Digital Citizenship


Welcome to our site on Digitial Citizenship. The purpose of this page is to provide resources on teaching our middle school and high school classrooms what it means to be a good digital citizen, how to stay safe online, and what to do when they meet a poor citizen. We want this to be a one-stop shop for all your needs when it comes to helping our students understand just how vast and exciting the Internet can be while staying safe and doing our part to ensure others enjoy it too.

Let's Get Started!

The first thing we need to impart onto our youngsters is simply "what is Digital Citizenship?"

Digital citizenship is the continuously developing norms of appropriate, responsible, and empowered technology use.


Part of what we teach our middle and high school students is how to be a good citizen wihtin our nation. Appropriate behavior for us as citizens includes appropriate dress for our activities (suits for work, atheltic gear for exercise, costumes fo rHalloween), basic civility and courtesy when addressing each other (don't cuss, shaking hands, use "sir'" or '"ma'am" or "miss"), and exerising our rights appropriately (free speech, getting out to vote as knowledgable voters, complying with the law). However, technology and the Internet often extend beyond our borders and put us in touch with those of vastly different cultures and views on good citizenship. So we must now be better able to equip our teenagers for confronting a different kind of citizenship using 9 key themes:

Image from "Engaged Digital Citizenship"

For further info and graphics concerning the themes and digital citizenship as a whole, take a look at the links below:


Digital Etiqutte, or netiquette, is that theme of digital citizenship on appropriate behavior. And just like the physical social world, different places carry inherent expecations on what appropriate behavior is. For example, online learning behavior is a smidge different than that on Facebook or Instagram with some basics that span all activies with technology. 

  • Classroom Netiquette - the University of Texas El Paso has simple rule list for particpating in online learning that can easily be used within your high school classroom ⇒
  • Social Networking Netiquette - Some of the expected behavior on social networking sites will be the same or very similar to online learning, but just like there are key differences between how you are expected to act in say a restaurant or club compared to the teachers' lounge, there are some here.


  • For some graphics, think about some of these below


Images from "15 Essential Netiquette Guidelines to Share With Your Students"

Classroom Tech Equity and Rules

When thinking about lessons on teaching netiquette or digital citizenship, I'm willing to bet you'll be using technology in the classroom. Perhaps your school has laptop carts for use. Or your computer lab is available for sign ups during some periods. What do these two examples have in common? School supplies may not always be available to you and you alone! So what are some alternatives when Ms. Smith has taken both laptop carts and is using them in the computer lab?

Images taken from "10 Classroom Rules for Using Technology" and "Technology Rules" 

Fair Use and Plagiarism

This topic addresses the two things many teachers fear most when using technology and the Internet in the classroom: safety for our students and fair use.

"Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances" 

The quote above is taken directly from the Copyright Act, found on It goes on to explain in very legal jargin just what appropriate circumstances are or aren't, how the courts factor in, and so on when it comes to copyrighted material (that material protected by law as the original publisher's own to do with as they see fit). So after you visit the site yourself, lets break down those four key factors:

  1. Purpose of the work is key here. Is it for educational purposes or private enterprise? Does it add to the work, take away, or usurp credit? As long as it's not used for the last two, and credit is given where credit is due, it may qualify as fair use.
  2. How did you use it? If the use was essentially in the spirit of the work, and can be factually supported, then it may qualify as fair use.
  3. How much and what parts were used is another factor. Generally if you use the whole thing you're probably in the wrong, or if you used the most critical part. However, should you stick to small amounts and more unimportant parts you could be under fair use.
  4. Does it hurt the original work? Since we'd likely be using it for educational purposes, the answer is probably not. Hurt is usually found in the form of commerce, such as selling unauthorized copies where the original artist gains nothing.
  5. For other explanations on fair use, I suggest the following links:

Violating fair use?, using another's work or something very close and passing it off as their own sounds a lot like plagiarism, does it not? However, plagiarism can come in many forms and is not always intentional. It would be easy to spot if someone wrote Taming of the Shrew and claimed they wrote it themselves, but that is rarely the case. Having a discussion on what plagiarism is and how to avoid it is essential, especially with the plethora of resources available on the web and the seeming ease in which students may find themselves passing off another's work as their own.

Image taken from Pinterest

Having that discussion with your students on how to correctly give credit to the original author(s) is vital so they are prepared for higher learning. Using common citation methods, like APA or MLA, and using it consistently, will allow your students to correctly use citations without thinking about it. Below are some links to lesson plan examples when approaching this topic:

Lastly on this subject, it is a good idea to hold your students accountable in the (hopefully) rare case they abuse classroom technology rules. It's also a good idea to keep their parents or guardians in the know as well. That's why I suggest a policy for students to sign and parents to see. Below is an example of one.

Image taken from Anderson Accetable Use Policy


We all want our students to take advantage of all the knowledge that is now at their fingertips. We also may want to encourage and cultivate their social understanding of the world, of which the Internet can be a huge helper. Above all, we want our students to be safe. We've discussed what are accetable rules for using technology, and many of these are directly related to safety, but we also want to emphasize those same things and others.

Video taken from Youtube

Having a lesson on internet safety or short videos once in a while is a good, engaging way to get your students thinking about safety, but constant reminders are very beneficial in ensuring they keep safety in the back of their minds. 

Images taken from the Roseland Academy and Education Technology Center

For more resources on being safe on the web, use the following links: