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Digital Citizenship | Student Engagement | Middle School | Lesson Plans

4 Best Places to Find Digital Citizenship Activities for Middle School

November 9th, 2021 | 9 min. read

Mike Cescon

Mike Cescon

With past experience in teaching, a couple of degrees in writing, and an upbringing immersed in medical jargon, Mike is positioned well to hear out the most common questions teachers ask about the AES curriculum. His goal is to write content that quickly and effectively answers these questions so you can back to what matters - teaching your students.

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With how much of our lives takes place over the internet, digital citizenship skills have become essential for students to develop in the modern day. Students who have developed these skills are well-equipped to handle technology healthily, while those who haven’t may fall victim to pitfalls like cyberbullying or irresponsible social media use. 

As an instructor, you want to protect your students and teach them the best practices to safely use technology. But teaching digital citizenship to secondary schoolers can be more complicated than it seems. 

After all, students these days are so immersed in technology that many of them are quite confident in their technical know-how--more confident than they should be. And that makes your job more difficult. 

At AES, we speak to hundreds of teachers like you every year, and we’re aware of how tough it can be to get through to your students about technology. In response, we’ve composed a list of educational and--more importantly--engaging resources to help you impart your students with the knowledge they need about digital citizenship. 

In this article, you’ll discover 4 of the best online resources to find engaging, educational digital citizenship activities for your classroom:

  1. Common Sense Education
  2. Be Internet Awesome from Google
  3. iKeepSafe
  4. TeachersPayTeachers

This article will give you four options to find the best digital citizenship activities out there. 

Need more info on what digital citizenship is?

1. Common Sense Education

common-sense-education-digital-citizenship-lessons

Common Sense Education is an online nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teachers, students, and parents learn more about technology and media so that they can make the best digital decisions for themselves. 

Their Digital Citizenship Program is a part of this mission, providing material that teachers can use to train and educate their students on responsible media and internet use.

What Digital Citizenship Topics Are Included?

Common Sense Education focuses on providing engaging activities teachers can use to cover essential digital citizenship skills

They divide their content into six general digital citizenship topics:

  • Media Balance & Well-Being
  • Privacy & Security
  • Digital Footprint & Identity
  • Relationships & Communication
  • Cyberbullying, Digital Drama & Hate Speech
  • News & Media Literacy

Each of these topics has lesson plans, games, and activities included, each taking various lengths of time to complete. 

How Much Does Common Sense Education Cost?

The materials on Common Sense Education’s website are free, though many of their lesson plans and activities require registration on their site to use. 

Who Is Common Sense Education Intended For?

Common Sense Education is an excellent resource to use for teachers throughout the K-12 space. They have material specialized for elementary schoolers, middle schoolers, and high schoolers. 

If you teach in the K-12 space and need supplemental material and activities to teach digital citizenship, Common Sense Education is a great choice. 

2. Be Internet Awesome from Google

be-internet-awesome-digital-citizenship-curriculum

Be Internet Awesome is a program developed by Google to teach students of all ages valuable skills when it comes to being a good digital citizen. 

This program offers support to teachers in the form of educational material like presentations, videos, lesson plans, and activities. 

One of the most prominent activities of Be Internet Awesome is the Interland interactive game. This game is a keystone of the program and teaches students important skills about digital safety presented in an engaging, fun way. 

What Digital Citizenship Topics Are Included?

Be Internet Awesome comes with a PDF of lesson plans and activities teachers can use to educate their students on digital citizenship--while keeping hold of their attention. 

The digital curriculum Be Internet Awesome offers is divided into five units:

  • Share with Care - where students learn to become more thoughtful about sharing information over the internet. 
  • Don’t Fall for Fake - where students learn how to identify false information and avoid phishers.
  • Secure Your Secrets - where students learn strategies to better secure their secrets and personal information from hackers. 
  • It’s Cool to Be Kind - where students learn how to report cyberbullying and be more supportive of others online. 
  • When in Doubt, Talk It Out - where students learn how to communicate with others over potentially upsetting content they see online, and how to take action over it. 

The Interland game is divided into four levels, each of which aligns with a different digital citizenship unit from the curriculum and teaches according skills. They are:

  • Mindful Mountain - aligns with the Share with Care unit. 
  • Reality River - aligns with the Don’t Fall for Fake unit. 
  • Tower of Treasure - aligns with the Secure Your Secrets unit. 
  • Kind Kingdom - aligns with the It’s Cool to Be Kind unit.

How Much Does Be Internet Awesome Cost?

Be Internet Awesome’s educational material is free

Who Is Be Internet Awesome Intended For?

Much of Be Internet Awesome’s material is intended for a younger audience, usually in the elementary school age, and is received well by them. This is particularly the case for the Interland interactive game, which may fall flat for older students. 

However, much of their other material can certainly be adapted to teach older students in the middle school or high school age ranges. Their online curriculum, presentations, and other resources may benefit a teacher looking for supplemental material. 

If you teach in the K-6 range and need resources to teach digital citizenship, Be Internet Awesome would be a great fit for you. However, if you teach grades 7-12, you could still make it work, but the material might need some adapting to fit your more mature students. 

3. iKeepSafe

ikeepsafe-digital-citizenship-resourcesThe Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) is a national organization dedicated to promoting the safe use of media and technology. 

iKeepSafe mainly focuses on ensuring that digital products are compliant with federal and state requirements, and helps companies and other organizations accomplish this through various means. 

