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Creating social media policies


This lesson prompts students to review and develop policies suitable for a staff manual for entrepreneurial activities related to engaging with an audience, particularly social media, marketing and public relations. Students will review policies from other schools as well as suggestions from JEA’s Communication: Journalism Education Today magazine and develop a working social media policy in a team.

Creating a public relations policy could be part of the bigger lesson “Creating a Staff Manual” in the Leadership and Team Building module.


  • Students will suggest sample social media policies that MVHS could have implemented to anticipate and alleviate some of the negative reactions toward the football story.
  • Students will read and analyze the actual MVHS policies that came out of the football story controversy and compare/contrast them with their own views.
  • Students will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the MVHS social media policies, as well as example social media, marketing and public relations policies from other high schools.
  • Students will analyze and annotate sample social media, marketing and public relations policies from other high schools to determine their own preferences and see examples of what can, and should, be included in a set of public relations policies.
  • Students will collaborate with classmates to conduct their analysis and evaluation of other staff policies and to develop their own sample social media policies.
  • Students will create a social media policy for public relations and marketing that takes into account audience preferences, ethical behavior and ideas/suggestions from other high schools.
  • Students will evaluate others’ social media policy ideas and suggest changes.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2a Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2b Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2c Use appropriate and varied transitions to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2e Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2f Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grades 9–10here.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1a Use parallel structure.*


150 minutes (three 50-minute classes)


Handout: MVHS policies

Handout: Policy annotation assignment

Handout: Policy writing assignment

Handout: Policy regarding social media in the classroom, by Matthew Schott, in Communication: Journalism Education Today

Rubric: Collaboration rubric

Rubric: Social media rubric

Assessment: Audience interaction quiz

Key: Audience interaction quiz

Case Study Rubric

Poster paper (11×17 paper)


Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

1. Small group work —15-20 minutes

Break students into small groups and prompt them to share their 3-5 written and developed ideas about the types of policies MVHS students could have had in place along with their social media platforms in order to better prevent the school disruption. Students should look for similarities and differences between their ideas and see if any of their policy ideas can be combined.

2. Comparison and group discussion — 20-25 minutes

Display the policies developed by MVHS and prompt students to analyze them for the following. This discussion could be whole-class or conducted in small groups or pairs first and then synthesized as a whole class.

  • What do you like about them? Dislike?
  • How are they similar to and different from your own policy ideas?
  • Would you add or subtract anything? Why?
  • To what extent do these policies effectively address the specific situation?
  • What kinds of implications might there be for audience interaction based on these policies?
  • How might each of the following groups react to these policies?
    • Principal
    • Teachers
    • Parents
    • Students
    • Other members of the community

3. Homework — remainder of class

Distribute the policy annotation assignment and explain that students should read the attached social media, marketing and public relations policies and mark them up according to the described system. They should also answer the questions at the end. This can be done alone or in pairs, or a combination of both, according to the teacher’s preference. Students should have the rest of the class period to work on this assignment and part of the next lesson. Consider using the case study rubric to grade this work.

Day 2

1. Audience Interaction Quiz — 20 minutes

Distribute the audience interaction quiz to assess students’ developing understanding of audience engagement.

2. Developing a sample social media policy — 35-40 minutes

Distribute the policy writing assignment and review the instructions, prompting students to fully develop a sample social media policy for an existing or fictional publication/publications. There are several levels of differentiation available for this assignment; choose what fits best in your context. Consider reviewing the format for policy-writing style and encourage students to use proper mechanics and parallel structure. Students should have about 30 minutes to work after these instructions.

Day 3

1. Poster creation — 35-40 minutes

Give students 35-40 minutes to finish developing their policies, mounting them on an 11×17 poster when they are complete. Hang these posters around the room as students finish them.

2. Peer policy feedback — 15-20 minutes

When all of the groups are done, prompt students to choose a colored marker and walk around the room from group to group, writing notes in the margins and engaging in a “silent conversation” about the developed social media policies. At the end of the discussion period, each group should have a full poster of written feedback from their peers.

3. Reflection on student-created policy — 5 minutes

After this, student groups should retrieve their posters and review the notes their classmates left for them, answering the following questions on the back of their poster:

  • Describe the strengths and weaknesses of your developed policies.
  • Explain 1-2 policies that other student groups developed that you did not address and that you would want to add to your own policies.
  • Describe what steps you would take next to make these policies ready for a staff manual and presentation to the principal/school board as official publications policies.

4. Wrap up large group discussion — 5 minutes

Given remaining time, debrief the activity with students:

  • What common trends did they notice among all of their policies?
  • Other than their own, which set of policies did they most like?