By Kathryn Livick
Our classrooms are changing rapidly with all the amazing learning opportunities the internet brings, and unique new hazards come hand-in-hand with those opportunities. Have you incorporated digital citizenship curriculum into your teaching flow--or are you panicking at the thought of adding yet another morsel to your already-full plate? Fear not--if you have students in grades 3-5, Google has developed a free, self-contained, easy-to-use curriculum that will teach your kids the basics of good digital citizenship--and you might learn a thing or two yourself!
What is “digital citizenship”, anyway?
Digital citizenship means teaching students how to keep themselves safe on the Internet, while also learning to behave ethically when they’re online. The International Society for Technology in Education’s Student Standards expect students to understand their “digital footprint”, or how permanent their online actions can be in relation to their personal reputations. They are also asked to “engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior“ while using technology, to understand the basics of intellectual property, and to understand how to manage their personal data and keep private things private. Google’s Internet Awesome program is aligned to these widely respected standards, and organizes this information into some easily digestible chunks for classroom integration.
How does it work?Internet Awesome consists of two main parts: downloadable lesson content, and the Interland online gaming environment. The downloadable content contains a parent welcome letter and lesson plans with correlated standards (ISTE and AASL). Each lesson contains themes, an overview, and goals, as well as standards, vocabulary, and activities.
Lesson activities are flexible, but seem intended to be one hour or so in length. They’re interactive, requiring participation and discussion from students, and unplugged (offline) except for the final activity, which is an Interland game appropriate for the theme of the particular lesson.
The lessons are themed along single words that remind students of their goals as “Internauts”:
- SMART - Learning to be smart about information sharing and understanding your digital footprint
- ALERT - Learning to detect fake information and phishing and avoid being scammed
- STRONG - Learning to protect passwords and personal information
- KIND - Learning about online bullying and how to be an “upstander” online
- BRAVE - This is not a lesson unit, but a discussion guide for what to do if something goes wrong online
The Internet Awesome program also offers some posters and additional activities, including certificates and online badges for completion of the program.
Anything else I should know?
It can be difficult to find the time to fit digital citizenship into your already-packed days, but it’s a must for our students as they move toward being fully engaged 21st century citizens. The Internet Awesome curriculum is a great start for your 3rd-5th graders who are just learning to be responsible digital citizens. If you’re looking for some more in-depth information about digital citizenship, check out Common Sense Media’s digital citizenship resources, which are also aligned with ISTE standards as well as Common Core standards.