Cyberbullying is a subject that I cover every year in Middle School. When asked what Cyberbullying is my students tend to talk about the sensational things they’ve read or heard – the cases where it leads to suicide or someone being charged with a crime. There always seems to be an attitude that if there aren’t threats of any kind that it’s not bullying or it’s just treated as a joke.
I felt that I needed to bring in examples that were real but not sensationalistic. I wanted my students to be engaged and to talk about the issues. Taking a cue from Stephen Davis‘ presentation on Technology and the Developing Needs of Adolescents, I decided that I need to let the students move around the room rather than having them just sit and watch a video or presentation of some kind. But, how could I accomplish this? Aha, I decided to adapt, Dan Callahan’s Things That Suck presentation!
Now as much as my Middle School students would love a lesson titled Things That Suck, I didn’t think it would be appropriate to call it that, so Cyberbullying – Yes or No? was born. I hung up big signs in the room: NO (on one side), YES (on the other side) and UNSURE (in the middle). The lesson started with a definition and video to help define Cyberbullying. Then, I had some examples which I presented one at a time to the students. After they heard the example, they moved to the appropriate area based on whether they felt the example was Cyberbullying or not. After they had moved, I had students defend their choice. This seemed to work well and made them think about why they chose what they did. Sometimes students moved as they heard explanations and, of course, there was the one student who always had to take and argue the minority position. After every second or third example, I showed a short Cyberbullying related video and then launched into another round of examples.
The entire set of examples that I had took a class and a half which I think is too long. Interest waned on the second day. I think this is best as one class and have reworked my presentation to take out some examples and one video. Some examples were better than others in sparking discussion and I feel I had too many obvious choices. So, I’ve reworked this a little too but may need to work on this more. Depending on the class and the discussions what I have now is probably still too long. Next year I intend to skip some examples or videos if needed to have this fit into one class. The students really liked the real world examples and wanted to know more about what had happened in these situations.
You can see and download my current version of the examples and links to the videos I used from Slideboom and Slideshare. If you use the online version, I’d recommend the Slideboom one because you can see the notes from the slides which include the source of the real world examples I used.
It remains to be seen if this lesson will be any more effective on influencing actual behavior than previous lessons. Only time will can tell on that one but there were less comments like “Big deal. They were probably only joking.” with this lesson so I am hopeful.