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The purpose of this lesson is to give students the opportunity to reflect on the effects of bullying, especially cyberbullying, on the targets, reflect on the role of bystanders and express their feelings on the issue of cyberbulling as well as express their thoughts on how to prevent cyberbullying. By taking the time to reflect and consider the negative consequences of cyberbullying it is hoped that students will foster a school culture that advocates respect for all individuals and tolerance of differences and does not to allow any form of cyberbullying to be viewed as acceptable.
Why does this matter?
The report by GLSEN (2006),
From Teasing To Torment: A Report on School Climate in Illinois,
found some disturbing statistics. First, barely half (52%) of Illinois adolescents reported that they felt very safe in their school while just over one third (37%) felt unsafe in school because of a personal characteristic. Personal characteristics such as physical appearance (40%) and sexual orientation (35%) were cited as the primary reason for peers being bullied or harassed. Derogatory remarks (sexist, racist, homophobic or anti-religious) were cited as prevalent in schools (especially in middle schools), with staff rarely intervening over biased language use and even participating in using biased language in front of students. Additionally, over one third (38%) of the students in Illinois felt that bullying, biased language and harassment were serious problems in their schools; clearly, the climate in Illinois schools must be changed.
Why bother to reflect on what’s been learned?
The best methods of preventing bullying and harassment are multifaceted, multileveled and systemic; they involve changing a school’s culture to one of respect for all individuals. One way to change a culture is to engage its members in identifying a problem and participating in the solution. Opening student’s eyes to the reality of the pain caused by cyberbullying and building empathy for the targets of bullying and harassment is the first step in participating in cultural change solution (Maudlin, 2002).Reflection assignments can help build empathy.
How does this lesson fit into the Philosophy of Middle School?
Peterson (2003) states that the Freirian approach to teaching values dialogue and reflection (p. 366) and “lets students be autonomous as possible and think about why they think and act the way they do” (p. 367). Peterson argues for the use of generative themes to “evoke passion and feelings among students and engage their interest” (p. 367). He further states that the “best generative themes are when a class is allowed to cover one theme in depth…the essence lies in the connections it builds between the topic at hand, students lives, and the broader world around them” (p. 372). Finally, Peterson urges students to “work reflectively on a problem to seek a solution” (p. 374). Thus, a reflective paper or poem after an Anti-Bullying week campaign and several lessons about bullying, cyberbullying, proper netiquette and bullying prevention enables students to build connections between the problem of bullying/cyberbullying and their lives. Reflection enables students to see the relevance of the lessons they’ve worked and internalize those lessons to help change the school climate from torment to tolerance.
Students will be able to state in their own words why bullying and cyberbullying are unacceptable
Students will be able to state in their own words what to do or say if they are targets of bullying/cyberbullying
Students will be able to state in their own words what they can do if someone else is being bullied/cyberbullied.
Students will be able to identify ways to prevent bullying/cyberbullying.
Students will understand the power of a culture of respect for others
Students will demonstrate an understanding of how targets of bullying and cyberbullying feel – goal is to engender empathy for others
Encourage students to apply what they’ve learned and integrate it into their daily lives
Language Arts Classes: (duration 2 class periods)
Day 1 - Language Arts Teacher during literacy block
Teacher will reiterate definitions of bullying and cyberbulling
Students will view several short video clips produced for cyberbullying prevention public service announcements, prevention campaigns, and personal accountability messages - purpose is to engage emotions of students so they understand how targets/victims of cyberbullying feel and encourage positive action.
Teacher will engage students in discussions of the videos and how they felt viewing them.
Teacher will engage students in discussions of targets of bullying, what to do if you are a target of bulling or cyberbulling, and what to do if you are aware of someone else being bullied or cyberbullied.
Students and teacher will discuss ways to prevent bullying and cyberbullying.
Students and teacher will discuss tolerance and respect and why they are important and how they make you feel as well as intolerance and disrespect and why they need to stop and how such behaviors make others feel.
Teacher will introduce reflection writing assignment and assessment rubric. Students may choose to write a reflection expository paper or create a reflection poem.
Paper has minimum length – 2 pages, double spaced, typed, 12pt font
Must express student’s personal feelings about prior roles in bullying (bully, target/victim, bystander) and feelings about bullying/cyberbullying, in terms of at least one aspect of prevention: helping victims/targets, stopping bullies, or creating a culture of respect for individuals and tolerance of differences.
Emphasis of paper/poem is on expressing feelings
Students will outline paper/poem and if time allows begin writing
Teacher may choose to share the poem in the No Name Calling Week website’s lessons for middle schools, lesson #1, reflections, handout.
Day 2 – Language Arts Teacher during literacy block
Class time allotted for students to work on reflection paper/poem
Only homework is to finish the reflection paper/poem
Reflection paper/poems due 2 days after initially assigned.
Resources for Lesson:
From Teasing To Torment: A Report on School Climate in Illinois.
New York: GLSEN.
GLSEN’s No Name Calling Week lesson resources for middle school students, lesson on reflection, includes objectives for a reflection lesson and a sample poem that might inspire a reflective poem
website for the Foundation for a Better Life. Purpose is to encourage taking responsibility for actions and raising performance expectations for all people regardless of religion, race, or circumstances. The site has stories of people demonstrating positive character traits and offers posters, bookmarks and tv spots/videos for free download to promote a value driven culture.
Video Clip Resources for Lesson:
General information about cyberbulling and its prevalence, developed with stopcyberbullying.org
You can’t take it back - something started out as funny, a joke between friends but one person posted it to spread it everywhere - by NetSmart.org
Delete Cyberbullying ad from
Think before you post, what you posted could be used in ways you never intended by
Antibullying video for bully.org
Cyber Bullying video by Childnet International
Words Hurt video on bullying prevention from the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management
school scenario, not being a bystander, character – pass it on
school cafeteria scenario, take a risk , reaching out – pass it on
we are all in this together
homecoming queen election – a true story
help on how to format text
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