Common Sense Media Adds Digital Citizenship Curriculum for Fourth and Fifth Graders

New version includes student, teacher, and parent resources, including comprehensive lessons on cyberbullying
Common Sense Media
Monday, November 22, 2010

San Francisco, Ca. – Common Sense Media today launched a new version of its pioneering free digital citizenship curriculum, Digital Literacy and Citizenship in a Connected Culture ¬– adding student, teacher, and parent resources, including comprehensive lessons on cyberbullying, for fourth and fifth graders to its existing middle school curriculum. The program, which empowers students to think critically and make informed choices about how they live and treat others in today’s digital media world, covers topics from internet safety and security to privacy, with a deep focus on cyberbullying and responsible digital behavior. Recent stories of the tragic consequences of cyberbullying highlight the critical need to teach kids how to prevent and respond to digital harassment, beginning at a young age.

Common Sense Media also announced a major milestone for its digital media education programs. More than 10,000 schools have now registered to use Common Sense Media education materials. The milestone was reached last week – the same week the Obama administration announced its National Education Technology Plan that includes digital literacy and citizenship as part of how educators can transform student learning.

“A quality digital literacy and citizenship education for all kids is an essential foundation of a 21st century workforce and society,” said Linda Burch, chief education and strategy officer, Common Sense Media. “Giving young people the access, knowledge and technical skills to harness the power of new media is paramount, but so is teaching them to think critically and behave responsibly in this fast-paced digital world. Teaching kids how to live and treat others with respect in today’s digital media world should start in elementary school.”

The Common Sense curriculum, which is based on the digital ethics research of Dr. Howard Gardner and the GoodPlay Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education, uses engaging content – from print and video materials to interactive components and real life student stories – to inspire kids to be responsible digital citizens. Common Sense Media piloted the program in San Francisco and Omaha schools during the 2009-2010 school year, and this year schools in New York, Maine, Nebraska, and Los Angeles are implementing the full program as part of project evaluation.

“The cyberbullying component of the Common Sense Media curriculum captures everything that students need to know and presents it in well designed, interactive lessons that increase student engagement and connect with them at an emotional level," said Kevin Jenkins, educational technology specialist, Milpitas Unified School District in Milpitas, Ca. "The lessons provide opportunities for students to interact amongst themselves and hear other students thoughts and real-life stories -- not just a teacher telling them how they should behave. Students get to apply what they’ve learned and actually build online communities and develop the rules needed to make it work without the negative aspects we see so much of online.”

"We've had to sit through a lot of bad videos, stuff that is over-dramatic, or poorly acted, or too sappy,” said a female 8th grade student from Del Mar Middle School in Tiburon, Calif. “This [curriculum] was the best way to look at these issues so far."

In addition to the in-classroom curriculum, Common Sense Media also offers a parent media education program, which provides print and online resources for schools to engage parents in media and technology issues. The parent program launched in Nov. 2008. Common Sense Media Schools are in all 50 states and 57 countries.

To view all of Common Sense Media’s comprehensive cyberbullying materials, use the following links:

For Parents: Cyberbulling tips and videos:

For Educators: Materials from the parent media education program and Digital Citizenship in a Connected Culture – including the new fourth and fifth grade resources (use press contact below for log-in information)

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to: www.commonsense.org.

Press Contact:
Marisa Connolly
415-553-6703
[email protected]