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Digital citizens thrive

Today's students must learn how to navigate the corridors not just of campus, but of the Internet as well.

That's why JUSD has partnered with Common Sense Education, the leading U.S. provider of research-based curriculum for healthy student use of the Web.  In recent weeks, the San Francisco-based nonprofit has named Jurupa Unified:

  • A Common Sense Showcase District, an honor that followed an in-depth examination of how the district is leveraging online safety training.
  • A Common Sense Certified District, earned after students and teachers met key benchmarks in completing digital-citizenship lessons and curriculum.

"We knew we needed to develop a culture districtwide to teach students how to be safe online," said JUSD Director of Education-Information Technology Josh Lewis – especially after each student received a Chromebook this year as part of the district's Digital Gateway initiative.  "We need to teach kids to be safe on the Internet just like we teach them to be safe in the lunchroom or on the playground." 

The instruction covers eight areas: internet safety; privacy/security; relationships and communication; cyberbullying and drama; digital footprint and reputation; self-image and identity; information literacy; and creative credit and copyright rules.

"The curriculum has been very useful and the topics have been engaging," said Erika Krause, teacher and technology coordinator at Jurupa Middle School.  

Students' favorite lesson tackles cyberbullying, she said, and JMS in October announced an anti-cyberbullying poster contest.  Anonymous peer voting determined winners Cecilia Campos (seventh grade) and Savannah Fenner (eighth grade), both recognized last month at the school's Honor Roll assembly. 

Also popular are "Digital Drama," which draws from reality TV to help teens comment constructively online, and "Trillion Dollar Footprint," which shows how social media posts can damage perceptions of someone's integrity, even years later.

"It's been eye-opening for them that colleges look at what they post online," Ms. Krause said of students' social media accounts.  Educators explain such dynamics not only in the classroom, but also in the college-preparation program Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), she said.

In all, the curriculum varies by grade to remain age-relevant, and lessons evolve to incorporate current digital trends, Mr. Lewis said.  For example, at a time when both sides of the political aisle decry "fake news," students learn how to analyze online reports for credibility.

At the same time, regardless of grade level, the course fundamentals don't sway: "The values coming across are basically the respect they need online as well as in person," Ms. Krause said.  "Be respectful and have integrity with each other."

Every student in Jurupa Unified has completed digital citizenship training, Mr. Lewis said.  The district has prioritized parent outreach, as well, to help ensure students receive the same digital guidance at school and at home. 

"We're excited to showcase Jurupa USD because of the great work that they are doing to implement a whole community approach to digital citizenship and digital learning in the district," said Sue Thotz, Education Program Manager for Common Sense Education.

"Earning the Common Sense District Certification and being selected as a Common Sense Showcase District demonstrates to our parents and community we are committed to teaching students how to use their devices in enriching and responsible ways," Mr. Lewis said.

By Cecilia Campos, seventh grade winner
Savannah Fenner Poster cyberbullying 0217.png
By Savannah Fenner, eighth grade winner