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Weekend Website #113: Digital Passport

Posted by on October 19, 2012

Every week, I share a website that inspired my students. Here’s one that I’ve found effective in covering the myriad branches of the question, How can I be a good digital citizen?


Grades 3-5


Digital citizenship


Digital Passport, by Common Sense Media


Digital citizenship is the hot topic of 2012. Why wouldn’t it be? Students are more likely to research online than in the library, more interested in video games than books, and more motivated by the iPad than any other educational tool in years. With that interest comes responsibility on the part of teachers to educate students as young as kindergarten on how to use the internet safely and securely.

There are many websites that offer instruction to accomplish this goal (Carnegie Cyber Academy, NetSmartz Kids, Welcome to the Web!), but none for grades 3-5 with the meticulous step-by-step approach of Common Sense Media’s award-winning Digital Passport. Already used by over 100,000 students in the USA, this free-to-schools online program mixes videos, games, quizzes, and the challenge of earning badges to teach students the  concepts behind digital citizenship:

  • Communication
  • Privacy
  • Cyber-bullying
  • How to search
  • Plagiarism

It includes certificates of achievement, badges to award completion of units, and a classroom tracking poster to show how students are progressing.

Here’s how teachers use it. They create an account, then set up groups for individual classes (I have nine). Students log in through this teacher account–no email required. Each unit takes about 45 minutes (maybe more), starting with a video. Teachers receive guided instruction on teaching the unit, conversations that generate thoughtful student involvement and suggestions on blending activities to tie into the overall topic. They can preview the games and get training on each unit so they’re sure of offering everything available to students.

Content is age-appropriate and user-friendly, appealing to the age groups it’s intended to serve. The website is easy to navigate and the variety of material keeps students interested. Because Common Sense is non-profit and the Digital Passport is funded by a grant, there is no advertising. This is a plus. Yes, when ads pop up on internet sites, I can use it as an opportunity to discuss how to avoid bling, but I’d rather stay focused on the topic.

Here’s a video of how it works:

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a K-6 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and six ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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