Thursday, March 13, 2014

Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship

This week my fifth graders were on a field trip so I ended up with an extra planning period. I decided to use that time to work on my application for Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Certification.

The application asks for documentation of how you have shared about the curriculum with the teachers at your school. I realized that I had done that, but I had not shared it clearly enough on my blog.  This post is not an application requirement. I’m not getting paid to post this. I just really think that digital citizenship is important, and I think Common Sense Media does a great job of giving teachers the free tools they need to do just that.

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A friend shared a Common Sense Media newsletter with me last spring. She suggested that I sign up. Once I looked around the site, I fell in love with their K-12 digital citizenship curriculum. I remember being at a conference years ago talking about these same digital citizenship skills that no one is teaching. Who owns this? I decided that the STEAM Lab was the perfect place for digital citizenship.

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My learning goal for my class this year is based on the ELA technology standard for each grade level. I use the elements of STEAM to teach that standard. Each of these lessons is linked to other ELA standards as well.

I was a little overwhelmed last fall so I decided to just teach the lessons as written. There were a few plans that I taught with low expectations. I was shocked at how much they enjoyed it! We had AMAZING conversations. I was surprised how many of our elementary students were I honestly felt like these lessons made a difference. It changed the way many of my students thought about their digital lives. From keyword searches to cyberbullying to copyright issues, these topics are part of our world today.

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I started by printing the entire K-2 curriculum and the 3-5 curriculum. I keep them in a binder so that I have originals to make copies. I did not follow the scope and sequence, but picked the lessons that matched what I had going on. Days I was relocated to the Media Center due to construction in my classroom we did Digital Passport lessons on the library computer. On the other hand when I did not have access to computers, I decided to wait to do the keywords lesson.

Funny enough, I taught most of these lessons before I had computers in my room. They are designed to be as low tech or as high tech as you want/need them to be. One computer with a projector was perfect to guide discussions.

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If you do have access to more, the Digital Passport is a website from Common Sense Media for grades 3-5. My students loved these games. The Twalkers game is the best I have ever seen for explaining the dangers of driving (or walking) while texting.  You should try it yourself. They have also released an iBooks version of the curriculum I plan to use in the fall.

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The resources available make it idiot proof. They have included everything you need – videos, handouts, extension ideas, computer games to reinforce, and more. There are even resources for sharing with parents or other teachers.  It is well worth signing up and exploring these free resources.

* The pictures in the post were from a bulletin board display we did for digital citizenship week. My 3-5 students each created a Twitter strip with a tip or something they had learned about digital citizenship.


  1. Thanks for sharing this website and program! My school's technology committee is discussing ways to teach digital citizenship.
    A Tall Drink of Water

  2. I have used Common Sense Media a lot. I ran into it when I was doing my Bring Your Own Device course. I need to go ahead and do the certification. About how long has it taken you to go through it?
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  3. Thank you a million times over for posting this. As we get more and more technology in the classroom and my students get GAFE accounts I really need to up my game in teaching about digital citizenship. Did I say thank you yet : )