First, you should read the accompanying story that goes with this lesson plan.
So, you want to have a frank conversation about cyber-bullying with your Intermediate/Senior students? Thank you! By deciding to have this conversation with your students, you are positioning yourself as a learner. When you position yourself as a learner, amazing revelations can take place. You will be surprised about how a conversation can change things.Please read through this lesson and choose only the parts (some or all) that would work best for your community of learners. Whatever you choose, please visit this page again to reflect on your learning, suggest changes or post comments about the topic.
Split your class in groups of four students. Equip them with a marker and piece of chart paper. Have students fold the paper in four sections and number each one.
Start the conversation with the original Amanda Todd video.
Tip from a mentor: If you have low literacy in your class, read the cue cards out loud or have a student do it for you. (This will ensure that all students understand the writing and hear the message).
Set some strict ground rules about viewing the clip.
* No interruptions.
* No talking.
* No texting during it. (I have even taken away students’ phones during this time)
* No commenting out loud.
When the clip is over, tell students that Amanda Todd has committed suicide. Allow a moment for this to sink in.
#1 Add this prompt. In your group’s opinion, what was the most important part of Amanda’s video? Tell us why this part was important. Allow students a moment to synthesize and respond as a group on the chart paper.
Model the response: Say,
I thought the short glimpses of her face show her shame and sadness. Many of us only see part of the emotions bullied people feel because as a group we are afraid to tell anyone how we truly feel about the situation.
Allow students to discuss their responses as a small group while you circulate, dropping in to learn and take notes.
#2 Add a simple question: Have you ever witnessed bullying on the Internet? Note: Asking it this way will allow the bullied students to use the approach that their friend is experiencing this not them…it frees them up to have the conversation.
Continue to circulate and take notes. Remember to notice the interactions of each group making comments about how well groups are cooperating or staying on topic.
#3 Add-Does bullying exist in our community? How bad is it? What does it look like?
Tip from a Mentor-Always time your students giving them just enough time to discuss and record responses. Without being timed, students can get off track and you will lose the powerfulness of the conversations.
Briefly discuss as a class,
Show a media clip of the case. Discuss:
How can Amanda’s video make a difference?
Drop back in to group work,
#4 Add the final prompt- How does this translate to our community?? What can we do to prevent the outcome Amanda experienced and spread awareness about the issue before we lose one of our own?
Finally, give each group small piece of coloured paper to compose/propose a cumulative solution about how to make a difference with bullying. What can be done to change the situation? How can we prevent others from committing suicide over the shame of cyber bullying? If the group thinks the situation can not be altered, have them explain why.
NOTE: The purpose of this lesson is not to solve all issues but to start the conversation.
Each group should share their responses with the rest of the class and post their cumulative statements for comparison. Once all responses are posted, the class can decide what they have learned and how they might take action. What do they want the world to know about their new understanding? How can they get this message out in a way that might be important enough to go viral?
NOTE: This lesson can continue for days considering the conversation is productive and respectful. Search out other clips on the Internet that address the issue of bullying. Choose congressman telling stories of coming out, Ellen’s stand on bullying, Rick Mercer’s rant about preventing bullying, Public Service Announcements, Pink Shirt Campaigns etc. Different treatments of the issue can help students feel inspired to create their own versions.
We want to protect our students and our children. We want to change things with our words but maybe the words and actions of the students themselves are what can change the outcome for students in danger. A conversation in your classroom might be the turning point for each one in a different way. The Amanda Todd story can open the lines of communication and catapult understanding in to action.
Watch Amanda Todd’s original YouTube video.
Watch the CBC News report here
Visit Janet Lee’s blog to learn more simple ways to help all students to open up about bullying.
Janet Lee has been an English teacher/Department Chair, Nipissing University Reading Part 3 Instructor, Student Success Literacy Consultant, and Nelson Literacy 7-10 instructional writer and media specialist. Janet Lee recently presented literacy resources at The Great Moon Gathering in Fort Albany, Ontario. She enjoys maintaining her blog This Side of the Mirror-A Journey Through Reflection to communicate with teachers and address current issues in education.