Here at Common Sense Media, we understand the stresses that come with being an educator in 21st-century classrooms—especially when it comes to digital literacy. Will students behave creatively or borrow ideas recklessly? Will they use social media to form empowering relationships or spill too much information to the wrong people? Will they act responsibly online or will they make dangerous decisions? These are probably questions you have asked yourself before. Today, educators in Colorado will be seeking some of these answers during the celebration of their first annual Digital Citizenship Day.
We have partnered with Denver Public Schools to host this exciting event, which is co-sponsored by dialysis services provider DaVita. Digital Citizenship Day, which Texas and New York also celebrated this past school year, has served as a designated time for schools to focus on digital literacy, using class time for activities that help to instill healthy online behavior in today’s students.
Working with Denver’s school district, we have developed a free digital literacy and citizenship toolkit [pdf] that contains everything educators need to get their school involved, such as:
· Five activities to disperse throughout the week of Digital Citizenship Day
· Handouts for parents, including age-specific family media agreements and tip sheets
· Family workshop activities
· Classroom posters
· Lesson plans designed for both formal and informal learning environments
The activities in the kit are grade-specific, beginning with a lesson on safe searching and progressing to more advanced scenarios covered in the “Digital Life 102” lesson designed for high school students. Everything in the kit is also available in both Spanish and English.
If you aren’t in Colorado, don’t worry. Everything in the kit is widely applicable to educators looking to enrich their curriculum with digital literacy education. You can host a Digital Citizenship Day in your own classroom using these tools and resources, and hopefully your school will be a part of the next statewide celebration.
Students are asked to make challenging ethical decisions in today’s digital world with every profile update, text message, and Facebook notification they receive. It is our job as educators to guide them through these decisions, and show them how to have a healthy relationship with advancing technologies. As we have said in the past, every student is a great digital citizen waiting to happen, and we hope resources like the Digital Citizenship Day kit help you to assist them in the process.