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El Paso ISD taking steps to be Digital Citizenship Certified District

EPISD has armed students with instructional technology at unprecedented levels. Now, the District wants to make sure the students know how to use this technology in a safe and ethical manner.

The District has partnered with Common Sense Education to provide the necessary curriculum for students at every grade level. Students will receive instruction on how to be a responsible digital citizen both in and out of the classroom.

“We are providing students access to technology, and we want them to be able to use it effectively,” said Christopher Sherman, EPISD Instructional Technology Manager. “We also want them to be responsible. We want them to be safe.”

The lesson plans provided by Common Sense Education inform students how to deal with digital topics like cyberbullying, privacy, safety and information literacy.

The curriculum provides adaptability with 65 grade-differentiated plans based on fact-based research regarding digital citizenship.

Cielo Vista Elementary School, which became certified in December, formed a committee to pick the different lesson plans for students. Counselor Cristina Diaz picked lesson plans that dealt with issues like cyberbullying.

“The lessons were really neat because they are geared for every grade level,” Diaz said. “The kids really liked them.”

The lessons usually start with a group discussion and include an informational video. Then the students participate in hands-on activities about what they have learned.

“As a counselor I see the need for this kind of instruction. We need to talk them about what is appropriate and what they should do when issues arise,” Diaz said. “We use technology everyday so it is really great we are able to provide this for them.”

Each campus in the district has to send in documentation to become a Digital Citizenship Certified School, such as examples of student projects using the Common Sense curriculum.

“We are beyond impressed with the work that the schools of El Paso Independent School District are doing around digital citizenship,” said Louisa Sullivan, Common Sense Education Community Manager. “The applications we’ve received have truly shown exemplary work integrating digital citizenship.”

The process to become a Digital Citizenship Certified District started last fall and already more than half of the school District has been certified. EPISD is projecting all campuses will be certified by the end of the month.

“This is a responsible move on part of the District,” Sherman said. “We want them to be effective communicators, and we do that by providing them with the tools to make good decisions.”

Author: El Paso ISD

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