However, iKeepSafe has also partnered with Google to develop a series of lesson plans intended to instruct students on practical, healthy digital citizenship skills. 

What Digital Citizenship Topics Are Included?

iKeepSafe offers a digital citizenship curriculum that provides teachers with fully-fledged lesson plans, including activities, vocabulary lists, learning goals, and more. 

Though this curriculum is robust and nicely structured, it is also relatively compact and limited, covering 3 topics total in about 5 classes worth of material. Those topics are:

  • Become an Online Sleuth - where students learn to think critically about content they see online. 
  • Manage Your Digital Reputation - where students learn best practices in making appropriate decisions online. This topic is by far the longest, as it is divided into 3 individual lessons. 
  • Identify Tricks and Scams - where students learn how best to avoid tricks, scams, and other unpleasantness on the internet. 

Because of its smaller size, this resource would be more useful for teachers looking for only a few classes worth of material to reinforce an existing curriculum. 

How Much Does iKeepSafe Cost?

iKeepSafe’s digital citizenship curriculum is free to download off of their website.

Who Is iKeepSafe Intended For?

iKeepSafe’s digital curriculum is generally intended for students in grades 6-8. Though it has some material on the site more appropriate for younger audiences, the bulk of their lesson plans, activities, and other such content would be optimal for middle schoolers. 

If you’re a middle school teacher looking for a few supplemental lesson plans to teach your students digital citizenship skills, then iKeepSafe would be a good fit for you. 

However, if you teach elementary or high school students, or need a more in-depth curriculum, you might want to look elsewhere. 

4. TeachersPayTeachers

teachers-pay-teachers-digital-citizenship-activities

TeachersPayTeachers is a digital marketplace that sells thousands of educational resources for instructors teaching almost any age range, PreK to adult education. 

You can use this marketplace to buy resources for most classes you might teach, as there are hundreds of providers who use TeachersPayTeachers as a platform to sell lesson plans and activities they develop. 

Two of those providers are That Tech Chick and Ms Ellie Tech, both of whom provide digital citizenship content instructors can use to teach their classes. 

What Digital Citizenship Topics Are Included?

That Tech Chick sells a bundle that covers many important digital citizenship topics. It is composed of presentation slides, a quiz, and a PDF that will guide you in teaching the subject matter.

This bundle is great for grades 4-7, and the topics it covers include:

  • What a Digital Footprint is and Why It’s So Important
  • How We Acquire Our Digital Footprints
  • Making Good Decisions Online
  • What Computer “Cookies” Are & How They Help Form Our Digital Identities

This bundle advertises itself as no prep, paperless, and even has conversions available for its presentation slides, so that it doesn’t matter if you use Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint to teach them. 

In a similar vein, Ms Ellie Tech sells a digital citizenship resource that covers much of the vocabulary students should expect to encounter if they wish to become good digital citizens. 

Created with high schoolers in mind, this packet is composed of a 24-page PDF full of activities students take part in to lay their groundwork and prime them for later lessons in digital citizenship. 

How Much Does TeachersPayTeachers Cost?

Because TeachersPayTeachers is a digital marketplace--a platform for selling other products--the cost depends upon the product you buy and the vendor you buy it from. 

For example, That Tech Chick sells their digital citizenship bundle for $6.00, while Ms Ellie Tech sells their vocabulary packet for $2.00. Longer, more in-depth materials, however, are often sold for more money. 

Who Is TeachersPayTeachers Intended For?

TeachersPayTeachers is an excellent resource if you teach any age range and need supplemental material to reinforce your existing curriculum. 

For many teachers, spending a few dollars here and there for an activity that perfectly fits their classroom and course is well worth it. For example, both the That Tech Chick and Ms Ellie Tech digital citizenship resources provide engaging, efficient lessons and activities for very reasonable prices. 

However, some of the more in-depth, comprehensive curriculums sold on TeachersPayTeachers may end up being prohibitively expensive, so this website works better for smaller activities and projects. 

If you’re teaching digital citizenship and need a few lessons, activities, or games that will engage your students, check out TeachersPayTeachers. In particular, take a look at the resources offered by That Tech Chick and Ms Ellie Tech.

Teach Your Students to Become Great Digital Citizens In Less Time

Finding the right activities to both engage your students and teach them digital citizenship can be complicated. If your students find your lessons boring, they might just assume they know better than you about how the digital environment works, and check out. And that can be a pain. 

In this article, you’ve learned some great places you can go to find resources to grab your students’ attention, educate them on being good digital citizens, and save yourself hours of frustration in the process. 

Common Sense Education, Be Internet Awesome, iKeepSafe, and TeachersPayTeachers all specialize in teaching digital citizenship to a wide range of students, and each has activities and lesson plans perfect for reinforcing classrooms. 

But at AES, we know how crucial your time is, so why not save yourself a little more?

To get started with digital citizenship right now, download your free digital citizenship teaching resources to get a student handout and Code of Digital Conduct.

These materials can help you teach key concepts and hold your students accountable to being good digital citizens.

Click below to access your student handout and Digital Code of Conduct, and be sure to check out the digital citizenship module of Business&ITCenter21 to find similar resources:

free digital citizenship resource download