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Activity 1: In-Person and Online Community Mapping Exercise

(40 minutes)


In this activity, students will create a map of their face-to-face and online communities and explore the overlaps between them. Students will also consider the ways that they communicate with these communities and the extent to which digital tools and social media are a part of that. Later, this will help students investigate the kinds of social and civic issues that are important to their communities and how that impacts their own perspectives.


Students will need regular (8½ x 11) paper, a large (butcher) piece of paper, and some writing and/or drawing utensils. Given the complexity of the maps they might create, it is helpful if markers/pencils in several colors are available to them.


To create the map, take your students through the following steps:

1. Think about the communities you belong to - both in terms of your face-to-face connections (friends at school, relatives, neighbors) and online spaces (fan communities, interest groups, online friends, user networks). List all of these communities on a regular piece of paper.


2. Think through and plan out how you could visually represent these various communities. Identify colors, shapes, pictures that you associate with these communities and sketch out how you might be able to use these to draw/diagram your communities. Here are some questions to help you organize your thoughts:


a) Are some of your communities local to you or near where you live and go to school?

b) Do some of your face-to-face/local and online communities overlap? This means that you connect with some of the same people online as you do face-to-face (as in, some of your Facebook friends are also friends who you often see face-to-face).

c) Do you meet them face-to-face on a regular or limited basis? For example, you may not see some people in your online community on a regular basis.


3. Use your list and these design ideas to draw your map on a large piece of (butcher) paper. Get creative in how you depict your face-to-face and online communities. Think about what images, colors, characters, and symbols best visualize your communities and use those.

4. Once your map is finished, review what you have created and identify when and where your communities connect with each other.


5. In the final step, look at your map, use another piece of paper to write a short description of the map you have created. Write it as if you are explaining the map to someone. What do we see in the map? What do the various areas represent? Who is included in the map? How are they connected to each other? What else is important?


Once the maps and descriptions are complete, have your students work in pairs to share their maps, and discuss the following:


Who do you see as your communities?


  • Do your communities include: Your family? Friends? School? Other in school and out of school communities?


  • How much overlap do you see between online and in person communities?


  • Looking back at this, what is a community to you? How do you define it?


Finally, ask the students to compare their maps to identify similarities and differences with their partners. Are there certain communities that rely on social media to exist? Which ones are they? Are some social media more popular than others? Why may this be the case?


To conclude the pair-share, bring the whole class together and have each group share back to the class about the similarities and differences they observed between their respective community maps.


End the session by creating a list of the ways that the students communicate with their various communities to surface which forms of media are important and currently relevant to the students’ community lives.


Please note that there are two images included here of an example list and map for you or your students to reference.

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