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Updated by Lilyanne Tyler on Jun 04, 2020
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Ethical Use of Information Resources

This is a curation of resources that would be useful to help middle school students understand the aspects and importance of the ethical use of information.
Created by Wimberly Tyler for FRIT 7234

Ethics - BrainPOP

Learn about what ethics and ethical dilemmas are, and how to make good decisions in tough situations.
Original Commentary - The root of all issues related to the ethical use of information is the idea of ethics and ethical behavior and decision making. This is a broader video by BrainPop but would still be highly useful for discussions about fair use, copyright, and more because it discusses what ethics are and why they are important. It helps students make interdisciplinary and real world connections to a topic that most students would only initially connect to language arts class.

Plagiarism - BrainPOP

Don’t steal words: Learn what plagiarism is and how to avoid it!
Original Commentary - This video from BrainPop explains the basics of plagiarism and helps students find ways to avoid being guilty of it. It makes a topic most students don't find interesting much more engaging. This would be helpful to show before students begin research for a project or paper.

Copyright - BrainPOP

Don’t get too creative with public works, or you’ll get sued for plagiarism! Find out what a copyright is and how it might apply to your everyday life.
Original Commentary - This engaging video covers the basics of copyright laws and infringement. Students love BrainPop, and since it is a short video with just the basics, it would serve well as a hook for a lesson on fair use and copyright.

Ethics/Copyright | InCtrl

InCtrl is a series of free standards-based lessons that teach key digital citizenship concepts. These lessons, for students in grades 4-8, are designed to engage students through inquiry-based activities, and collaborativeand creative opportunities.
Original Commentary - This lesson created by InCtrl is highly interactive, teaches basic ethical use concepts, and challenges students to use those concepts via critical thinking and product creation. It includes a handout on creator's rights for students that is eye-catching and serves as a helpful guide for students. The activities involved are varied and include discussions, videos, scenarios that involve decision making, and collaborative media creation. It truly gets students involved in their learning and helps them become responsible digital citizens.

Digizen - Digicentral - Copyright

Digizen - Internet Social Networking advice and guidance for young people, parents and teachers
Original Commentary - Another lesson provided by Digizen, this covers the basics of copyright and includes the lesson plan and powerpoint. This powerpoint gives students scenarios in which they have to decide if the use of the information or media was respectful and kept copyright laws in mind. It also challenges students to make decisions about specific images, information, and media and how they can or cannot be used while keeping fair use guidelines in mind. The lesson provides a lot of critical thinking opportunities for students to apply what they've learned about copyright and fair use.

Digizen - Digicentral - Plagarism

Digizen - Internet Social Networking advice and guidance for young people, parents and teachers
Original Commentary - Digizen created a lesson for teachers to use to help students prevent plagiarism. It includes a lesson plan, an engaging powerpoint presentation that challenges students to identify plagiarism and create their own media without using plagiarism, and a planning sheet to help students make sure they don't plagiarize when creating their own media. While the lesson is very informative and helpful, the planning sheet could be used with any unit or activity that involves students finding and using resources to create their own material.

Digizen - Digicentral - Roleplay scenarious

Digizen - Internet Social Networking advice and guidance for young people, parents and teacher.
Original Commentary - This is a collection of interactive role-play scenarios that students can use to test their knowledge and make decisions about digital citizenship, fair use, and illegally downloading content. Formatted like a game, it will grab student attention and help them learn about concepts while having to think critically about decisions they may face in their own lives concerning such topics. This would be interesting to have students complete both before and after a lesson on ethical use to see how their decisions change.

The Four Factors of Fair Use | Common Sense Education

What rights to fair use do you have as a creator? Check out The Four Factors of Fair Use, a free digital citizenship lesson plan from Common Sense Education, to get your grade 7 students thinking critically and using technology responsibly to learn, create, and participate.
Original Commentary - This lesson produced by CommonSense breaks down the concept of fair use into four main points, helping students grasp information without getting overwhelmed. It acknowledges the fact that middle school students live in a highly digital world with content and information at their fingertips, with many students not aware of the rights of the creators. After covering the topics, this lesson has students discuss and debate with their peers about what they've learned, allowing them to apply the concepts to their lives and think critically about whether or not they share media while keeping fair use in mind. This could be used as a cross-topic activity during a unit on debate or argumentative writing.

The Statute of Anne, an influential copyright law, went into effect in 1710. - ReadWriteThink

Student groups do web research, compile their information, and make a booklet on copyright rules for the class to use as a reference.
Original Commentary - Another lesson by ReadWriteThink, this focuses on a specific copyright law. It encourages students to take charge of their own learning about copyright and collaborate with their classmates to create a guide they believe would be helpful for others. It goes beyond investigation and knowledge acquisition and asks students to apply their learning to create a product. This would be a great activity to conduct either at the end of a unit on ethical use or as a review activity for students who have already learned about such concepts.

Exploring Plagiarism, Copyright, and Paraphrasing - ReadWriteThink

Students investigate issues of plagiarism, fair use, and paraphrasing using KWL charts, discussion, and practice.
Original Commentary - ReadWriteThink has a collection of three lessons that discuss plagiarism, fair use, and paraphrasing and emphasize why students should be respectful and aware of these issues. It includes a variety of strategies including interactive scenarios, challenging students to identify instances of plagiarism, think-pair-share, and more. It also includes a checklist for fair use that would be a great guide for students to have when gathering information to use to create their own media. This would be a great lesson set to open a unit on researching and media creation.

Original Commentary - While this worksheet is aimed at students participating in Student Reporting Labs podcast creation, the information presented is useful for all students using sources while creating their own work. It provides definitions for important concepts such as author's rights and users rights, questions students can ask themselves when making a fair use determination, and an explanation of the codes of best practice in fair use. It even provides a frequently asked questions section that addresses specific situations. This would be a useful guide to give students to use while they research materials for a project, presentation, or paper.

Original Commentary - This infographic breaks down the differences between copyright, free speech, and fair use in a simplistic way that allows students to gain a basic understanding quickly. The infographic also provides a flow chart for students to use to determine if they are using materials correctly. This would also be a great poster to have in a classroom or a good reference guide to include in an interactive notebook.

Original Commentary - This infographic provides quick information to students in an eye catching way about copyright and creative commons. It identifies the ten most important ideas related to copyright and would be a great tool for students to have for quick reference. It would function well as a poster in a classroom or an interactive notebook insert. For students who are intrigued by the information presented in the infographic, there is a QR code included at the bottom for students to scan and read more on

Middle School Independent Learning Videos : Copyright & Creativity

Copyright & Creativity middle school independent learning videos allows high school students to go through some of the course materials at their own pace.
Original Commentary: Copyright and Creativity has compiled a collection of videos aimed at middle school students that cover a wide array of subtopics related to the ethical use of information. These videos break down important concepts like copyright, fair use, public domain, sharing media, creating media, and creative commons in ways that middle schoolers can understand and identify with. They use fun animations and relevant pop culture icons, such as Taylor Swift, to grab attention and make a lasting impact. With no video over 15 minutes, these would be great to use for openers or bell ringer activities in the middle school language arts classroom.

What Is Plagiarism? | Grammar Girl

Did you know that you can plagiarize yourself?
Original Commentary - This is a podcast that explains the basics of plagiarism and how to avoid it. Students hear the word "plagiarism" frequently, but many may never have had instruction on what exactly it involves or been given tips on how to avoid it except being told "use your own words." This podcast is aimed toward middle and high school learners, so it would be useful to listen to in class or assign for homework and discuss the "takeaways" the students received.