Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

Digital Citizenship

Many different groups acknowledge the need for student learning about digital citizenship. Parents and educators recognize the need as they see young people spending increasing amounts of time using the Internet and social media. A recent survey undertaken by Sonoma County school districts through BrightBytes found that digital citizenship was ranked high among the learning needs of all respondents. State and federal lawmakers have passed legislation requiring public schools with Internet access to provide students with a digital citizenship learning curriculum. This page offers resources and materials to help guide educators and parents in this important area.

Monthly Themes & Lessons

One strategy schools can use in their approach to helping students learn about digital citizenship is to have agreed-upon content that students will consider each month. Throughout the 2014-15 school year, SCOE will feature monthly, grade-specific resources from Common Sense Media Foundation that focus on the following themes.

Themes for 2014-15
Sept | Internet Privacy/Safety
Oct | Anti-bullying
Nov | Digital Footprint/Reputation
Dec | Self Image
Jan | Information Literacy
Feb | Character Education
Mar | Relationships & Communication
Apr | Media Literacy

April: Media Literacy
Grade K    My Creative Work
Grade 1    Sites I Like
Grade 2    Things for Sale
Grade 3    Picture Perfect
Grade 4    Selling Stereotypes
Grade 5    Just Because It’s Out There Doesn’t Mean It’s Good
Grade 6    So How do You Find the Good Stuff?
Grade 7    News Literacy: Critical Thinking Skills for 21st Century
Grade 8    Challenging Stereotypes: A New Look at Old Age
Grade 9    Five Broken Cameras: How Storytellers Shape the Story
Grade 10   Teaching Adolescents How To Evaluate the Value of Online Information
Grade 11   Reality Media?
Grade 12   Contrasting Visions of Womanhood and the Future

March: Relationships & Communication
Grade K    Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
Grade 1    Writing Good Emails
Grade 2    Screen Out the Mean
Grade 3    Talking Safely Online
Grade 4    What’s Cyberbullying
Grade 5    Rings of Responsibility
Grade 6    The Reality of Digital Drama
Grade 7    Build Your Ideal Community
Grade 8    Chart It
Grade 9    Risky Online Relationships
Grade 10   Taking Perspectives on Cyberbullying
Grade 11   Breaking Down Hate Speech
Grade 12   Becoming a Web Celeb

February: Character Education
Grade K    Fishy Friends
Grade 1    Practicing Patience
Grade 2    Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
Grade 3    The Hundred Dresses
Grade 4    Citizenship in Action
Grade 5    Digital Citizenship Pledge
Grade 6    Safe Online Talk
Grade 7    The Reality of Digital Drama
Grade 8    Cyberbullying: Crossing the Line
Grade 9    My Online Code
Grade 10   Breaking Down Hate Speech
Grade 11   Feeling on Display
Grade 12   Overexposed: Sexting and Relationships

January: Information Literacy
Grade K    A-B-C Searching
Grade 1    Using Keywords
Grade 2    My Creative Work
Grade 3    The Key to Keywords
Grade 4    Whose Is It, Anyway?
Grade 5    How to Cite a Site
Grade 6    Strategic Searching
Grade 7    Gender Stereotypes Online
Grade 8    A Creator’s Responsibilities
Grade 9    Building Community Online
Grade 10   Rights, Remixes, and Respect
Grade 11   Copyrights and Wrongs
Grade 12   Collective Intelligence

December: Self Image
Grade K    Staying Safe Online
Grade 1    Show Respect Online
Grade 2    My Online Community
Grade 3    Super Digital Citizen
Grade 4    Picture Perfect
Grade 5    Selling Stereotypes
Grade 6    The Ups and Downs of Digital Life
Grade 7    My Media
Grade 8    Which Me Should I Be
Grade 9    Feeling On Display
Grade 10   Who Are You Online?
Grade 11   Rights, Remixes, and Respect
Grade 12   Retouching Reality

November: Digital Footprint & Reputation
Grade K    Keep it Private
Grade 1    Follow the Digital Trail
Grade 2    Writing Good Emails
Grade 3    Private & Personal Information
Grade 4    Digital Citizenship Pledge
Grade 5    Privacy Rules
Grade 6    Top Secret
Grade 7    Digital Life 101
Grade 8    Trillion Dollar Footprint
Grade 9    Oops! I Broadcast it on the Internet!
Grade 10   Overexposed: Sexting & Relationships
Grade 11   College Bound
Grade 12   Private Today, Public Tomorrow

