The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Digital Citizenship

An ongoing conversation in my classroom, in my building, in my district, and, really, across the country, has been revolving around the concept of digital citizenship. We spend so much time teaching our students about being good citizens in their day-to-day activities, treating others with respect, thinking of ideas of equity, justice, and fairness, and making positive contributions to society. However, these principles often are not transferred into the digital forum. Every person I know can think of an instance (or hundreds of instances) of individuals treating others online with extreme disrespect.

As an educator, I am very concerned about my students’ lives outside my classroom, Am I giving them the tools and skills they need to successfully navigate all parts of life. Over the past several months, I have been researching options for promoting positive digital citizenship. One resource I have come back to time and time again is Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship curriculum.

Common Sense Media, according to their website, is a group dedicated to “helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. [They] empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.” After going through training and checking out their materials, I feel that their claim is accurate and their tools really do help me help my students use digital media safely and effectively. I am in the process of being officially certified as a Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Educator.

Before going on, I feel like I should once again make the same kind of disclaimer I have made before: nobody at Common Sense Media has asked me to write this post. I am not getting paid to use their programs, nor will I be paid to become certified under their program. I will let them know, via Twitter, that I have written this post.

One of the requirements of the CSM certification process is to actually use their resources in my classroom. I decided to harness the power of my Chromebooks by using the Digital Passport modules to teach my students digital citizenship concepts about privacy, cyberbullying, communication, creative credit (copyright), and appropriate searches. I set up my class account, which took about 5 minutes because I already had a CSV file that worked for Digital Passport from other online learning tools, and then had my students start with the Privacy: Share Jumper module this morning.

While the students learned about appropriate (and inappropriate) online sharing, I was able to monitor their progress and offer insights. There are “wrap-around” activities I will use once they have all finished the module, including an information letter for families to let them know what their students have learned.

As with most online learning tools, Digital Passport is designed to be engaging and interactive. I love how it guides students and explains to them when the options they selected were incorrect, instead of just telling them that it was wrong.

We will continue to work through the the modules over the next week or so, giving each of my students ample opportunity to build their capacity to interact with others appropriately, both online and off.



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