I write to let you know that we have introduced a terrific new Internet safety curriculum for students in grades 6, 7, and 8 from the Common Sense Media Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum. Later this fall, I'll be introducing a modified, age-appropriate curriculum for students in grades 3, 4, and 5. I'll be providing more information about the Lower School curriculum as we get closer to implementing it. In the Downloads section of this newsletter, you'll find a Common Sense Family Media Agreement for students in grades K-5 (although I think the agreement applies to any age student.) I invite you to take a look at it.
The goal of the 6th-8th grade curriculum is to encourage young people to harness the power of digital technology for learning, and to become safe and savvy digital citizens. The curriculum has three strands: Safety and Security, Digital Citizenship, and Research and Information Literacy. In the Safety and Security strand, students will learn that they can take steps to monitor their online privacy, protect their physical and emotional well-being, and think critically about the information they share online. Through hands-on activities and classroom discussion, your child will understand what information is appropriate to share online, with whom, and in what contexts.
What we teach in grades 6-8 for Safety and Security
Your child will: • Learn how to identify, avoid, and deal with unwanted contact online • Apply strategies to create strong passwords that protect and secure their information • Evaluate privacy policies to determine how companies collect information about visitors to their websites • Understand how to protect themselves against online identity theft
What families can do
Common Sense Media takes a holistic school-community approach to digital literacy and citizenship and provides parent educational resources to help you support your child’s learning. As we complete these lessons in class, we will be sending home parent tip sheets, links to online videos, and an occasional homework activity for you to do with your child. We encourage you to read and view the parent materials, have fun with the homework activities, and use this as an opportunity to share and learn about online safety and security together. If you have access to the Internet at home or at work, you can visit the Common Sense Media website at www.commonsensemedia.org and take a look at the parent resources on kids and media.
Here are some tips you can use to teach your children about safety and security:
• Establish rules for who’s okay to talk to. Online talk should be with people your children know, like family and friends.
• Remind your kids never to give strangers private information. Kids should never give out their name, address, school, phone number, email, pictures, or anything that could identify who they are.
• Help your kids master the fine art of password creation. It can actually be fun to develop really good passwords. Strong passwords are a key defense against unauthorized access to your information, as well as helping prevent identify theft.
• Don’t use passwords that are easy to guess – such as your nickname or your pet’s name. People who know you well can guess these kinds of passwords.
• Don’t use any private identity information in your password. Identity thieves can use this information to pretend to be you.
• Don’t use a word in the dictionary as a password. Hackers use programs that will try every word in the dictionary to guess passwords.
• Do use combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. These are harder to crack than regular words because there are more combinations to try.
We are excited about embarking on this new curriculum and look forward to sharing more with you about our activities in the classroom in the weeks ahead. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.