Information Technology Education, Work-Based Learning, Society and Culture
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Assessment, Reading
Middle School
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Digital Footprint
  • Digital Literacy
  • Lesson Plan
  • Social Media
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Self, Community, World

    Self, Community, World


    This lesson plan allows students to reflect on and learn about their digital footprint and social media usage.


    This lesson is built around the ISTE Student Standard for Digital Citizenship: 2a Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world. It is important for students to know and understand that their digital footprint is permanent and has both positive and negative repercussions. This works well as a 45 minute synchronous lesson for grades 7-8.

    Background for Teachers

    To teach this lesson, you will need an understanding of digital citizenship in the context of social media that students use, and the implications of a teenager's digital footprint. Here are some useful articles to learn about student's social media and digital footprint:

    • "What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship": 
    • "5 Ways for Students to Improve Their Social Media Footprint":
    • "12 Tips for Students to Manage Their Digital Footprint":
    • "Digital Footprint: Getting Social":
    • "Social Media and Digital Footprints: Our Responsibilities": 


    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes

    Step 1 Goals and Outcomes

    Learning Intentions:

    • Students will be able to identify positive outcomes and challenges of using social media

    Success Criteria:

    • I can reflect on my digital footprint when using social media


    Step 2 - Planning Instruction

    Step 2 Planning Instruction

    Student Background Knowledge

    Prior to this lesson, students will need to have an understanding of social media applications they use and how to use them. They will consider examples of positive and negative social media use that they see in their school community, families, and in their own social media use.

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    Students will be able to activate their background knowledge on social media use by completing an icebreaker activity. While reading the Newsela article, they have a number of close reading strategies that they have used in class to chunk sections and interact with the text to understand it better. Rather than solely doing assessment based on writing, students are able to demonstrate their knowledge of the topic through small group discussion.

    Step 3 - Instruction

    Step 3 Instruction

    1. Hook - 15 minutes

    Digital Citizenship Speed Dating

    Desks will be in rows with two desks facing one another to facilitate partners. One student will move to another desk after each round, while one student will stay in their assigned desk. Conversation will be for 1.5 minutes to keep it exciting and engaging for each switch - 45 seconds per person. Students will introduce themselves and then discuss the question on the board for each round. The questions/prompts are:

    • Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok: Which could you not give up?
    • Have you ever overshared or seen someone overshare on social media? How did it make you feel?
    • Would you rather talk to a teacher about your grades through email or in person?
    • Have you seen someone be bullied on social media? What did you do? What could you do next time?
    • What are examples of being respectful online?
    • What is digital citizenship?

    Once students are finished, they will go back to their desk and contribute to a discussion board post reflecting on digital citizenship and how they can model it in class/in their own social media life. Students will comment on two other posts using one of the following sentence starters, but must pick a different one for each comment:

    • I agree with you because...
    • Another example is...
    • Can you explain/help me understand...
    • Basically, you are saying that...

    2. Close Reading - 15 minutes

    Students will individually read the article, "Why it's important to be mindful about what you post online." Before they read, they will number the paragraphs, break the text up into chunks, and write the purpose for reading at the top (What are the effects of having an online presence?) 

    As they read, students will:

    • Underline a quote that you found important, startling, moving, confusing, or odd. Write your detailed reaction to it on the side (My reaction is _____ because _____.)

    • Highlight a quote that is evidence of the main idea of the article.

    3. Discussion - 5 minutes

    In groups of 3 at tables, students will discuss the purpose for reading after completing the article.

    Person 1: Share your answer to the purpose for reading (What are the effects of having an online presence?)

    Person 2: Add on to what the first person said Another example is, In addition, Also…

    Person 3: Share your reaction to the quote you underlined

    4. Assessment - 10 minutes

    Students have the choice to

    • write a journal entry or
    • create a Ring of Responsibility drawingon a blank sheet of paper and add color/images. The three rings are:

    rings of responsibility

    In self, students will respond to the following question: 

    What responsibilities do you have to your self when you use social media? How can you be responsible for your own digital footprint?

    In community and world, students will respond to the question:

    What responsibilities do you have to others when using social media? How can you be responsible for others' digital footprints?

    On the outside of the circle, students will:

    Write down one example you would like to use in your own life around being responsible for your own digital footprint … or the footprints of others.  


    If students opt for the journal entry, they will answer the three reflection questions above on a sheet of lined paper.

    Step 4 - Assessments

    Step 4 Assessments

    Several assessments will take place during instruction:

    • Icebreaker: Teacher will use discussions during icebreaker to inform instruction and gauge student's prior knowledge of digital citizenship, social media, and digital footprints.
    • Small Group Discussion: Teacher will get informative data on reading comprehension/reflection of the article while listening to student discussions in tables after the reading.
    • Rings of Reflection: This will be the formative assessment for the instruction and will allow the teacher to collect data on student mastery of the subject.