Just a joke? Helping youth respond to casual prejudice 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.


One of the barriers to youth pushing back against prejudice is not wanting to over-react, particularly if they feel their peers were just ‘joking around.’ Humour, however, can often be a cover for intentional bullying and prejudice. In this lesson, students analyze media representations of relational aggression, such as sarcasm and put-down humour, then consider the ways in which digital communication may make it harder to recognize irony or satire and easier to hurt someone’s feelings without knowing it. Students then consider how humour may be used to excuse prejudice and discuss ways of responding to it.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Understand how certain elements of media contribute to its meaning
  • Analyze the social and political implications of media
  • Recognize and identify irony, sarcasm and satire
  • Understand how we can hurt others with our words, even without meaning to
  • Analyze how digital communication can inhibit empathy
  • Learn techniques to improve online communication and reduce conflict
  • Create an emoji designed to promote a kinder online community
  • Reflect on their learning and work

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