Social Media and Etiquette (Intro to Journalism Students) Unit Plan

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Recently, there has been a lot of discussion at my school about a Twitter handle that, in essence, is a cyber-bully/burn-book type of forum for (presumably) students to tell about the not-so-nice (read: raunchy/inappropriate) things that (apparently) happen at area schools. Whew. 

In fact, at one point, I took it upon myself to request to have Twitter shut it down. While that worked for a while (our school became involved after Twitter said it was a free speech issue...) the handle is back up. And I know that we as a district (and as an education system in general) need to address social media with our students, instead of waiting to react to a situation after it's out of hand. 

So, I did the next best thing I could do at this point - modify the social media lesson I already give to my Intro to Journalism students. 

Below is my online agenda (what the kids see). I've added to it for this post IN RED for the educator.

Unit: Social Media and Etiquette

Purpose: To understand the uses of social media in the world today

Standards: Based on Iowa CTE Standards
SYSTEMS: Understand roles within teams, work units, departments, organizations, inter-organizational systems, and the larger environment.  Identify how key organizational systems affect organizational performance and the quality of products and services. Understand global context of industries and careers.
CTE ETHICS AND LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES: Know and understand the importance of professional ethics and legal responsibilities.

Essential Questions: How can social media be responsibly used when reporting?
How can social media be used to promote student media?

--------------- Social / Digital Media ------------
Bell Ringer: Answer: How can social media be responsibly used when reporting?
How can social media be used to promote student media?

Introduction to Social Media - Discussion - lead with how I see social media today affecting media first, then students. Examples include Twitter, Facebook, Cyber-bullying, etc.
Definition of SOCIAL MEDIA (Webster's) : forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).

    5Ws and How 

Task: Name three things you learned from the (second) video on a piece of paper. Why are they important to you as a student? Journalist? Student Journalist? (Ticket out). 

Discuss responses. While watching second video, to show power of Social Media, I created a poll (Linked below) and sent out via school Twitter, personal Twitter, school Facebook page, and personal Facebook page. Define etiquette. 

HOMEWORK: What does Social Media etiquette mean to you? Answer in 2-3 paragraphs for you and in general (high school students) in a Google doc titled Etiquette.

Bell Ringer: Check out these poll results so far (you can click here) Discussion. Leads to anonymity discussion. How I view, how they view. 

We discuss if anonymity and conformity are relevant in journalism. 

HOMEWORK: make sure the tasks Writing task asks students to talk about a time feeling invisible. Small groups answer if conformity and anonymity are synonymous in the Prezi are done in a Google doc titled "Anonymity"

Bell Ringer: Turn in writing tasks from yesterday (email me the doc)

Discussion relates back to anonymity, the censorship, and freedom of speech granted to us. 
Task: Create a doc and title it Censorship
Answer: Why is censorship important (if it is)? 
     Talk about censorship on the world scale, the relationship of the US/China scale, and locally - if there is such a thing).
     Use any writing style we've practiced (Hard News, Opinion, Feature). Have a quote from a source other than yourself. Do at the end of the period.

Bell Ringer: Answer: How can social media be responsibly used when reporting?
How can social media be used to promote student media?

Using what you know about social media, anonymity, conformity, and/or censorship - with a partner, write a set of social media rules for students, journalists, and student journalists. (20 Minutes)
My rules for them are they have to be generic enough for everyone to follow, but specific enough to be understood and should have examples. After 10 minutes, most students have 5-10 rules. I tell them to then edit the list to the five best rules (word them differently, etc). 

We will then create a combined list as a class to share. 

Our List of Social Media Etiquette Rules: 
1. Don't type anything you'll regret because there are always consequences and your opinion may differ, sometimes you need to censor yourself.
2. You can't delete. Somebody's shared it even if you don't have it anymore.
3. The internet is really bad at keeping secrets.
4. Choose your online company wise. Guilt is by association.

If you tried this out, share your list with us here! You can tweet me @swift360 to share as well.

Rob Lindquist


I do a lot of things. The best thing I do is fathering (I think). I'm the ol' "Jack of all trades, Master of none." I teach aspiring journalists. I run. I play guitar(s). I also host a running podcast. Oh, and I dabble in drawing. And I dabble in authoring... children's books no less. I just dabble. Sometimes I ramble.


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