Digital Literacy Framework - Grades 9-12

Given their autonomy, teens can no longer be forbidden to do things, especially online. Rigid bans don’t work because teens are at an age where they are trying to establish their own rules and can easily get around those they disagree with. More importantly, heavy restrictions shut down discussions between adults and teens about how to safely diminish risks, which teens are very interested in doing. 

Contrary to popular belief, cyberbullying remains a problem in high school. Students in these grades should learn the ways that they can speak out and make a difference, both in cases of individual cyberbullying and in building more tolerant and respectful online spaces.

Cell phone ownership also peaks in older grades. That makes it essential to teach these students how to balance their online and offline lives and deal with the stresses of social media. Because teens are constantly building a digital footprint as they send and share content online, it’s also important that they learn how to make a positive impression and to consider the need to get consent before sharing a photo or any other content belonging to someone else.

Secondary students turn to the Internet for news and current affairs, making it essential that they learn to use finding and verifying skills both inside and outside the classroom.

Teens depend on media such as TV shows, magazines, the Web and social media to learn about topics of interest, especially subjects that are embarrassing or taboo such as sexuality, relationships and mental health issues. Media literacy education is also needed to critically engage with representations of sexuality in media.

Young Canadians in a Wired World backgrounders:
Profiles of Kids in Grades 8-9
Profiles of Kids in Grades 10-11



Alcohol on the Web
Grades: 9-10

In this lesson, students explore issues surrounding the marketing of alcoholic beverages on the Internet.  

Art Exchange
Grades: 9-12

The purpose of the lesson is to facilitate and develop youth art as a form of community engagement and give students the opportunity to explore their experiences with privacy and equality in networked spaces.

Authentication Beyond the Classroom
Grades: 9-10

In this lesson, students discuss “viral” photos, videos and news stories that spread via social media. They are shown how challenging it is to authenticate these using only their content and are introduced to tools and techniques for gauging their accuracy based on context.  

Bias in News Sources
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson students consider the meaning of the words “bias” and “prejudice” and consider how bias may be found even at the level of individual words due to connotation. Students are introduced to the key media literacy concept that media contain ideological messages and have social and political implications in considering why it is particularly important to consider possible bias in news reporting.  

Break the Fake Lesson Plan: Verifying Information Online
Grades: 6-9

In this lesson, students participate in a workshop that teaches them four quick, easy steps to verify online information. After practicing these four steps they create a public service announcement aimed at teaching one of these steps and spreading the message that it is necessary for everyone to fact-check information we see online every time we are going to share it or act on it.

Challenging Hate Online
Grades: 10-12

In this lesson students learn how digital media is used to promote or combat hatred and intolerance.  

Click if You Agree
Grades: 7-9

This interactive game helps students make sense of legal documents for websites and apps.  

Cyberbullying and the Law
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students learn about and discuss the legal aspects of cyberbullying.  

Dealing With Digital Stress
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson students reflect on the ways in which digital media can cause stress.  

Deconstructing Web Pages
Grades: 7-10

In this lesson students apply the “5Ws of Cyberspace” to sources of information they find online. Assuming the role of a student researching a science project, students must authenticate the information in an online article about the artificial sweetener, aspartame.  

Digital Outreach for Civic Engagement
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students will design a community outreach promotional campaign in order to effect real change that matters to them.

Digital Media Experiences are Shaped by the Tools We Use: The Disconnection Challenge
Grades: 7-12

In this lesson, students consider the role of technology and media in their lives and then spend a week either tracking or limiting their media use. They then share their experiences and discuss how the ways that digital media tools are made may cause us to use them differently (or simply more often). Finally, students draw on those insights to create a mindful media use plan. In an optional extension activity, they interview other students for a video exploring their experiences and reflections over the course of the project.

Digital Skills for Democracy: Assessing Online Information to Make Civic Choices
Grades: 9-12
In this activity, students:
•   think about the importance of making sure they have trustworthy information before they make a decision on a political or
    electoral issue
•   explore a series of scenarios designed to teach five strategies for verifying information: find the original, verify the source, check other
    information, read fact checking articles, and turn to places you trust 
•   reflect on the impact of false and misleading information in politics

Digital Storytelling for Civic Engagement
Grades: 9-12

n this lesson, students will create a Digital Story which addresses a topic, theme or issue that is affecting them. All stages of production will be covered, including research, storyboarding their idea into a visual organizational layout, practicing capturing quality photographs and interviews, and finally weaving their Digital Story into a finished project using computer editing software.  

Film Classification Systems in Québec
Grades: 11-12

In this lesson students learn about the systems used to classify films, TV programs and video games. Students are asked to take a critical look at the criteria applied to classify these media products, and then take into account and discuss the underlying social and political aspects arising from those systems.  

First, Do No Harm: Being an Active Witness to Cyberbullying
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students consider how difficult and complicated it can sometimes be to do the right thing. Students are asked to consider whether they agree with a number of widely-held moral principles and then are asked to consider a moral dilemma in which a number of moral principles are in conflict, reflecting on how their view of it may change based on the details of the scenario.  

First Person
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson students consider diversity representation in video games by identifying examples of diversity in the games they play, comparing their findings to statistics on diversity in the Canadian population.  

Free Speech and the Internet
Grades: 10-12

In this lesson students learn about the inherent tension within democratic societies between freedom of expression and freedom from hatred. They also learn how Canada has addressed these issues within the Criminal Code of Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights legislation in Canada.  

Hate 2.0
Grades: 8-10

In this lesson students learn about the ways in which hate may be encountered online strategies for confronting online hate.  

Hate or Debate?
Grades: 8-10

In this lesson students learn about the difference between legitimate debate on a political issue and arguments that are based on hate.

Hoax? Scholarly Research? Personal Opinion? You Decide!
Grades: 10-12

This lesson is designed to help students determine the validity of information that is presented to them on the Internet. After reviewing a series of evaluation techniques for online resources, students form groups to assess selected websites based on accuracy and authority, advocacy and objectivity, and currency and coverage.  

I heard it ‘round the Internet: Sexual health education and authenticating online information
Grades: 7-9

In this lesson students consider the use of the Internet as a research tool and learn how to use search engines more effectively. They then apply these newfound skills to investigating popular myths about sexuality and contraception.  

Impact! How to Make a Difference When You Witness Bullying Online
Grades: 7-9

In this lesson, students discuss reasons why they might be reluctant to intervene when they witness cyberbullying and identify ways that they can help without making things worse. They then use the interactive tool Impact! How to Make a Difference When You Witness Bullying Online to help them decide how to navigate scenarios relating to being a witness to bullying, and share their experiences to help them understand how important it is to think carefully before you act.  

Introduction to Online Civic Engagement
Grades: 9-12

Students are introduced to civic education through a series of activities which will ask them to work together to engage with their larger communities through curiosity, conversation and creation.  

Making Media for Democratic Citizenship
Grades: 11-12

In this lesson students create a video podcast to present balanced, unbiased perspectives on global development issues. They voice their perspectives through the language, codes and conventions of a visual medium.  

Making Your Voice Heard: A Media Toolkit for Youth
Grades: 9-12

This toolkit is designed to help young people understand how the news industry works, why youth stereotyping happens and how they can access media to get positive youth voices and stories heard.  

Mixed Signals: Verifying Online Information
Grades: 7-9
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In this lesson, students examine two websites about unlikely animals and learn how to effectively evaluate online sources. They then create a fake website that demonstrates the misleading signals that are often mistakenly taken as signs of reliability.

MyWorld: A digital literacy tutorial for secondary students (licensed resource) 
Grades: 7-12

This tutorial aims to teach students essential digital literacy skills through simulating their favourite online experiences. The tutorial is divided into four chapters, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of digital literacy: researching and authenticating online information, managing privacy and reputation, dealing with online relationships and using digital media in an ethical manner.  

Online Cultures and Values
Grades: 11-12

In this lesson, students are introduced to basic concepts of anthropology and ethnography and explore how they apply to online communities. After performing a digital ethnography project on the norms and values of an online community, students consider how a community’s norms and values are formed and how they can be shaped andinfluenced.

Online Gambling and Youth
Grades: 11-12

In this lesson, students look at the ways in which online gambling draws in youth and increases the risk that they will become problem gamblers.  

Online Marketing to Kids: Protecting Your Privacy
Grades: 6-9

This two lesson unit on online marketing explores the various ways companies use the Internet to target young people. The first lesson introduces students to the ways in which commercial websites collect personal information from kids and to the issues surrounding children and privacy on the Internet.  

Online Marketing to Kids: Strategies and Techniques
Grades: 6-9

The second lesson in the Online Marketing to Kids unit introduces students to the online marketing techniques that are used to target children on the Internet.  

Online Propaganda and the Proliferation of Hate
Grades: 10-12

In this lesson students learn about the ways that propaganda techniques are used to promote hatred and intolerance online.  

Online Relationships: Respect and Consent
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson students use mind maps to explore concepts of “respect” and “consent” in an online context.  

Privacy Rights of Children and Teens
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students learn ways to find out what personal information may or has been collected by platforms that they use, how to limit data collection about themselves, and the various forms of recourse that are available to them if they feel an organization is not respecting their rights.

Promoting Ethical Behaviour Online
Grades: 7-9

In this lesson students learn about ways to manage their privacy and reputation online by exploring their digital presence and to make good choices about sharing other people’s content online.  

PushBack: Engaging in Online Activism
Grades: 7-9

This lesson explores how young people can use online media for activism on issues that matter to them. 

Reality Check: Authentication 101
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students consider the different factors that make online sources reliable or unreliable. They then learn quick steps they can take to gauge an online source’s reliability and practice these steps by playing an interactive online game. Finally, students create a media product to teach other students how to do one of the tactics they’ve learned.

Reality Check: Authentication and Citizenship
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students consider the ways in which misinformation can have an impact on history and politics. After discussing a number of historical examples of misinformation, they examine the ways in which news sources may be biased and use an interactive online game to practice skills in getting more context on a story. 

Reality Check: Getting the Goods on Science and Health
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students start by considering the wide range of science and health information they are likely to encounter in news or through social media. They read an article on a scientific topic to help them understand the particular challenges of verifying science and health information and then use an educational computer game to practice skills in critically reading health and science stories. Finally, students compile a list of reliable sources they can turn to for verifying health and science stories.

Reality Check: News You Can Use
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students consider the meanings of the term “fake news” and learn facts about the news industry that will help them recognize legitimate sources of news.

Reality Check: We Are All Broadcasters
Grades: 9-12
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In this lesson, students consider the ways in which our own biases can prevent us from being objective. They then learn ways to recognize and account for our biases and practice these by playing an interactive online game. Finally, students learn about how public service campaigns can change social norms and create their own PSA to promote ethical sharing of online information.

Relationships and Sexuality in Media
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson students learn to question media representations of gender, relationships and sexuality.  

Remixing Media
Grades: 10-12

In this lesson, students examine different types of remixes – from works created by editing a single text to ones that draw inspiration from existing texts – in order to develop a definition of “remix.”  

Respecting Yourself and Others Online Workshop
Grades: 7-10

This workshop provides tweens and young teens with strategies and knowledge that will help them respect themselves, respect others and respect the space when using social media.  

Secure Comics
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students read an interactive online comic that teaches them key concepts and skills relating to three cybersecurity topics: malware, passwords and privacy from geotracking devices. Following this, students research their own cybersecurity topics and learn how non-fiction comics are made in order to create their own Secure Comic.  

Scapegoating and Othering
Grades: 8-10

In this lesson students develop a deeper understanding of scapegoating and othering and how these factors may contribute to the promotion of hatred and intolerance.  

Shaking the Movers: Youth Rights and Media
Grades: 9-10

In this lesson students discuss the concept of human rights and then learn how these ideas led to the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  

Taming the Wild Wiki
Grades: 7-9

In this lesson students are introduced to Wikipedia, the user-edited online encyclopedia, and given an overview of its strengths and weaknesses as a research source. They are taught how to evaluate the reliability of a Wikipedia article and then attempt to improve an existing article.  

