Posts Tagged ‘Common Sense Media’

I just worked with a class of first and second graders and am so impressed with them on so many levels! This was the second in a series of four visits to the class to focus on digital citizenship topics.

We used elements of two lessons from Common Sense Education. First, we talked about what a “just right” book is. The students clearly have had this discussion with their teachers. “It’s not too hard and not too easy.” “It is like riding a bike on flat ground with a few bumps, but not a steep hill to go up or down.” I asked what they thought a “just right” site or app would look like. Again, great answers. “It needs to be appropriate for kids our age” was one.

8585281546Then we used the stoplight activity from the Staying Safe Online lesson. I read some statements and they told me whether those were not okay for kids their age, be cautious, or okay. They followed up on their own, coloring in a stoplight either red, yellow, or green next to different statements about websites. They helped each other read the statements.

The teacher had added me as a co-teacher in her Google Classroom. Yes, Google Classroom with first and second graders. I created a doc with some of the sites listed in the Sites I Like lesson and used many of the guiding questions in the lesson as well. Using Classroom was a simple way to get that doc to each of them as a resource. They picked one of the sites on the list to evaluate and used the checklist from the lesson to circle a happy or sad face next to each statement. For the most part, they were able to stay focused on evaluating the websites rather than losing themselves in the content offered. We did provide extra time for a little fun play.

They loved today’s activities. I was impressed by their fluency with basic skills on Chromebooks: logging in, accessing their Google Classroom class, clicking on my doc’s link, viewing websites through an evaluative lens, and then properly closing out and shutting down.



These combined lessons focused on internet safety and information literacy. It is important to lay the foundation on these topics with younger students too. I’m fortunate to work with educators who value digital citizenship at all grade levels.


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Over the past few weeks I’ve had a few opportunities to facilitate conversations around Digital Citizenship. In addition to the great discussion and new insight from educators and parents, we also did our best to focus on the positive. Talking about Digital Citizenship, whether with adults or students, tends to go to the negative – all of the bad things that could happen or do happen. It’s time to make a shift.



I have been influenced by the positive nature of DigCitKids – a site created by a student, for students. Curran Dee is speaking nationally and engaging kids and adults in the conversation. He’s definitely got me thinking and in my work with students, I’m engaging them in this positive conversation as well.


I led an immersive session at Vita-Learn’s VermontFest conference earlier this month.Vita-Learn is Vermont’s ISTE affiliate and this is one of two conferences offered here in Vermont annually.

Near the end, participants shared their ideas for a positive approach to Digital Citizenship. Here are a few of the ideas:

  • Do a project around DigCit where students have a voice.
  • Examine current practice and consider how to end each lesson more positively
  • Build community.
  • Encourage a growth mindset toward technology with teachers and students.
  • Showcase and share positive examples with a wider audience.
  • Use the design thinking process with students and pose a question about positive technology use
  • Produce PSAs
  • Pay it forward

Parent Presentation

Last week, I had the opportunity to continue this discussion, but this time with parents in our community. I utilized many of Common Sense’s resources for parents, and we had a great conversation. There’s agreement all around that our focus should be on positive, responsible use of digital tools rather than the potentially scary or negative connotations often associated with the topic. Parents had an open mind and were eager to give and receive tips and advice about parenting in this digital age.

Putting It Into Action

Here in our schools, we’re being pro-active. Many of our classrooms Kindergarten-8th grade are integrating digital citizenship lessons, activities, or conversations into their work with students. I shared one example in this post recently. We are now in the process of applying for Digital Citizenship Certified School status and after that, we’ll strive to be Digital Citizenship Certified District. Want to do that yourself? Learn more here!

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I have long been a fan of Common Sense Media‘s resources. I encourage parents to use the site. I encourage teachers to use the site. I have the opportunity to work with various groups of students in grades K-8 in my role as the Technology Integration Specialist for our district. My focus with many of those groups and classes is on Digital Citizenship. I strongly believe in the value of educating students about the many aspects of Digital Citizenship and I also believe that it is our responsibility, in schools, to do much of that work.

Common Sense Digital CitizenshipI have utilized many of the lessons Common Sense Media offers via their Scope and Sequence. I’m incorporating the NearPod form of the lessons into my work this year. I have also used the Digital Passport application and iPad app with students. This year, as we roll out more Chromebooks to students, our middle school students are using Digital Compass to begin the conversation about Digital Citizenship with one another and their teachers.

As a result of my enthusiasm about their products and offerings, I am a Digital Citizenship Certified Educator (one of two in Vermont- come on Vermont educators, join me!) and recently became an Ambassador as well. Our next step is to get our school recognized as a Digital Citizenship Certified School.

It does take a village to educate and care for our children. In today’s world, helping them become responsible digital citizens is is of critical importance.

