AI Algorithms: How Well Do They Know You?

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Subjects: Computational Thinking, Technology


This lesson plan is about how AI algorithms decide what content to show us online and how that can affect our lives. AI stands for artificial intelligence, which is a technology that can do tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing faces, understanding speech, or playing games. AI algorithms are rules or instructions that tell the AI how to do these tasks. One type of AI algorithm is called a recommendation algorithm, which decides what content to show or curate for someone, such as videos, news, or ads. Sometimes, this can be helpful, but other times, it can have negative consequences, such as creating filter bubbles, spreading bias, or limiting our choices. In this lesson, you will learn how recommendation algorithms work and what they are based on. You will also think critically about how they influence what you see online and what you value.

NB Curricular Connections

Technology 6-8

  • Strand: Information Technology Skills – Big Idea: Computational Practice

Technology 9

  • Strand: Information Technology Skills – Big Idea: Computational Practice

Computer Science 110

  • Strand: Computation Thinking – Big Idea: Decomposition; Pattern Recognition; Abstraction; Algorithms
  • Strand: Coding – Big Idea: Planning and Documentation; Software; Data

What You’ll Need


1. AskWhat usually happens after you finish watching a video on YouTube? Or right when you open TikTok? How are these apps so good at feeding you what you want to see? (Slide 4)
2. SaySocial media platforms (including YouTube) use recommendation algorithms, which are a type of artificial intelligence (AI), to curate content for us (Slide 5).

Define artificial intelligence and recommendation algorithm (Slides 6–7).

3. SayWe’re going to watch a video that explains how recommendation algorithms work, and how they can influence what we think and do (Slide 8).
4. Show the “Is the Internet Expanding or Narrowing Our Minds?” video (Slide 9) and have students complete the Recommendation Algorithms handout.

Refer to the Teacher Version of the handout to guide the discussion. You can also refer to Slides 10–15.

5. AskLet’s reflect on the tips from the video, and your own experiences online. How can you make social media algorithms “work” better for you? (Slide 16)

Have students pair-share. Then invite students to share out.

6. SayRecommendation algorithms are a type of AI that filters the content and media we consume. This gives them the power to shape our opinions, and even the people we connect with. That’s why it’s important to think critically about what you’re seeing (and what you’re not) when you go online (Slide 17).

Reflection Activity

Please see the attached PDF for several choices on how you and your learners can reflect upon today’s activity.


  1. Common Sense Media: