• Inspiring young people to engage with media in
    thoughtful & creative ways that support well-being.

Cyber Cipher

Media Literacy Curriculum for Grades 7-9

Cyber Cipher recognizes and honors young people’s rich and diverse experiences online — some positive, some negative, some confusing, some empowering. This digital citizenship curriculum starts with the assumption that young people are already thinking deeply about whatever they experience online. Through inquiry-based classroom activities, students will examine the five core tenants of media literacy:

  1. All media are constructed.
  2. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
  3. Different people can experience the same media messages differently.
  4. Every piece of media has values and points of view.
  5. Media messages are often constructed to gain profit and/or power.

Students will practice identifying these core concepts as they critically examine the media they encounter and create their own social media advertisements.

Curriculum Highlights

  • Reflects real-world technology and student experience. The curriculum encourages tech-savvy students to interrogate the inner workings of the digital platforms and online environments they’re familiar with.
  • Designed for maximum flexibility. All of the lessons in this curriculum can also be taught as stand-alone learning experiences or woven into an existing unit.
  • Optimized for engagement and effectiveness. There are numerous opportunities for students to confront and discuss pressing digital issues, as well as showcase their creativity and have fun.

What's Included in the Curriculum?

Cyber Cipher consists of three units, four lessons each, for a total of twelve lessons. Each lesson is introduced by a lesson description, specific learning goals, a list of materials needed, and, when pertinent, a list of vocabulary words. Lessons within each unit build upon one another, though with some adaptation can stand alone. 

In the first unit, students reflect on their own experiences online using the vocabulary and tools that Internet researchers use to make sense of the digital world. The second unit then turns their attention to the digital tools (e.g. apps, websites, devices) they use everyday, and analyze how they work. Students will make the connection between how these tools work and what behaviors and actions they enable and encourage in users. They’ll then be challenged to reimagine these same tools so they encourage different types of experiences. 

Finally, students will create a social media ad for their proposed technology, while also considering the ethical implications of certain design choices. By reimagining what might be, students come to understand that we do not have to be tied to the way things currently are — a crucial step in taking back a sense of control over our digital lives and digital environments. 

It’s important to note that this curriculum is never prescriptive and intentionally does not tell students what actions they should or should not take online or how they should feel about the media they engage with. Instead, it provides the opportunity to co-create meaning and identify divergent perspectives within their classroom community.

How Do I Get Started?

Cyber Cipher includes comprehensive professional learning materials to help teachers build media literacy knowledge and instructional skills for quick and confident curriculum implementation. This includes a detailed Teacher’s Guide with background information, FAQs, vocabulary terms, and further reading.

All lesson plans are provided in Google Docs formats. You also have access to an “Assets” folder, with separate folders for each lesson. Here you will find any worksheets, slide presentations, and PDF handouts that go along with the lessons. Worksheets and homework sheets are generally located at the end of each lesson plan. Submit an inquiry to get more info and access.

Media Power Youth also offers in-person curriculum training for groups of 10 or more educators. We can customize training for specific teams, including a discussion of recent research, as well as best practices for implementation. We also provide consulting services to help schools address media-related issues impacting learning and student life. Contact us for more information.