My Online Self (6-8)

How do you present yourself to others on the Internet?

Students investigate how they express their identities off and online and discover that they have choices about how they present themselves to others online.

Download the lesson plan

Students first explore different aspects of who they are by playing the “Three Facts, One Fiction” game. They then watch the Self-Expression and Identity Student Intro Video, and discuss how online and offline personalities can be both similar and different. Students then explore their own personalities on and off the Internet by completing the Offline/Online Me Student Handout.

Students will be able to ... 

  • recognize that they have unique characteristics that make up their identities.
  • discover that people express their identities through offline and online roles, which can sometimes differ from one another in significant ways.
  • explore their own offline and online personalities.
  • understand that the Internet gives them the freedom to make choices about how they present themselves to others online.

Materials and Preparation

  • Preview the animated video “You Online, You Offline,” and prepare to show it to students.
  • Copy the Offline/Online Me Student Handout, one for each student.
  • Review the Offline/Online Me Student Handout – Teacher Version and be prepared to guide students through the creation of their diagrams.
  • Copy the Partner Profile Student Handout, one for each student (Optional). 

 

Teaching Plans

introduction

Warm-up

WRITE the Key Vocbulary word identity on the board.

ASK: What does the word identity mean to you?
Encourage students to respond with their first impressions.

REVIEW the vocabulary word identity.

ASK: What things make up someone’s identity?
Guidestudents to consider the parts of their identities that they’re born with, such as race, ethnicity, gender, eye color, and overall appearance. Also encourage them to think about the parts of their identities that are more open to change or that others help to shape, such as their talents and hobbies, dreams and goals, memories and experiences, and the communities they are part of. List students’ responses on the board, and encourage the class to discuss them.

teach 1

Three Facts, One Fiction

ARRANGE students into groups of four, and make sure they have paper and pens.

INVITE students to play the “Three Facts, One Fiction” game by writing down four things about themselves.  They should begin each sentence with the words “I am …” Tell students that three of the things they write should be true, and one should be something they made up.

ENCOURAGE students to make the game more fun by choosing interesting or unusual facts about themselves that their classmates might not know. Some of the facts should reflect their experiences and accomplishments, while others should describe part of their personalities. In addition, suggest that students invent a fictional statement about themselves that other students might believe.

Sample responses:

  • I am a state swimming champion
  • I am the youngest of six kids in my family
  • I am afraid of spiders
  • I am shy when I meet new people

INVITE students to read aloud the four statements about themselves, and have others in their group guess which one is made up.

DISCUSS with students what they learned about each other by playing the game.

ASK: Did you learn anything about your classmates that you didn’t know before? How hard was it to figure out which statements were true and which one was made up? What clues helped you decide?
Students may say they used their existing knowledge of their classmates to decide which statement was most likely to be invented. They also may say they used visual or voice clues to tell when their classmates were not telling the truth.

ASK: What if you told someone your three facts and one fiction on the Internet? Do you think it would be easier to make something up about yourself online than in person? Do you think other people would be more likely to believe it? Why or why not?
Encourage students to think about how it might be easier to make something up, exaggerate, or change their personalities on the Internet, because they are not interacting with someone face to face. In addition, students are more likely to communicate with strangers on the Internet than in person. Use this point to emphasize that people may not always present themselves on the Internet the way they do in person.

teach 2

Offline/Online Me

INTRODUCE the activity by telling students that you will be showing them a video about a boy named Jamie. Ask students to notice, as they watch, the ways Jamie is different – and the same – online and offline. Create two columns on the board, headed “Offline Jamie” and “Online Jamie.”

REVIEW the Key Vocbulary term identity. Tell students they will be looking for similarities and differences between Jamie’s identities offline and online.

SHOW students the animated video "You Online, You Offline."

ASK students to describe what Jamie was like offline and online.

