Calling Out versus Calling In: Helping youth respond to casual prejudice online Lesson Plan

Grades: 6-8

Duration: 1 hour

Author: MediaSmarts and TELUS

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & CREATE: A Digital Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


Youth are often reluctant to “call out” their friends or peers who say or do prejudiced things online because they’re afraid that others might get mad at them or because they’re not sure if the person intended to be prejudiced. Putting someone on the spot for something they’ve said or done is more likely to make them feel guilty or angry and not likely to change their mind around the impact of their actions, and it can also make the situation about the person who’s “calling out” instead of what the other person said or did.

This lesson introduces students to the idea of “calling in” – reaching out to someone privately with the assumption that they didn’t mean to do any harm – and explores how this idea can be applied both to casual prejudice online and when responding to stereotyping and other negative representations in media. Finally, students explore the different benefits of “calling out” and “calling in”, and consider when the two strategies would be most appropriate.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Identify implicit messages in media texts
  • Think about how different audiences respond differently to media
  • Separate criticism of media and actions from judgment of individuals
  • Develop efficacy in responding to prejudice online
  • Learn the difference between “calling out” and “calling in” in response to prejudice online
  • Judge the drawbacks and benefits of each approach and determine which might be best for different situations

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) are available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.