Student Voice

Create an Acceptable Use Guideline With Your Students

In this lesson, students will learn what about acceptable use guidelines and how they are used. Students will develop a clearer understanding of the TDSB Online Code of Conduct, and will then use this knowledge to create guidelines in student-friendly language for themselves and/or their class to guide their decisions regarding their own Internet safety.

LEARNING GOAL: Students will create acceptable use guidelines in student-friendly language for safe and responsible Internet activity, based on the TDSB’s Online Code of Conduct.

SUGGESTED TIME: Approx. 45 minutes, or 1 period

  • Students need to understand the basics behind passwords (what passwords mean). 
  • Students need basic computer skills and experience using the Internet.
  • Students should have completed lessons in this unit about privacy and anonymity. 

What are acceptable use guidelines? Who writes them? Who is the intended audience?

What do the acceptable use guidelines for the TDSB say that students can and cannot do while using the Internet at school?

Can you write acceptable use guidelines that are personally relevant and directly applicable to what you will be doing online this year?


Review TDSB’s Online Code of Conduct and be familiar with the 7 areas of focus (Personal Safety Rules, Unacceptable Sites and Materials, Use Guidelines, Prohibited Uses and Activities, Consequences, Online Publishing, Liability).

Adjust the content and/or focus of this lesson to reflect the needs of your students and classroom as determined by the “Internet Survey” completed at the beginning of this unit.


Post/project the following scenario on the board at the front of the class:

Your best friend got in trouble and his parents took away his iPad. He is desperate. He begs you to let him use your iPad, saying, “I just need to check one thing for school. Please?” You feel bad for him, and so you let him borrow your iPad for an hour after school. When he brings your iPad back, the background image is different and you notice that some of your apps have been deleted. What do you do?

Working in pairs, discuss what you would do if you were the iPad owner. Share ideas with the whole class, and discuss the concept of following rules, both written and unwritten.

What rules would you put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen to you again?

INTRODUCTION TO NEW MATERIAL - What Are Acceptable Use Guidelines? 

1. What are “Acceptable Use Guidelines”? (“Rules, contracts, permission forms, etc.”)

What do these words mean? 
Have you ever used one? When/where?
What do you think it might be used for?

2. What is the Acceptable Use Policy for the TDSB?

There is no official Acceptable Use Policy for the TDSB. Students and Staff must agree to follow the “Online Code of Conduct” in order to use the board’s online systems and resources. We agree to this every time we login to a computer at school. Let’s read that paragraph now and see if we can understand what it says.

Does this make sense to you? How can we make this document make more sense to us?

GUIDED PRACTICE - Who Is Responsible For These Rules? 

We’ve determined that Acceptable Use Guidelines are a set of rules and expectations to govern behaviour and protect users of technology. But who makes these rules? And who enforces them?

Rings of Responsibility (from

This lesson provokes discussion about the responsibility each student has to themselves, their friends & family, and their community, both online and offline.


Have students stand outside of the Rings of Responsibility. You are going to read a series of statements regarding online responsibilities, and the students should move silently to stand inside of the ring that they think the responsibility corresponds to. For example, if you were to say, “I never reveal my full name online,” students would walk into the innermost ring, “Self” (because people protect themselves by not revealing such private information online).

1. READ the following statements aloud, and pause between each to give students a chance to move accordingly:

I am respectful and kind when communicating online. (Larger Community)
I never reveal my family’s home address. (Friends and Family)
I communicate only with people I know offline. (Self)
I don’t tag a friend in a photo or video unless I have their permission. (Friends and Family)
I never participate in online bullying. (Larger Community)
I think carefully about what I read on the Internet and question if it is from a reliable source. (Self)
I visit sites that are safe and appropriate. (Self)
I give proper credit when using information I found online. (Larger Community)
I never share a friend’s private information. (Friends and Family)
I don’t copy someone else’s words and say that I wrote them. (Larger Community)
I never call people names online. (Larger Community)
I balance my time online and offline. (Self)

2. REVIEW with students that they are responsible for their own behavior, whether it is in the offline world or in the digital (online) world. Encourage them to take their responsibilities – online and offline – seriously, because being responsible is crucial to being good members of the community and to becoming good digital citizens. What are some guidelines or rules that would help the students in this class make good choices and stay safe online?

INDEPENDENT PRACTICE: Create Acceptable Use Guidelines for your class

Using whatever collaborative writing tool works best for you (i.e., chart paper, notebook and document camera, projector and Doc file), re-write the “Online Code of Conduct” in student-friendly language for your class so that it makes sense to all of you. 

What are the rules we need to follow? 
What are the expectations of the TDSB and of our school? 
What will happen if we make a mistake or a bad choice?

Post this document in your classroom. Share it on your class website, if possible.

CONSOLIDATION: Create Your Own Personal Acceptable Use Contract

Using the classroom guidelines as a model, students are asked to demonstrate the full scope of their learning in this unit by creating their own personal acceptable use contract. Refer back to the Essential Questions to guide student-generated Success Criteria for this task. After teacher approval, print this document for each student and have them sign it, then send it home for parents to also sign that they have read it and understand it. (optional to have Principals or other Grade-Team teachers sign as well).

There is so much that goes into being a digital citizen; from taking photos of others to knowing when it is appropriate to share something online. Students need the ability to understand the choices behind their digital interactions. Student voice equals more student buy-in. (from

Possible Extensions

Create infographic/anchor charts for reference in the classroom and/or school using the kid-friendly language developed in your revised Acceptable Use Guidelines 

P/J lesson extension - Digital Citizenship Pledge

P/J lesson extension - make your own Powtoon video to explain your AUG (Ex: AUG Powtoon explanation for kids from Baltimore)