Lesson Plan


This 1 day lesson is designed to get high school students thinking about protecting their privacy online and thinking before they post.
Sara B.
Media specialist/librarian
Portage Central High School
Portage, United States
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Social Studies, Arts, Health & Wellness

Students will be able to...

- Indicate who might be looking at their social media and online presence

- Explain the idea that nothing is private online

- Provide examples of situations where lack of privacy has had major consequences

- Discuss and analyze the effects of bullying or harassment

- Explain what to do if they are being harassed or bullied online

- Explain why adolescents are prone to making rash, impulsive decisions and how to combat that

English Language Arts
Social Studies
Health & Wellness
Grades 9 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Introduction/Hook

I read this article aloud to my students at the start of class. I often have to provide some explanation as to the app Fourscore as our teens aren't using it as they did in the past. We talk about apps that pull information from various others and how important privacy settings are. That leads into the idea of email address, screen names and how they can be telling. How I could find their address online within seconds and how important it is to realize that nothing is private online- credit cards are hacked from superstores, identities are taken regularly, images are leaked from private databases.  

I then pose the question: Who cares? Who would be looking anyway? 

2 Direct instruction- Nothing is private!

I explain to students that coaches are looking (my co-teacher for this lesson is a coach and supports that with some examples), thieves are looking , sometimes creeps and stalkers are looking (co-teacher gives an example of a successful plot to rob a house), and colleges, bosses are looking. 

I provide examples of the process I went through to hire my nanny (googling her name and following that search with others based on things I found, looking at social media postings, etc.), show an article about colleges and LinkedIn, and a video about being careful about what you post.

We talk about consequences to posting too much  (I give examples of friends of mine who have lost jobs or possible promotions because of their online activities).

And then I stress how good social media can be. I give examples of situations where an online presence got someone a job, gave them an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't have had and and how if someone googles their name I want to see results show up that showcase their leadership, motivation, maturity, manners, and how they are well-spoken. 


3 Direct instruction- Think Before You Post

We kickstart the second part of the lesson with the thought that every single person in the room is or will go through something difficult, heartbreaking, and awful in their life. I stress that someone they interact with at our school is likely going through divorce, being abused or has been, someone they love is dying or has died, harassment, homelessness, etc. No one escapes the challenges of life and how a single act can change someones day. We discuss how easy it is to say mean things behind a screen, how easy it is to escape challenging conversations behind a screen, and how hurtful people can be online. I have students provide some examples they have seen or heard of. 

We then watch the TedxTeen video called, "ReThink Before You Post". 

We talk about how you are what you post; you don't get to say "that wasn't me...". If you said it, you own it. And then we talk about what you can do if you are being harassed or bullied online. 

We end with a twitter activity. I share 15 tweets that we collected from students in our school and we have students in groups to analyze the tweets and rate them as funny or a way to bond (I just want a caramel apple from ____" or "I just spilled coffee all over myself. Great start to the day.", possibly hurtful (the kid who sits behind me in math class is so annoying" or "shout out to Mrs. ___ who let us out early"), or drama inducing ("you seriously wore that today?"). We go around and discuss the tweets and talk about how a simple tweet could make waves or create issues. ex. "I'm so lucky my parents raised me right" or "quickly finding out who my real friends are" or "I've officially lost all respect for you."

Lastly, we talk about the fact that on the other hand, some things you have to let slide. We talk about how important resiliency is. That sometimes people take things personally that aren't meant to be- ex. a tweet that said "Just like the seasons... people change". It could be a saying that someone liked, but taken out of context by someone who is sensitive or going through a lot. That sometimes you just have to shrug off the little things and realize that not everyone sees eye to eye, not everyone is going to be nice and kind. That you can't let those things break you.