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What filters hide: a lesson



What filters hide

Students will research common net issues with filtered sites. This lesson goes with information on this SPRC link.


Students try to access several commonly banned (but legitimate) sites. They then will create interview questions for the internet gatekeeper at their school. Students could write a news-feature story on this topic. For an extension activity, students could debate the legitimacy of banned websites. Students could then write an opinion piece on the website gatekeepers


  • Students will discover what types of worthwhile sites are banned by their school district
  • Students will learn the filtering software was mandated by federal legislation.
  • Students will create interview questions for the person in charge of deciding whether to open the “gate”
  • Students will write a story about internet filtering at their school

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
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.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

100 minutes: (two 50-minute class periods)

Computer lab and Internet access

Lesson step-by-step
Day 1

  1. Introduction — 5 minutes            Ask students if they have ever been denied access to a website while researching at school.

Ask students to brainstorm what they were searching for at that time. Either the teacher or the students should write what students say on the board.

Additionally, ask if they know of anyone who has gone around the filtering system by means of a proxie site.

  1. Online readings — 20 minutes

Ask students to read the following stories and take notes on their reading. Please let them know they will be interviewing the person who is in charge of the gatekeeping at their school. Remind students they should be professional in the interview.

Students could also see if they can think of legitimate sites that fall under the following often blocked categories and check to see if they can access the site:

Alcohol and tobacco

Illegal gambling


Drug use



Gross depictions


Search engines

Sports and leisure

Sex education

Sexual acts

Full nudity

Partial/artistic nudity.

  1. Question generation — all but the final 10 minutes of the hour.

Have students create questions based on what they have read. Each student should have between 5-10 good questions for the press conference during the next class.

  1. How to act — 5 minutes

Remind students they need to be polite and courteous, but not be afraid to ask the tough questions.

Day 2

  1. Introduction — 5 minutes

Introduce the speaker and remind students of proper protocol for a press conference.

  1. Interview — remainder of the hour


If the “gatekeeper” isn’t available, students could write an opinion piece about what they researched or a feature article on their research of blocked sites.



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