Soon after students returned from spring break, IMS began rolling out an important addition to our Upper Campus academic offerings–a Digital Skills curriculum. Once a week in the sixth grade and once a week in the seventh grade, students are covering a variety of topics related to computers, the Internet, and social media. As we move into next year, other grade levels will be added to the program as a part of their Skills course curriculum rotation (Life Skills in the Middle School and Life Skills and Study Skills in the Upper School).

As a framework to cover this important information, the School is using a well developed curriculum from Common Sense Media, an organization founded in 2003 that advocates for children and families particularly around issues of media and technology. We strongly suggest that you take a few moments and visit the site. Beyond developing the curriculum we are using, Common Sense provides reviews on movies, video games, music, books, and other media and technology. These reviews are full of detailed information and provide a great alternative to the standard industry rating systems. Their website also has a great deal of information in the form of articles and videos about parenting and educating in the ever changing world of technology and social media in which our children are growing up.

Thus far topics that have been covered in Digital Skills include protecting private information online, how to recognize email scams, how to be efficient in using search engines, and issues surrounding intellectual property. Still to come are discussions concerning management of one’s “digital footprint” and digital persona, how to create strong passwords, how to handle uncomfortable online situations, and how to assess one’s media habits.  Given the current schedule, we will not be able cover every Common Sense Media lesson, but we will get to a majority of them for each grade level.

We feel that this new addition to the IMS program is an essential piece in achieving our common goal of raising savvy digital citizens and competent 21st Century learners. If you have any questions about the new curriculum, please contact Assistant Head of School and Director of Studies Tom Stewart.