It’s no surprise that students are spending more and more time online. As educators, we know that digital literacy skills are incredibly important, now more than ever. Students need direct instruction and activities to practice these skills in the classroom. This list of 32 activities covers digital citizenship, activities that will help students find online resources, and how to stay safe on the internet; ultimately setting students up for success in their digital learning journeys.
1. Save the Northwest Tree Octopus
Start this lesson by discussing how to evaluate online sources. For an activity that will up classroom engagement, divide students into two teams. One team will evaluate a real website and the other will evaluate the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus site, a fake website.
Learn More: Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
2. Use the Teaching Digital Natives Curriculum
This curriculum was designed to be engaging and provides video game-like situations for students to practice digital skills. The awesome curriculum covers cybersecurity, the basics of internet safety, and digital citizenship skills.
Learn More: Teaching Digital Natives
3. Learn about Fake News
Academy 4 SC has created a really great tool for classroom teachers to use: a series of media literacy videos. One of them teaches about fake news. Along with this video, there are other resources and explanations.
Learn More: United 4 Social Change
4. Watch a BrainPop Video
BrainPop is a great way to introduce students to digital literacy. They have several videos about digital literacy topics, including ones featuring digital etiquette, cyberbullying, media literacy, and online safety. Each video has other resources like worksheets and related reading.
Learn More: BrainPop
5. Follow your Digital Footprint
Challenge students to follow their digital footprints by using this lesson plan from Code.org. Perfect for students in grades 6 through 8, this lesson encourages students to think about the information they put out on the internet.
Learn More: Code.org
6. Take a Khan Academy Course in Internet Safety
Looking for pre-made digital literacy lesson plans? Try out Khan Academy’s courses. Their lessons on Internet Safety are excellent and will certainly engage middle schoolers.
Learn More: Khan Academy
7. Get Digital Literacy Tips on Instagram
Share this one with students’ families. For daily doses of digital literacy tips, try following accounts on Instagram. Teaching Digital Literacy is a great one that was created by a former technology teacher.
Learn More: Teaching Digital Literacy
8. Celebrate Digital Citizenship Week
Created by Common Sense Media, this week in October is devoted to learning digital citizenship skills. While there are a ton of resources with digital citizenship lessons ready to go, this website, for Canada’s Media Literacy Week has some great resources for teachers.
Learn More: MediaSmarts
9. Apply the CRAAP Test to Evaluate Websites
Teach students the skills they need to evaluate websites. The CRAAP test is an easy-to-remember method for analyzing the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose of a website. This can be adapted for all grade levels and gives students the skills they need to find great resources on the internet.
Learn More: CRAAP Test
10. KidsHealth Cyberbullying Lesson
Students will never forget this lesson on cyberbullying. Have students think about the effects of online bullying with the help of this activity. Complete with standards, handouts, and a teacher guide, it’s a ready-to-use, maximum-impact lesson!
Learn More: KidsHealth
11. Read a Book
To get students thinking about misinformation and fake news on the internet, start with an old-fashioned book. Two Truths and a Lie is a great resource to use. Students will hear three “facts”. One of them is fake. Ask students to figure out which one is fake by doing some internet sleuthing. Discuss how this applies to the internet.
Learn More: Amazon
12. Do a Digital Literacy Self Assessment
Ask middle school students to self-assess their digital literacy skills. Checklists can be a powerful way for students to think about the gap in their skills. They can see what they’re already doing well, and get ideas about what skills they need to improve.
Learn More: You for Youth
13. Share a Powerful Video
This video provides a thoughtful way to explain how to behave online. It’s really well-made and will have students pause to think about how they connect to it. As an added bonus, have students create their own videos, using this one as inspiration.
Learn More: Gary Turk
14. Teach Kids to Be Internet Awesome
Use an interactive, already-prepared curriculum to teach students how to be responsible internet users. Here’s a great example of one from PearDeck. This engaging, ready-to-go curriculum is a complete tool that will help your students be internet awesome.
