Happy Digital Citizens Week!

Happy Digital Citizens Week to my fellow educators! Joe Cipfl here — I am a Regional Educational Technology Coordinator for the Learning Technology Center with three excellent Digital Citizenship resources specifically geared for middle school teachers and students. As a former middle school teacher myself, I know just how daunting of a task it can be finding reliable, age-appropriate material for middle school kids. These are outstanding, ready-to-use resources and lessons to help you get the most out Digital Citizens Week with your tween and teen students.

Digital Compass is an animated gaming platform produced by Common Sense Education, taking your students through choose-your-own-path adventures. Designed for middle schoolers, Digital Compass takes them through the experiences of digital life.  Students play through the perspective of one of eight characters, each of whom is facing a different digital citizenship dilemma. Students can play multiple times with multiple characters and earn badges as they complete each section.

Personally, I have used Digital Compass with 5th and 6th grade students. What I like most about it is that the learning objectives, material, and design are research-based and the in-game assessments are both quantitative and qualitative. Additionally, Digital Compass provides a very detailed and exhaustive Educators Guide, making planning a snap.

NetSmartz Teens is produced by the NetSmartz Workshop, a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It provides animated videos, short films, games, and interactive comics teaching middle school students valuable lessons about making safer choices online. Netsmartz Teens also provides engaging quizzes that will really make your adolescent students think carefully about how they interact with technology.

What drew me to NetSmartz Teens was the sheer volume and diversity of material available for my students. The site truly is multimedia, engaging students in a variety of different ways. There certainly is enough material to provide your middle schoolers with many activities for each day of Digital Citizens Week.

If there’s one thing middle school teachers could use more of, it’s time. Are you looking for a quick 30-minute lesson to teach digital citizenship? Look no further than this great lesson plan from Code.org. What’s more? The lesson is totally unplugged. No computers necessary for students. The focus of the activity is safe, responsible, and respectful behavior online. Furthermore, there’s a great art element to this lesson in which students get to cut, color, and glue.

I have been using Code.org as a resource with my students for several years. The material is always excellent, well-researched, and is aligned with ISTE and Common Core standards. And as a middle school teacher, only seeing my students for 45-minute class periods, I was always under a time crunch and couldn’t spare much time away from my core curriculum. This is a great lesson on digital citizenship if you can only spare one class period.

Hope everyone has a productive and meaningful Digital Citizenship Week 2018!! Please check back here at the LTC website often for more great edtech resources or you can follow us @LTCIllinois and me @LTCJoeC.