Sociology Social Groups Status Roles Inquiry Unit with Cults and Social Media

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Let's Cultivate Greatness
Grade Levels
10th - 12th, Higher Education
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Google Apps™
Unit: 111 PDF + Google pages / Lecture: 135 Slides + Notes
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Invite your students to see their own social groups and interactions through a sociologist's lens, and challenge them to build healthier relationships. This inquiry unit investigates concepts related to primary and secondary groups, statuses and roles, and the dangers of cults and social media.

Students will master key sociological concepts like

  • expressive and instrumental roles of primary and secondary groups
  • ascribed, achieved, master statuses
  • status inconsistency
  • role strain and role conflict
  • in-grouping and out-grouping
  • role of social media in altering relationships
  • social media usage and addiction
  • types of group leadership styles
  • group interaction
  • groupthink and the bystander effect
  • ways groups interaction
  • signs of unhealthy group interaction
  • Cults and signs a group is turning cult-like

Equip your students to develop stronger relationships in their own life with this inquiry- and standards-driven 4-5 week unit that asks, "How do my social circles influence me?"

All student materials come in printable PDF and editable Google files!


Greatness is seeing the power of influence people have on us and us on them

The strength of an inquiry, thematic unit like this is your ability to immediately make abstract concepts into intriguing and relevant lessons: each engaging activity builds towards the unit's driving question with its own focused question and is based on topics and issues that are real-world and personal to students.

This unit can be done well in 4-5 weeks and support standards from Texas, Florida, Illinois, and Indiana, and the American Sociological Association.

Included in this Social Groups & Social Interactions unit:

Overview Materials

  • Teacher Unit Overview with general notes, links, standards, and a pacing guide
  • Daily Lesson Plans with step-by-step details, planning, and lesson takeaways
  • Detailed Answer Keys for each activity
  • Student Unit Review and Skills handouts with review questions and "I Can..." checklists
  • Student Unit Notes sheet for building deep and nuanced mastery of concepts
  • Editable Parent Permission form to inform families about sensitive topics that are covered in this unit
  • Editable Case Study template to customize for any news source you want to incorporate

Student Activities

  • My Identity Wheel: brainstorm their own social roles, statuses, and group memberships, annotating throughout the unit as concepts are learned
  • Crash Course Guided Notes: provide an overview of concepts with this video lecture and embedded "pause and talk" real-world application tasks (perfect for a flipped classroom experience, or use Lecture Kit)
  • My Statuses & Roles: deep-dive into the nuances and implications of the mix of roles and statues any one person holds, reflecting on own and fictional characters
  • Pilot Episode Preview: view the first episode of a sit-com of your choice for the roles characters play, then students watch their own
  • Moreno's Socioograms: analyze visual depictions of the social connections within various grad-school classrooms
  • My Social Network Project: reflect on one's unique collection of primary and secondary social groups and their influences on one's own life
  • Social Group Case Study: investigate and discuss the influence of groupthink and peer pressure on an all-too-common problem of high school sports hazing
  • Are You Average?: reflect on your own social media usage and compare it with Pew Research survey data, then create a poll to survey your school
  • The Social Dilemma: watch and reflect on this powerful Netflix docu-drama film on how social media really works (at least according to some former insiders)
  • Social Media Discussion: closely examine, discuss, and reflect on various ways social media is altering our interactions, applying sociological concepts
  • What's Your Role?: learn about various healthy group leadership roles and practice them in a challenge to brainstorm solutions to a problem
  • Let's Be Functional: explore different unhealthy group behaviors and functions and brainstorm ways to transform them into healthier ones
  • Inside Jonestown: watch the PBS documentary, Jonestown, and reflect on one of the most infamous examples of a group becoming an unhealthy cult--the Peoples Temple

Lecture Kit (BONUS!)

  • 135-Slide Deck: introduce concepts with images and real-life examples; broken into four 30-45-minute lectures to deliver throughout unit
  • Guided Notes & Exit Tickets: support and assess learning with these no-prep tools
  • Everything is provided in PowerPoint & Google files and is fully editable


  • Open-Ended Essay: encapsulates understanding of concepts by forming a personalized and supported answer to the not-so-simple question, “How do my social circles influence me?"
  • Short Answer Assessment: succinctly assess students' mastery of concepts and application to the real world and their own lives
  • Sociologist's Journal: builds deep reflection on personal beliefs and experiences about concepts
  • Each comes in EDITABLE Google files for your customization

By the end of this unit, your students will be able to:

  • Articulate their personal and nuanced understanding of social groups
  • Describe key components of social groups, including the functions they play in society, and concepts like primary and secondary groups, status, role, groupthink, and cult
  • Analyze and evaluate a variety of news media articles, editorials, and statistical data to examine current issues with a sociological lens
  • Investigate, question, and discuss current social issues
  • Collaborate to solve questions
  • Apply theoretical concepts to real-life situations
  • Conduct their own sociological experiment
  • Reflect on sociological concepts in their own life

Outside Materials Note: this unit includes two full-length films (The Social Dilemma available on Netflix and Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple available on YouTube), sitcom episodes of your choice, and various news articles. Scissors, glue, and basic classroom supplies are needed for a few other activities.

Explore the rest of this engaging curriculum

Or, get the full Sociology course bundle & save!


Your FAQs Answered

I've never taught Sociology before. Will this help ME teach this stuff? Yes! This was built for you with a lecture kit that has slide-by-slide support, step-by-step lesson plans, notes on handling sensitive topics, and detailed answer keys.

Does this go with a certain textbook? Nope :) It was built to support you even if you don't have a textbook at all. The included lecture kit, Crash Course video guided notes, and links to open-source textbooks give you options for delivering content.

I have to be careful what topics I teach. What flexibility does this have? Tons! Everything is editable, detailed notes accompany all sensitive topics that come up, a parent permission form is included, and enough activities are included to overlap and reinforce concepts so any single one can easily be skipped

I only have a couple of weeks to teach this. What do I do? Each activity overlaps and reinforces other ones, meaning if you're short on time, you can simply pick and choose from the few options that cover each main topic.

What movies are shown in this unit? Film names are listed above, and links to access the free or inexpensively online are included along with an editable parent permission slip form.

Can I edit things to meet my needs? Yes! All student materials come in editable Google files. The PDF file is uneditable for easy print-and-go teaching.

How is an inquiry unit different from a regular one? You have a single wonder-inducing question to focus your whole unit and reflect on with each activity. Multiple topics are included that make sense to teach together rather than teaching about them all as isolated units. This schema-building is what makes learning stick.


This listing is for one license for regular, non-commercial classroom use by a single teacher only. Commercial use like online teaching (ex. Outschool) or sharing with other teachers (ex. shared drive, in a Facebook group, in a professional development training) is strictly prohibited.

By purchasing a license to this resource, you have access to all future updates at no cost, available under “My Purchases." Multiple and transferable licenses are available for purchase. PDF files are uneditable, other files have editing abilities, unless otherwise stated. All files are protected under federal copyright laws.

To request a complete terms of use prior to purchase or if you have any questions about this resource, please leave a question below under Product Q&A.

Total Pages
Unit: 111 PDF + Google pages / Lecture: 135 Slides + Notes
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
1 month
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
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.
Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


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