New Video Series for Middle School Teachers Highlights Breakthrough Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum

Common Sense Media and Teaching Channel partner to provide teachers with digital literacy and citizenship lessons pegged to the Common Core State Standards

Common Sense Media
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

San Francisco – Common Sense Media and Teaching Channel (Tch) today jointly released a series of videos to help middle school teachers bring important digital literacy and citizenship lessons to their classrooms.

The nine-part series, co-produced by the two organizations, includes a broad range of digital topics, including cyberbullying, "fair use" of digital media, and online privacy. The videos were shot in Tch's high-quality documentary style and feature actual classroom footage of model educators from New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. Each video focuses on a lesson from Common Sense Media's digital literacy and citizenship curriculum, interspersed with interviews, and highlights "classroom takeaways" at the conclusion of each lesson. Eight of the videos tie directly into ELA Common Core State Standards, featuring teachers from a variety of subject areas, including social studies, English/language arts, and media/technology.

"We've seen through our work with both teachers and administrators that there is an increasing demand for training and instruction on how to teach the key issues facing students in a 21st century world, such as how to evaluate the credibility of information found online," said Rebecca Randall, vice president of education programs, Common Sense Media. "And with the increasing focus on Common Core standards, it's imperative that we explore the ways in which to teach students these digital literacy and citizenship skills in tandem with Common Core. This partnership with Teaching Channel is a unique and important way to reach teachers with the tools and training they need to efficiently ensure students are prepared to engage with the digital world safely and responsibly."

"We believe this series will be extremely useful for all of the educators who visit our site," said Pat Wasley, chief academic officer at Teaching Channel. "One of things we constantly hear from teachers around the country is a need for resources to help bring the Common Core into the classroom. That's why we've put such focus on creating and sharing videos that tie back to these standards — and making it quick and easy for our users to see which standards each video exemplifies. And being able to develop this series with Common Sense Media, and use its cutting-edge curriculum for the basis of the videos, has been tremendous."

The full series includes videos on the following subjects:

Creating a Snapshot of Digital Media Use
Students log their media use to get a snapshot of the role of media in their lives. They then illustrate their media use, learning how to present data visually to enhance understanding.

Using Critical Thinking to Find Trustworthy Websites
Students learn how to evaluate the trustworthiness and usefulness of informational websites. Evaluate the text to assess the validity of the reasoning and the relevance of the evidence.

Understanding "Fair Use" in a Digital World
The teacher helps students analyze video remixes to judge whether or not they fall under fair use. Students learn complex concepts to evaluate visual content and present supporting evidence.

Cyberbullying: What's Crossing the Line?
Students learn to analyze case studies and determine whether cyberbullying is taking place. They learn skills including evaluating a speaker's point of view and reasoning, and presenting information orally.

Improving Research Skills with Effective Keywords
The teacher helps students understand how different keywords produce different search results. Students learn how to select effective keywords to answer a research question, and test those keywords in online searches.

Online Talk: What's Safe and What's Risky?
Students learn about communicating with strangers online and judge the riskiness of different situations. This helps them learn how to make inferences from text and apply visual metaphors for understanding.

Exploring the Concept of Online Privacy
Students learn concepts of online privacy and analyze website privacy policies to understand how companies can use their private information. Students learn vocabulary and how to evaluate a complex text.

Understanding the Impact of Digital Footprints
The students learn about digital footprints by analyzing different social networking profiles and making inferences about how different audiences might interpret them. Students learn how to analyze the text, present an argument, and evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of using social media to present oneself to the world.

The Good and Bad of Using Different Online Personas
Students read several case studies to make inferences about whether playing with identity online is harmful or harmless. Students learn to read a text closely, make inferences, analyze details of how characters interact in a text, and draw conclusions.

Common Sense Media's digital literacy and citizenship curriculum — "Digital Literacy and Citizenship in a Connected Culture"— is a comprehensive K-12 curriculum designed to empower students to think critically and make informed choices about how they live and treat others in today's digital world. The curriculum, which is based on the work of Dr. Howard Gardner and the GoodPlay Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, covers topics ranging from Internet safety and security to privacy and cyberbullying, using engaging content to inspire kids to be responsible digital citizens.

Since launching in November 2008, Common Sense's education programs, which also include a parent education program and comprehensive professional development tools, have been adopted by a network of more than 45,000 educators in all 50 states and 70-plus countries.

To view the series, please visit Teaching Channel, and visit Common Sense Media for more information on their digital literacy and citizenship curriculum.

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:

About Teaching Channel
Teaching Channel revolutionizes how teachers learn, connect, and inspire each other and their communities to improve instruction and student outcomes in America's K–12 classrooms. A nonprofit organization, Tch engages teachers across the country to reinvent and revolutionize professional learning through video content and online innovation. For more information, visit Tch on the web at, and on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, @TeachingChannel.

Press Contacts:
Andrew Schulman
Teaching Channel
[email protected]

Marisa Connolly
Common Sense Media
[email protected]