Exploring Creative Commons: A Brief Introduction


A major part of my curriculum is teaching K-8 grades students about digital citizenship. Students are immersed in lessons about digital citizenship and literacy at different levels of sophistication, learning about the what, why, and how of ethical use and sharing of information. Since even our youngest students produce shareable blogs, these lessons are authentic. In 1st grade, I introduce the idea of a creator’s ownership and introduce the term copyright. By 3rd grade, students learn about Creative Commons and Public Domain and retrieve digital images from photosforclass.com, commons.wikimedia.org, and openclipart.org. In 4th grade, students delve more deeply into the concept of Creative Commons by choosing a license for their blogs. This requires students to consider whether and under what terms they are willing to share their creative work. The definition of a Creative Commons license is as follows:

From Wikipedia


For a brief summary of the six main licenses offered by Creative Commons,
please visit Licensing Types.


Using my library blog and my professional blog as examples, I explain the rationale for my choice of a Creative Commons license. As users of digital information, by 4th grade my students understand the importance of sharing while attributing sources. To underscore this idea, I show them Common Craft’s video Copyright and Creative Commons, which tells the story of Julia, a photographer who would love to publish her photos online but is concerned about losing control of her creative work due to the fact that anything online is easily copied. After some research, she discovers that Creative Commons provides a good compromise, allowing her to share her work while still maintaining some rights.

Students visit CreativeCommons.org to choose their license. By simply answering two questions, a license is automatically created in HTML code and ready to be embedded. My students grab the code and paste it into the sidebars or footers of their blogs.


To demonstrate mastery of the meaning of Creative Commons vocabulary — adaptation, share-alike, non-derivative, and commercial — students created a brief video explaining their license choice. They used the Book Creator app for iPad to draw their chosen license and then record an interpretation.

While these concepts are not easily comprehended by elementary students, continuous review and application teaches students not only to be ethical consumers of information but also to think more critically about their own role as information creators.

See Skyler’s license on his blog.

See Sadie’s license on her blog.

See Efrat’s license on her blog.


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