New Tools Make It Easier to Find and Use the Digital Literacy Curriculum

November 06, 2012
Darri Stephens Senior Director, Education Content
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES Common Sense News, Common Sense Resources, Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, In the Classroom

As you start thinking ahead to the second half of the school year, we’ve made it even easier for you to browse the lessons in our free K-12 digital literacy and citizenship curriculum.

Maybe you’re a third grade teacher looking for a quick activity to introduce your students to effective online searching? Or maybe you’re a middle school librarian who’s been hearing more and more stories about cyberbullying, but you’ve never addressed it before? Or maybe you’re the technology liaison for your school looking to spruce up and inform your own digital citizenship curriculum across multiple grade levels?

Either way, our new interactive Scope and Sequence makes it easier to browse lessons by grade and by topic and to find resources you can access, digest, and adapt quickly for your classroom.

Our cross-curricular approach covers eight categories: Internet Safety, Privacy and Security, Relationships and Communication, Cyberbullying, Digital Footprint and Reputation, Self-image and Identity, and Information Literacy. (Read more in our Curriculum Overview). The sequence consists of spiraling units, each containing five lessons that build on one another, reinforcing developmentally appropriate topics through age-appropriate activities. 

If you’ve used our curriculum before, you’ll notice that our units are now organized by grade band, instead of by topic.

We’ve made these changes in response to educators who told us that they wanted to be able to more quickly navigate and find the content and support with school-wide implementation.

We understand that definitions of “digital citizenship” are often multilayered, so we are shying away from sorting our lessons into specific categories, and instead are using a new tagging system to help identify how lessons often address more than one topic area.  For instance, a lesson on cyberbullying also often reinforces positive interpersonal relationships and communication strategies or touches on aspects of internet safety—all three of which are curriculum components. 

We think this new tagging feature will help you find those lessons that address a particular need, as well as highlight how categories within this field may relate to one another. And because the new units build on each other, they create a roadmap for integration throughout multiple grades.

Still unsure where to start? Try one of these:

  1. Work with the other teachers in your grade band to teach a set of the units; for instance, 6th grade could teach Unit 1, 7th grade could focus on Unit 2, and 8th grade could delve into Unit 3. 
  2. Teach all the grade-appropriate units within one year in your classroom, for a total of fifteen 45-minute lessons (with the exception of high school, which includes twenty 45-minute lessons). 
  3. Focus on one or more topics to address a particular need.  Click on one of the eight categories in the top bar of the Scope and Sequence to highlight all of the tagged/applicable K-12 lessons.

We hope these changes make the curriculum more responsive to your needs. But what hasn’t changed is our hope that you design your own roadmap. This curriculum is meant to be modular and flexible and has been created to empower you and your students in the way you deem best.  We hope this new approach will support you in taking those first steps in building a robust foundation for digital citizenship education.

How else have we listened to you?  The tried and true lessons still exist, although a few have been aged down as kids are becoming more tech-savvy at younger ages. This time, however, we omitted grade references on the content that students see in case you want to continue using them with younger or older students. 

Some lessons have been archived (but are still available) in the “Library” at the bottom of the Scope and Sequence. We’ve streamlined the look and feel of the lessons across grade bands, highlighting upfront how lessons are standards-aligned and peppering them with more media-rich suggestions.  Lessons are tagged with category icons, grade bands, and unit level in the easy-to-see upper right-hand corner.  Handouts now include lines for students’ names—a simple yet important request.

And all of the lessons’ assets— lesson plans, handouts, teacher backgrounders, and lesson-level assessments — are bundled and downloadable with one easy click of the red “download lesson materials” button. 

Finally, classroom videos now are organized according to a new taxonomy, and we’ve added content descriptions as well as direct links back to the related lessons. All soon will be available on YouTube and SchoolTube.

We understand that though change is good, it can also be a bit disorienting! That's why we're holding a short webinar Thursday, November 8th, from 9:30-10:00am PST to tell you more about what's changed and how to navigate. We'd love to have you join us for this interactive overview. Register for the webinar here.

Thanks to those of you who shared such valuable feedback with us. Start browsing our resources here. We can’t wait to hear how it goes.