I am a fair and ethical digital citizen when I:

  • respect and give credit to the intellectual works of others.  I never take credit for what I don’t do myself.

  • respect and do not illegally copy or steal the creative works of others.


For whatever reason, the rise of the Internet has helped inculcate a different set of expectations around intellectual and digital property.  Many people who would never even think to steal something from a store or a neighbor’s house will also download music illegally without blinking an eye.  Perhaps that has something to do with the “copy and paste” nature of illegal downloading that distinguishes from physically removing a real-life object from where it belongs?  I do not know.  Nevertheless, there are serious consequences, particularly financial ones, for students (and schools!) caught downloading content illegally.

The Internet age has allowed people access to a more participatory culture where information and creative works are remixed and spun in new ways.  This is certainly not a bad thing in-and-of itself; however, failing to give credit to the original creators of the works being used is stealing in the same sense that downloading a song without paying for it is.  It’s just not the fair thing to do.  We should not be afraid to engage students in this remixing, creative culture, but we should also remind them to be mindful of the works they use online, and considerate of the people who create them.


  • Maine Learning Results - Social Studies

    • A1 Researching and Developing Positions on Current Social Studies Issues, Grades 3-5

      • “Students identify and answer research questions related to social studies, by locating and selecting information and presenting findings” (p. 4).

        • f. “Describe plagiarism and demonstrate appropriate citation” (p. 4).
  • American Association of School Librarians - Standards for the 21st Century Learner

    • 1. Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge

      • 1.3 Responsibilities

        • 1.3.1 “Respect copyright/ intellectual property rights of creators and producers” (p. 4).

        • 1.3.3:  “Follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information” (p. 4).

    • 3. Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society

      • 3.1 Skills

        • 3.1.6:  “Use information and technology ethically and responsibly” (p.6).

  • American School Counselor Association - National Standards for Students

    • Personal/Social Development

      • Standard A:  “Students will acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and interpersonal skills to help them understand and respect self and others”

        • PS:A2:  Acquire Interpersonal Skills

          • PS:A2.2:  “Respect alternative points of view”

          • PS:A2.3:  “Recognize, accept, respect and appreciate individual differences”

          • PS:A2.4:  “Recognize, accept, and appreciate ethnic and cultural diversity”

          • PS:A2.5:  “Recognize and respect differences in various family configurations”

      • Standard B:  Students will make decisions, set goals and take necessary action to achieve goals

        • PS:B1:  Self-knowledge application

          • PS:B1.7:  “Demonstrate a respect and appreciation for individual and cultural differences”
  • ISTE Standards - Students

    • 3. Research and information fluency - “Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.”

      • b. “Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media”

Students can demonstrate this trait when they:

  • Cite the materials they use in digital presentations

Tools that students can use to demonstrate these traits:

  • EasyBib:  online citation generator.  Available on their website, or as a free add-on into Google Drive.

Lessons from Common Sense Media