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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
What Will They Do?
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into three sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


The following site should be bookmarked:

CLOSE TO HOME - Overboard
Overboard, a 13-part soap opera/comic book for teens, is part of wNetStation's Web companion piece to CLOSE TO HOME. A new episode of the soap will launch on each of 13 Fridays, beginning March 27, 1998. You can be notified by subscribing to the Overboard mailing list (

Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access per student or group of students to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

-- Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
-- Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
-- Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
-- IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium computer with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.


Time Allotment: 3 class periods. (Note: This lesson can be done during an advisory period or in conjunction with a health unit on drug and alcohol abuse.)

This lesson focuses on the first issue of Overboard only. It could be adapted and applied to other episodes in the 13 part series. Please look at PBS in the Classroom for more lesson plans and resources for Overboard and CLOSE TO HOME.

  • Go to the Overboard feature of wNetStation's CLOSE TO HOME Web piece with your class. Have students look at the Overboard Web piece, preferably working in small groups. Direct them to look at the detailed description of each of the five characters and read through Issue 1 of the story, entitled "O.D." Have them consider the following questions:
    1. Is the scenario realistic?
    2. Do you identify with any of the characters?
    3. Do any of the characters remind you of anyone you know?
    4. Is there pressure on teens to take drugs, drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes?
    5. What types of pressures lead teens to want to take drugs, drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes?
    Give students ample time to get to know the characters and to read "O.D." As a class, have a brief discussion, answering questions 1, 4, and 5 above. Make sure that they're conversant with the details of the story and that they grasp that someone has died.

  • Working as a class or in small groups, have students speculate about who has died, and ask them to explain why they think it was that character. When they have decided who has died, have them brainstorm about what will happen next for the other Overboard characters. How would they handle the death of one of their friends? Some of the issues they should consider include:

    • What will the characters' next interactions be?
    • Will any of the characters feel responsible? Why?
    • Will any of the characters feel guilty or angry? Why?
    • Will any of the characters feel unaffected? Why?
    • Will it have any impact on the characters' behavior with respect to drug and alcohol use?

    Distribute the Role-Play Questions found in Organizers for Students. Encourage students to keep their speculation realistic, using what they know of the characters to make their suggestions. Each group should come up with suggested reactions for each of the characters.

  • Tell the class that they are going to use role-play in an online discussion forum ( to talk about the situation the Overboard characters are in.

    To do the role-play, each student will have to pick one of the characters. They will then enter the discussion forum and post a message about that character's reaction to his or her friend's death. Explain that the object is for them to think and react like their character, and to write as if they are that character. If necessary, they may refer back to the Web piece. You may want to set a time limit for posting to the forum.

    In order to participate in the discussion, every student will need access to a computer. If you have fewer computers than students, have those who are not online work on their messages on paper and then post them online as computers become available.

    Students should not identify themselves by name in the discussion area. They should post their message in the topic section named for the character they have chosen, and then identify themselves with the name of the school and an anonymous handle -- e.g. Our School/coco, Our School/biff.

  • Have students take turns posting on the discussion forum. Encourage them to read and, if appropriate, respond to previous messages. When all the students have had a chance to post their messages in the forum, print out the thread. Have the class evaluate the messages from each character. How are they similar? How do they differ? Are they realistic? Why? Why not?

  • Optional.
    Have students start a journal for one or more of the characters. Let them know that Overboard will continue for 13 episodes, and encourage them to look at the weekly updates. As they read each episode, students can predict what will happen to the character or characters, and reflect on how and why the situation is developing as it is. Encourage them to look for moments when the characters make critical decisions, to think and write about how those moments impact subsequent events, and to make connections to their own lives and experiences.


    Working in Groups
    If you have access to only one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Before the class period, print out the material from the feature. Divide the class into small groups and have groups take turns viewing the feature online. While one group is viewing the feature, have the other groups work with the paper copies. Lead the group working at the computer through the feature, or allow students in the group to take turns.

    Working as a Class
    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can view the feature together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen. Go to the Overboard feature and look at the characters and read through the story. Have the class respond to the story and discuss the characters as you go along.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing a Web-based project like this one. When viewing the feature, it may be helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students