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Digital Citizenship in 5th Grade

Yumi Nakanishi, Technology Integrator

This article is part of a series on the importance of digital citizenship in the Lower Division. Read the introduction here, as well as articles on digital citizenship in 1st2nd3rd and 4th grade.

The 5th grade experience is all about preparing for the Upper Division. With that in mind, the 5th grade digital citizenship curriculum focused on students’ digital footprint, online relationships and privacy and security.

The World Course curriculum begins with a unit of study on identity, so understanding digital footprint and identity was a natural integration with this unit. In the introductory activity, students were asked to imagine and draw their digital footprint by filling out a blank version of the digital footprint below. Which sites did they regularly visit? Did they post any images or comments? Was there any public information about them online? Then they Googled their own names to discover if there was any information about themselves on the internet. Most students were relieved to learn that there wasn’t much information about themselves, but at the same time were surprised to see information about their parents online. Students learned their digital footprint is permanent and that for the most part that they are the ones in control of their own footprint and identity.

Digital Footprint

The next topic we covered was online relationships. In addition to their school-issued iPads, many 5th grade students have their own cell phones, so cyberbullying and what it means to be an “upstander” were addressed. Students were given scenarios and discussed whether or not the scenarios would be considered cyberbullying and how they could act as upstanders should they encounter a similar scenario.

5th Graders Digital Citizenship

Two 5th graders share a presentation they'd created on their iPads. 

Next we reminded students about the difference between private and personal information. We addressed which types of personal information is considered okay to share online and which types of private information is never okay to share online. In pairs, students shared with their partner one piece of personal information they might share online and one piece of private information they would never share, discussing why and why not.

Lastly, we introduced password security. Fifth graders learned what makes a strong password and how a strong password is one of the best measures to stay safe and secure online. We gave students strategies on how to create a strong password by making phrases inserted with characters, lower and uppercase letters. Then students tested the strength of their password at the How Secure Is My Password site before they changed their own Google account password. We taught students that with more and more independence in the digital world comes responsibility to be even more responsible digital citizens.


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