I’m not here as a salesperson for Common Sense Media. To me, it just makes sense.

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Post 13 on the 30-Day Blogging ChallengeName the top tech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom and rank them in order of their effectiveness, in your opinion.

tools “A successful tool is one that was used to do something undreamt of by its author.” – Stephen C. Johnson

The larger challenge here is that nowhere in the above prompt does it give me an idea of how many top tech tools I can list!

I’ll go for 3 that I use professionally and 3 that I recommend using with students.


1. Google tools: Email, Calendars, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Maps, Drawing, Google+, and Sites. There are more tools than that – but those I use on a daily basis. I haven’t used Office products in many years. When you can collaborate and access your things from anywhere, why use anything else?

2. Twitter- I joined Twitter in the fall of 2008. That’s 6 years ago! I’d say I began to see the power and use of Twitter about a year later and haven’t looked back. It’s the place where educators connect, share, support one another, stretch each other’s thinking, and get resources – all whenever you want it. I feel very fortunate to have my PLN.

3. Diigo – I use Diigo to save and share anything I find on the web. I have Twitter and Diigo connected so that anything I favorite on Twitter automatically saves to Diigo. I save many links each day and then have access to all of my resources anytime from anywhere. Plus, I can use the social side of it to see what others are saving and sharing, use Groups to collect collaboratively, and offer what I’ve shared to others.

With Students:

1. Common Sense Media: I value the work that went into designing their Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence and highly recommend these resources to all educators. I’ve also used and am again using the Digital Passport site (and app) with students. Graphite is a fabulous tool where resources have been evaluated and vetted by other educators. Thank you Common Sense Media, for all you do to support educators, students, and parents.

2. Google tools, again: Having a Google Apps for Education domain has contributed to a big shift in the way we teach and the way we integrate technology. These tools enable students to use technology as a tool to support learning, rather than starting with the tech and trying to go from there. Collaboration and sharing has impacted the amount of printing as students turn their work in digitally. Google Classroom is just getting underway, but already I’m hearing excitement and enthusiasm from the teachers using it.

3. I use a variety of iPads apps with students to encourage them to share their learning with others. We offer choice and students decide on the best app to meet their needs. Some of these might include: iMovie, Haiku Deck, Book Creator, or Explain Everything. Those apps would be at the top of my list for that purpose.

I look forward to reading the 13th post that other bloggers have shared to get their perspective on top tech tools.

 Image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by katerha: http://flickr.com/photos/katerha/5746905652

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For the past few years I have been especially focused on Digital Citizenship in our schools. I believe the topics that fall under the umbrella of Digital Citizenship are of critical importance in all of our work. It will take a team (a village?!) to regularly introduce, teach, expose, and review these topics with our students. That team is composed of all educators, administrators, parents, and the students themselves.

Some of the topics include:

  • Internet Safety
  • Privacy and Security
  • Digital Tattoo and Reputation (I call it ‘Tattoo’ rather than ‘Footprint’ after a great session at ISTE on this topic)
  • Information Literacy
  • Cyberbullying
  • Creative Credit and Copyright

I have been promoting and using the Digital Citizenship curriculum and Scope and Sequence  developed by CommonSenseMedia. Not only is it great to have it at hand and ready in all aspects, but the lessons are well-developed, appropriate, and engaging. I highly recommend it. There are many other resources, sites, people, and curricular materials available as well.

I recently found out that educators can become Digital Citizenship Certified by CommonSenseMedia by undergoing some training online. I completed that this week. You’ll see that I earned a badge to put on my blog. My goal wasn’t the badge, but to help spread the word of the importance of this work with our students.


I participated in a Twitter chat about a week ago about Digital Citizenship using the hashtag #digcit. There’s always a lively conversation and great resources shared using that hashtag. Here are some of the quotes I took away from that chat:

(I’m sorry I’m not properly attributing them)

  • My understanding of Digital Citizenship is RAP: Respect; be Aware; Protect
  • Be a global citizen and a digital citizen
  • The very best way to teach digital citizenship is to model digital citizenship behavior. A close (and necessary) second is to talk about it.
  • Digital Citizenship is using the Internet ethically and responsibly to keep yourself safe and secure.
  • Parents are the key. They are the first teachers of digital citizenship.
  • One thing for sure: Citizenship can’t be citizenship if it’s DICTATED to the citizens!
  • It is important to model proper digital citizenship with children. Listen to them.  Be there for them and care about them.
  • One definition of digital citizenship could be “life literacy”. Kids are ahead in some areas but we cannot assume that they all digitally literate.
  • It takes a village to raise a good Digital Citizen!

Digital Citizenship topics are popping up in the news and online posts regularly.  Shouldn’t we all do our part to have these conversations with our students?


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