Technology Facilitated Violence: Criminal Case Law Lesson Plan
Grades: 11-12 

This lesson plan explores the relationship between technology and the law by examining how the criminal law responds to technologically facilitated violence (TFV). Not only will it enhance students’ understanding of the legal meaning of key terms such as “violence”, it will also engage them in dialogue about the surrounding social and legal issues and the ways in which new and emerging technologies are affecting the relationship between the law and technology. Through the exploration of Canadian case studies, and subsequent discussion, students will develop their knowledge on legal implications of various forms of TFV such as harassing communications, criminal harassment, unauthorized use of computer systems, non-consensual disclosure of intimate images (sometimes referred to as “revenge porn”), and hate propaganda. Students will use materials from The eQuality Project’s “Technology-Facilitated Violence: Criminal Case Law” database to research recent Canadian case law involving TFV, better understand the concept of “violence” and the wide range of acts that fall within TFV, as well as the available criminal legal resources and potential outcomes for those affected. 

The Citizen Reporter
Grades: 9-12

This lesson begins with a brief history of citizen journalism and a discussion of just what it is. Students are introduced to the key media literacy concept that media are constructions that re-present reality and consider how the traditionally “white” makeup of Canadian journalism might affect the content of Canadian news. They then discuss the effects of the increasing ability of ordinary citizens to cover, broadcast and comment on news and compare mainstream news sources and citizen journalism in terms of accuracy, completeness and diversity representation.  

The Invisible Machine: Big Data and You
Grades: 8-10 

In this lesson, students examine a fictional social network profile to learn how online platforms collect data about their users. They then read an article that explains how platforms use this data and explores some of the issues this raises. Finally, they create a mind map of their own online data profile and reflect on how the data they post may be collected and used by others. 

The Pornography Debate: Controversy in Advertising
Grades: 11-12

In this lesson, through classroom discussion, students are introduced to the issue of pornography. Students will understand the difficulty in determining the sometimes very fine lines between erotica, freedom of expression, and sexual exploitation and to familiarize them with guidelines for making these distinctions.  

The Privacy Dilemma: Lesson Plan for Senior Classrooms
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson students consider and discuss the trade-offs we all make on a daily basis between maintaining our privacy, and gaining access to information services.  

There’s no excuse: confronting moral disengagement in sexting
Grades: 11-12

In this lesson, students learn about the “sneaky excuses” that can convince us to do things that we know are wrong. After learning about the different types of these excuses, students watch and discuss a series of videos in which the excuses are used to justify forwarding sexts without the original sender’s consent. Finally, students create their own videos in which the excuses used to justify sharing sexts with other people are illustrated and most importantly, countered.

Thinking About Hate
Grades: 8-10

In this lesson students develop their critical thinking skills by learning to recognize various types of logical fallacies, including those that are used by hate mongers to spread misinformation and fuel hatred and intolerance.  

Video Games
Grades: 7-9

In this lesson students are introduced to the ways video games may impact their mental and physical health.  

What Students Need to Know about Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy
Grades: 11-12

These guides, created by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, provide an opportunity for teachers and their students to discuss why access to government-held information and personal privacy are important public values and how these values are reflected in our relationships with governments.  

Who Knows? Your Privacy in the Information Age
Grades: 8-10

In this lesson students explore issues relating to privacy through a series of activities, surveys and quizzes.  

Who’s Telling My Story?
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson students learn about the history of blackface and other examples of majority-group actors playing minority-group characters such as White actors playing Asian and Aboriginal characters and non-disabled actors playing disabled characters.  

Your Connected Life: A Teen’s Guide to Life Online
Grades: 9

This guide is designed to help students who are just entering high school balance the demands of their offline life with their digital one.  

Your Online Resume
Grades: 9-12

In this lesson, students learn that their online presence is like a resume that can help them – or hurt them – in their future personal and professional lives.