Sample responses - Offline:

  • He uses emoticons to show he is happy
  • The tone of his voice makes him seem friendly
  • He likes to read
  • He feels shy
  • He’s probably about 11 or 12
  • He rides a skateboard

Sample responses - Online:

  • He has many different avatars
  • The emoticons that he uses show that he likes to have fun
  • He seems friendly (e.g., comments about Harry Potter)
  • Can express himself (e.g., announcing his new novel)
  • Sometimes he lies about his age
  • He presents himself as someone who parties

POINT OUT that Jamie seems friendly both online and offline, and that he is interested in books and writing in both places. However, Jamie seems a little freer and more expressive online. For example, he proudly announces his novel online when he is too shy to do it offline. He also pretends to be older online than he is offline, which leads to unexpected consequences.

ARRANGE students in groups of three or four and distribute copies of the Offline/Online Me Student Handout, one for each student. Students should work in groups and exchange ideas, but each student should complete his or her own handout.

EXPLAIN that in the next part of the activity, students will identify and describe some of their own offline and online personalities. After looking at a sample diagram showing the personality of a girl named Maria, they will fill in their own diagrams. Then they will compare their offline and online personalities, and talk about the similarities and differences.After students have completed their diagrams, have them talk about the discussion questions on the student handout in groups, and then share their answers with the class.

ENCOURAGE students to consider what their answers show about how and why many people are different offline and online. Ask them to generalize, based on their own answers and those of their classmates. Sample responses:

  • Offline you get to see people’s faces and reactions when talking with them
  • Offline it can be harder to change who you are or what you look like
  • Offline you can hang out with people in the same space
  • Both online and offline you can find people with similar interests
  • Online you may feel more free to do things that you might not do offline
  • Online you might feel like you can be bolder and more outgoing
  • Online you might change the facts about who you are; for example, you may say you are a different age or have different talents or a different appearance

INVITE students to discuss why it might become a problem if their online identities are too different from their offline identities. (It’s fun to express different parts of yourself online, but it might be harmful to take on a completely false identity.)

REMIND students that they are the creators of their online personalities. This means they can present some aspects of those personalities that they may be too shy or hesitant to express offline. Ask them if there is an aspect of their identity that they would want to express online that they are too shy to do offline.

closing

Wrap-up

You can use these questions to assess your students’ understanding of the lesson objectives. You may want to ask students to reflect in writing on one of the questions, using a journal or an online blog/wiki. 

ASK: How did Jamie and Maria’s online identities differ from their offline identities? Were there ways their differences resembled one another? Students may observe that both Jamie and Maria seemed to be more outgoing online.

ASK: How would you summarize the relationship between your own offline and online personalities?
Students' answers will vary.

ASK: Do you have choices about how you present yourself to others online? How does your online personality reflect these choices?
Students' answers will vary.

REVISIT the discussion about identity from the lesson introduction. Make sure students understand that many core aspects of who they are do not change, even when they take on different roles.

Extension & At-Home

Extension & At-Home

EXTENSION ACTIVITY

Have students work in pairs to create online profiles of a partner. Hand out the Partner Profile Student Handout. Give students 10 minutes to interview one another. Encourage them to take notes. Then have them create a profile for their partner that shows the partner’s personality. Discuss the following questions with students when they are finished.

  • What kinds of things did you include in your partner’s profile? How did you make decisions about what to include?
  • How is your partner’s online profile the same or different from who this person is offline?
  • How might others think of your partner based on the profile?

AT-HOME

Have students create an online profile for themselves on a large sheet of paper (or two sheets taped together). Suggest they use the same categories listed in the extension activity, and invite them to create additional categories of their own. Students should use photos and drawings, and design their profiles to look like a webpage. Encourage students to think carefully about how the material they choose to include in their profiles might affect the way they present themselves to others online.

Alignment with Standards

Common Core & NETS•S
Source: 
Common Core State Standards Initiative ©2012 & National Educational Technology Standards for Students ©2007, International Society for Technology in Education

Common Core:

  • grade 6: RI.2, RI.3, RI.4, RI.5, RI.7, RI.8, W.4, W.6, W.10, SL.1a-d, SL.2, SL.3, SL.5, SL.6, L.6
  • grade 7: RI.2, RI.3, RI.8, RI.10, W.6, W.10, SL.1a-d, SL.2, SL.5, SL.6, L.6
  • grade 8: RI.2, RI.4, RI.8, RI.10, W.2, W.4, W.10, SL.1a-d, SL.2, SL.5, SL.6, L.6

NETS•S: 1a, 5a