Learn More: Pear Deck Be Internet Awesome
15. Do an Escape Room
If you haven’t tried escape rooms with your class yet, now’s your chance. This escape room features cyber skills and is all digital. Your students will be having so much fun, they won’t even realize they’re brushing up on their digital citizenship skills!
Learn More: The Digital Citizenship Institute
16. Complete a Read-Aloud
Share a read-aloud like Zenobia July with your students. This book follows a transgender teen as she solves a cyber mystery involving a cyber bully. She uses her hacking skills and tech savviness to crack the case. There are several lessons already created about this book, so you can guide your students through multiple discussions.
Learn More: Teaching Books
17. Google It
Google Education has created a ton of great videos to help your students learn about being safe on the internet. You can easily set up a class and get your students to learn about topics including digital footprints, cyberbullying, and avoiding scams.
Learn More: Google for Education Applied Digital Skills
18. Attend the Carnegie Cyber Academy
Middle schoolers will love this learning platform, created by Cyberwise. Full of real-world learning experiences, this online game will teach students how to be safe on the internet. The website also has a ton of other resources for teachers and families.
Learn More: Cyber Wise
19. Evaluate Fake News
Show students fake news sites and have them learn how to identify them. This is a great opportunity for students to learn about why people produce fake news. There are a ton of websites that may appear real but are not.
Learn More: CBS News
20. Get Families Involved
Digital Literacy is an important skill in school. It’s also incredibly important at home. Students whose families model good digital citizenship, and who reinforce the skills, are more likely to practice them. Host a family information night, or send information home so that families can participate.
Learn More: Family Online Safety Institute
21. Become a Chief Technology Officer
In the future, your students may go into a career in cybersecurity. For now, give them a chance to try it out! Through this simulator, students can become Chief Technology Officers and practice digital literacy skills. They’ll need to complete challenges and will learn cybersecurity vocabulary.
Learn More: PBS.org
22. Think Critically about What’s Online
Try this quick mini-lesson to get your students thinking about what they find online. Use a photo that isn’t what it seems. Tie this into the information they find online and discuss misinformation.
Learn More: We are Teachers
23. Play Kahoot
Put students’ digital citizenship skills to the test by playing a Kahoot game. You can create your own, or choose one that has already been made.
24. Go on a Goose Chase
Goosechase is a really engaging tool that works like a digital scavenger hunt. Have your students work through a goose chase while applying their digital literacy skills. Create your own, or use one that’s been made by another educator.
Learn More: Goosechase
25. Use an Infographic
Teach students the skills they need to know by showing them an infographic about Digital Literacy. Reading an infographic is a form of media literacy, so you’ll be activating their brains in many ways!
Learn More: EdTechReview
26. Talk About It
Simply having a discussion with your students about why internet safety is important is a great way to start your student’s learning journey. Come up with your own discussion points, or find some online.
Learn More: TeachYourKidsCode.org
27. Use an EdPuzzle
EdPuzzle is a great way to create engaging videos. Students will be asked to answer questions throughout a video. It’s helpful to know what your students are learning from the video.
Learn More: EdPuzzle
28. Hang a Poster
Visual reminders of how to be safe online can be helpful for students. Have kids create one for your classroom, or find one online that you can use for free or buy. Hang it up in your class for students to see every day.
Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers
29. Use a worksheet
Find some ready-to-go worksheets online that you can use to help students learn about digital citizenship skills. Pair this with a video or another activity to make the most of it!
Learn More: Worksheetplace.com
30. Create Digital Literacy Centers
Here’s a fun one: create centers in your classroom that will help students learn digital literacy skills. At each center, students will focus on a different skill!
Learn More: The Butterfly Teacher
31. Read an Ebook
How about using an ebook to teach your students digital literacy skills? Book creator is a great place to start, and has a ton of ebooks already made. After studying them, encourage students to create their own.
Learn More: Class Tech Tips
32. Model Great Digital Literacy Skills
Students look up to you. Every chance you get, model good digital literacy skills for them. Brush up on your own by undertaking some professional development if needed!
Learn More: Teach Away