Common Sense Media

In my role as a Technology Integration Specialist (TIS), I have come across a lot of really outstanding resources during this school year.  Resources like GradeCam (http://www.gradecam.com) help to make the lives of teachers easier with their innovative ideas and intuitive interface. Rarely do I see a resource come along though that provides teachers with such a tremendous amount of information to help make their teaching better.  I have seen that now from Common Sense Media (http://www.commonsensemedia.org). (Full Disclosure – 2/27/2014: I have interviewed for a position with Common Sense Media, but that has no bearing on my writing of this blog post. My admiration for the quality products they produce has been in place prior to those circumstances taking place.)

Common Sense Media has several functions in the services that they provide. First, they provide ratings based on appropriate age level, quality, and educational value for apps, games, movies, music, websties, books, and television shows. Second, they have a site called Graphite (http://www.graphite.org/) that reviews various websites and apps for classroom usage. Perhaps their most outstanding service is their content and resources for educators to teach Digitial Citizenship and Literacy (http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/curriculum).

The resources provided by Common Sense Media are broken into units of five lessons each.  At each grade level there are a variety of units (for example, grades 6-8 have three units of five lessons each for a total of fifteen lessons).  In my role as TIS at Huntington Middle School, I took it upon myself, and with my principal’s permission, to take on educating our students on the idea of Digital Citizenship and Literacy.  We are required to do this as part of our e-rate funding requirements and to use lesson provided by Edvation in their TechSteps platform. While I find the lesson provided by Edvation to be adequate, they simply do not rate in quality against those from Common Sense Media.  I modified the lesson from Edvastion to include the aspects that were better from Common Sense Media to deliver to our students.  Doing this afforded me the opportunity to work with our students early in the school year and help them to grow as digital citizens in this highly connected world today.

UPDATE: On February 27, 2014, Common Sense Media released iBooks textbooks with their materials to provide students with education on Digital Citizenship and Literacy.  These iBooks are available by searching for Common Sense Media in the iBooks bookstore.

UPDATE 2: On March 13,2014, I received notification that I was approved as a Common Sense Media Certified Educator in the area of Digital Citizenship and Literacy. I am very proud of this accomplishment and will be using it to help in getting other educators that I work with on board with delivering the content to our students and try to make Huntington Middle School into the first Digital Citizenship and Literacy certified school in the state of West Virginia.

UPDATE 3: On June 19, 2014 I was notified that I was approved as Common Sense Media Graphite Educator.

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