October: Anti-Bullying
Grade K    Sending Email
Grade 1    Screen Out the Mean
Grade 2    Show Respect Online
Grade 3    The Power of Words
Grade 4    You’ve Won a Prize!
Grade 5    What’s Cyberbullying?
Grade 6    Cyberbullying: Be Upstanding!
Grade 7    Which Me Should I Be?
Grade 8    The Reality of Digital Drama
Grade 9    Turn Down the Dial on Cyberbulling and Online Cruelty
Grade 10   Building Community Online
Grade 11   Becoming a Web Celeb
Grade 12   Breaking Down Hate Speech

September: Internet Privacy and Safety
Grade K   Going Places Safely
Grade 1    Staying Safe Online
Grade 2    Powerful Passwords
Grade 3    Rings of Responsibility
Grade 4    Strong Passwords
Grade 5    Talking Safely Online
Grade 6    Digital Life 101
Grade 7    Safe Online Talk
Grade 8    With Power Comes Responsibility
Grade 9    Digital Life 102
Grade 10   My Online Code
Grade 11   What’s the Big Deal About Internet Privacy?
Grade 12   Does It Matter Who Has Your Data?

Sample Videos from Common Sense Media

Safe Online Talk
Going Places Safely (K-2) – Video
This K-2 lesson from Common Sense Media includes downloadable lesson materials and the My Online Neighborhood video.

Talking Safely Online, Grades 6-8
Safe Online Talk (6-8) – Video
This Grade 6-8 lesson from Common Sense Media includes downloadable lesson materials and two videos that offer student perspectives about online talk.

Other Resources

Recent Blog Posts
04/01/14   Digital Citizenship: Excellent Resources from Common Sense Media
02/19/14   Should schools monitor students’ social media posts?
08/14/13   Guiding Young Children’s Access to Digital Media
04/24/13   Cybersafety: Finding Balance and Building Responsibility
03/19/13   Information Literacy Skills are More Important Than Ever

Acceptable Use Policies
School trustees and administrators should have policies that outline the purposes of school Internet use for both students and staff. Policies should describe services, define expectations, and clearly explain the rules of use. Common Sense Media offers sample policies and outlines essential elements in a planning resource for 1:1 school learning programs.

Digital Citizenship Learning Materials
The California Department of Education and the K-12 High Speed Network recommended that schools provide lessons on Cyberbullying and Internet Safety in support of the cybersafety requirement for E-Rate compliance. Some potential curriculum resources for various grade levels are offered through:

ADL Curriculum Connections on Cyberbullying
Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Common Sense Media
Digital ID: 21st Century Citizens

Digital ID is a wiki created by Gail Desler and Natalie Bernasconi that is designed to provide teachers and students with a toolkit of reliable information and resources for learning how to be responsible digital citizens. The site provides a collaborative platform so that teachers and students can contribute to this resource as they learn.

Internet Filtering on School Computers
Schools and libraries that receive federal funds must filter Internet content to prevent access to objectionable content or material deemed harmful to students. This is accomplished by a device that monitors incoming Internet addresses and checks those addresses and/or keywords on incoming Web pages. If a page contains matches in addresses or keywords, the filter denies access to the end-user’s computer.

Internet filters are generally successful in restricting content for school with primary-grade students, but they are less effective as students get older and become more skilled at developing workarounds that bypass the filtering system. This is especially true at middle and high schools where overcoming filtering software can be a game-like obsession for some students.

The bottom line is that there is no substitute for adult supervision. Educators and parents need to monitor student use of the Internet to ensure that it is used wisely and that students are safe.

Professional Development for Educators
Technology evolves and develops rapidly. Educators can best support safety on the Internet by keeping current about technology and understanding its educational applications. Teachers need relevant ongoing training activities in the following areas:

  • Hardware and software, including how to use classroom technologies on a personal basis.
  • Effective practices for managing school technologies, including how to utilize technologies with students in different settings (i.e., individualized learning, small group, and whole class).
  • Media literacy, including how to assess the validity and perspectives of media resources.
  • Information literacy, including how to use the Internet in conjunction with books, magazines, encyclopedias, and other information resources, and how to sort, sift, weigh, and synthesize information from a variety of resources.


  • Rick Phelan, Director, Technology for Learners
    (707) 524-2847,