Social Media Smackdown!

Looking to add a little social media flair to a humanities lesson? Then let’s get ready to rummmmmmmble!

In honor of WrestleMania week (don’t judge), I figured I’d throw a a friendly bit of peer-vs-peer press coverage into my regularly scheduled “ring” of literature study to help students get a fuller sense of character, setting, and plot. To help make the text even more accessible, I pulled it all together in an activity I like to call the “Social Media Smackdown.” The default template is created for a lesson plan on The Great Gatsby, but the activity can easily be re-skinned to fit any humanities course or content area from Hamlet to Hamilton, and scaled up or down to meet the unique requirements of any grade level.

Picture this…

You’ve just been hired as a consultant to a high-powered public relations firm. Image is everything, and the gossip in New York City is insidious. It’s up to you to attract as many eyes to your client as possible! So you’ll need to work with your high-powered celebrity to develop the most well-rounded social media profile in the market today — which means you’ll have to help them manage the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Activity Setup:

  1. Divide students into four different teams, and have each team select ONE character from your common text of study.
  2. Provide all students in class with EDIT access to the same Google Slides presentation. They must work together on ONLY the slides for their assigned character. And each team must create:
    1. An in-character Twitter feed (with three or more sample tweets, including any relevant hashtags)
    2. An in-character Instagram feed (with four different posts, including captions)
    3. An in-character Snapchat story (with three posts, set to public or private depending on the group’s preference)
    4. A TMZ-style tabloid story, complete with clickbait headline and an attention-grabbing bit of gossip that will draw audiences deeper into this page.
  3. Student teams have 30 minutes (or more/less at the teacher’s discretion) to work together with their teammates to develop the strongest possible social media portfolio for their assigned character. At the conclusion of the “creation” phase of the game, teams will have the chance to present their completed portfolios to the class, and classmates will “invest” (read: vote) on which overall portfolio was the strongest (sorry, no voting for your own team).


The beauty part of this assignment is that students don’t need to use ANY of the social media platforms mentioned, as the editable templates on the slideshow are ready for images and text to be added with no fancy apps required! My students really love this activity, as it helps them curate multiple social media strands for the same character, and develop a three-dimensional understanding of just who, exactly, a fictional (or historical) person might have been.

Snag the editable Google Slides template here!


Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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