devices. On the toolkits page, there are currently three toolkits covering E-rates, cyberbullying, and gender and digital life. Each toolkit has multiple lessons including readings and videos for four different groups including parents.

As you can see, Common Sense Media has so much to offer. If you have only been using Graphite so far, now is the time to check out everything else that is available and see what you can do with it.

How do you teach digital citizenship to your students?

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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