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Teacher Lesson Return to "Smut Page Survivor"
Smut Page Survivor
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Lesson: Dealing with Online Drama—Reading Comprehension and Writing Response


Objectives:

• Students will practice writing short responses to questions that are based on reading

• Students will discuss online harassment and the consequences of using social media to create “drama”

• Students will understand how social media sites can fuel hate speech and lack of empathy for others

• Students will discuss the positive role of real-life relationships in standing up to online harassment and supporting its victims

Before the lesson:
Write this list of words from the story on the board. You may wish to do a pre-reading lesson in which students learn the definition and practice writing or discussing the words in context:

Sullen
Withdrawn
Secluded
Exaggerate
Reckless
Compassionate
Belittle
Anonymous
Resurface
Hermit

Write the following writing prompt on the board:
“Describe one or more examples of cyberbullying/online harassment that you’ve heard or encountered. How does that kind of harassment affect the person who’s being targeted? Why do you think people participate in online harassment?”

Activity #1: Reading and discussion

Direct students to spend five minutes responding to the writing prompt on the board. Then have them discuss responses with a partner or call on volunteers to share responses with the group:

Then, introduce the lesson by saying something like, “We are going to read a story by Destiny Smith, a teen whose friend was the target of online harassment. Watching a good friend go through this made Destiny realize that cyberbullying and harassment can have serious emotional effects on the victim. She began to question whether spending so much time on social media sites was a good idea.”

Have students read silently or take turns reading short passages of the story aloud to the class. For reinforcement, ask them to underline the key vocabulary words as they read.

Have students work in partners or small groups and discuss the following questions. Have students write out their responses during the discussion. Alternatively, assign a note-taker for each group and a speaker who will report back responses to the entire class. This will ensure that all students participate in the discussion.

• How did Jessica change as a result of the harassment? Look for places in the story where the author describes Jessica’s appearance and behavior before and after the incident.

• What would motivate someone to make a page like that? What do they get out of it? Aside from the risk of getting caught, are there any other drawbacks for the perpetrator in making a page like that?

• What about the people who add comments? Are they thinking about the impact their words have on the victims? Why or why not? Does making those kinds of statements about other people have a negative effect on the person writing those words?

•How do people communicate differently on Facebook and other social media sites than they do in real life? What’s the effect of that?

•Think of at least three things teens can do to discourage online harassment.

Activity #2: Writing

This is a great opportunity to have students practice writing a five-paragraph persuasive essay, which would mean extending the lesson into a second and possibly third day, depending on whether you wish to have students do a full revision. Alternatively, you can have students respond to the questions as a freewrite/journaling exercise. Here’s a possible prompt:

Online harassment and cyberbullying can have serious effects on the people involved. Write an essay in which you describe the adverse (negative) effects of online harassment for both victims and participants, and suggest ways to decrease its prevalence among teens.
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[Other Teacher Resources]
(NYC-2011-11-06)

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