All six Minnetonka elementary schools have been recognized for excellence in teaching digital citizenship by Common Sense, a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping children and parents safely navigate and interact with the media and technology. Schools may earn a “Common Sense School” certification from Common Sense Education for teaching students how to be respectful and responsible digital citizens.
”Students spend a significant amount of time online. It's important that they learn to balance time online and offline as well as learn to be safe and responsible members of the digital community,” said Melissa Barry, a Media Specialist at Scenic Heights Elementary. Beginning in Kindergarten, Minnetonka students learn about their online impact and how to use technology responsibly and continue to learn about digital citizenship throughout elementary school. Since more and more students’ education relies on technology and being in the digital world, “it is imperative that [students] learn to become balanced, safe, and ethical users of technology,” said Barry.
In the classroom, technology is a key tool in students' learning. Media specialists play an important role in helping students to thrive in this environment. ”Technology impacts the way students learn by making vast resources available. Media specialists help students learn to find safe and reliable information and how to give credit to others when using resources,” explained Barry. “Technology also gives students a platform to share what they know in a variety of formats. Students learn to safely share what they learn through music, video, drawing and more.”
In their media classes, elementary students learn how their online activity impacts others and themselves and how to detect red flags or react when they see cyberbullying. These skills help students to grow as digital citizens and help them to stay safe in both their current and future online environments.
“Media specialists empower students to make choices that will keep them safe online while they harness the power of the online world,” Barry concluded. “Modeling and teaching a balanced use of technology will help our students to thrive.”
Thank you to all Minnetonka Schools media instructors for your work, and congratulations to Clear Springs, Deephaven, Excelsior, Groveland, Minnewashta and Scenic Heights Elementary schools for achieving this certification!