The digital citizenship curriculum is not only extremely important, but also incredibly relevant to the learning environment. It is important because, with the rapid increase of social media and digital tools, we are constantly “connected” both in the classroom and at home. The digital world allows for deeper opportunities for learning, communicating, collaborating, and creating, but the stakes are high if used inappropriately. It is vital that we address respectful, responsible, and safe online behavior so that we can fully take advantage of the increase in available technology. The digital citizenship curriculum is also very relevant because teaching students about empathy, respect, safety/protection, ethics and morals are important lessons for any environment. Ultimately, teaching about digital citizenship strengthens our online world, but also greatly benefits our physical spaces.
This year I’ve had the opportunity to use curriculum from Common Sense Media to teach my ninth grade students about digital citizenship and to ultimately become a digitally certified instructor. Using this curriculum, and their affiliated sites like Digital Bytes and Graphite, I taught a variety of lessons and worked with staff to implement this instruction into the school.
To start the year, my entire school dedicated a day to digital citizenship instruction, where we taught the Scope & Sequence lessons to all students. These lessons covered a variety of topics (shown in the image below). What I particularly appreciated was that each lesson offered modifications for teachers depending on technology availability and included lesson extensions or additional resources to make it easy to continue the learning. The lessons are also “scripted” enough so anyone can use them, but they are also open enough to be easy to personalize.
Digital Citizenship Topics
To continue this instruction, I recently introduced students to Common Sense Media’s Digital Bytes site. This is a self-guided site which allows students to interact with others on the various topics and to explore essential questions relating to digital citizenship. As the questions were very relevant to students’ lives, they were very engaged with this site and it was not at all difficult to keep them on task! Included below is an assignment I had students complete as they navigated Digital Bytes, so I could record the responses which they also posted to the site.
Digital Bytes Assignment – Sample of Student Work
After exploring Digital Bytes, students worked to create symbols that represent aspects of digital citizenship (Thanks Ann Hayes Bell for the idea!!). This lesson was great for my English classroom as it built off of our prior learning about symbolism in literature. Our plan is to use the symbols to create a bulletin or poster to display across the school at the start of next year.
Digital Citizenship Symbols Assignment
Moving forward, I definitely plan on continuing to embed digital citizenship instruction into my classroom. As stated previously, the discussion topics and issues are so relevant to students’ lives and can easily apply to the core subject curriculum. I’m eager to see how students use their learning about digital citizenship to shape their digital lives!
Curious what Digital Bytes is all about? (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://digitalbytes.commonsensemedia.org/
Hayes Bell, A. (n.d.). Communicate. Collaborate. Create. Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://annhayesbell.org/
InCtrl. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://www.teachinctrl.org/
K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum | Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digital-citizenship