The students at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Valparaiso are learning what it means to be a digital citizen. According to CommonSenseMedia.org, a digital citizen is a person who “knows how to harness the power of technology safely, responsibly and respectfully.” The teachers and staff at Thomas Jefferson Elementary are using the free, researched-based materials and curriculum published by Common Sense Media to introduce their students to being good digital citizens.
Through hands-on activities and lessons, the kindergarten through fifth grade students are learning essential 21st century skills to harness the full potential of technology for learning. The digital citizenship curriculum teaches students the importance of protecting private information, being aware of their digital footprint, respecting themselves and others, standing up to cyberbullying and staying safe online.
Digital citizenship education does not have to be limited to the classroom. Parents at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School have been introduced to the plethora of resources on CommonSenseMedia.org to guide family discussions about making smart choices online. Many families have chosen to take a Family Media Agreement, in which families recognize that online media is a part of our lives, but there is a need to talk about how to stay safe online or how to find appropriate and fun sites or apps for children. The Family Media Agreement is a great place for families to start an ongoing, positive discussion about digital citizenship.
Digital citizenship education must start at an early age; students as young as kindergarten have access to the internet at Thomas Jefferson Elementary. Primary grade students use iPads, Chromebooks and laptops to access educational programs and games such as Xtra Math, Reading Eggs and Math Seeds.
As students enter older grades, they are given more responsibility online by using Google Docs to create and submit their assignments online to their teacher. By establishing a strong foundation of what it means to be a good digital citizen at an early age, students will have the knowledge to make wise decisions online in the future.