Lesson Plan Guide: Power of words

By Matt Andrews on July 18, 2014

TITLE: Power of words

GRADE LEVELS: 7-12

CONTENT AREAS: Advisory, English, Homeroom and Health

 

GOALS:
• Students will consider harmful effects of cyber-bullying.
• Students will learn facts about cyber-bullying—about the depth of the problem and best practices for handling—from range of
research sources who’ve studied the issue.
• Students will reflect on personal experience with or exposure to cyber-bullying.

OBJECTIVES:
• Students will complete short quiz assessing how much they know and/or understand the problem of cyber-bullying.
• Students will participate in large-group discussion about the issue of cyber-bullying, using teacher-provided answers to quiz as
springboards to commentary & questions.
• Students will write in response to several questions regarding their own exposure to or experience with cyber-bullying.

STANDARDS ADDRESSED:
This lesson is part one of two aligning with the following American School Counselor Association Career and Personal/Social Development
Standards:
• C:C2.2 – Learn how to use conflict management skills with peers and adults
• PS:A1.6 – Distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior
• PS:A1.7 – Recognize personal boundaries, rights and privacy needs
• PS:A1.8 – Understand the need for self-control and how to practice it
• PS:A2.1 – Recognize that everyone has rights and responsibilities
• PS:C1.5 – Differentiate between situations requiring peer support and situations requiring adult professional help

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE:
No specialized prior knowledge is necessary to complete this lesson. Students will be asked to draw from their personal experiences.

MATERIALS:
• Class set of Activity One-Sheets
• Reproducible slide for quiz answers, discussion points, case study

LESSON OVERVIEW:
The lesson has four progressive stages:
• Short objective quiz (6-10 minutes)
• Large-group discussion/instruction: share answers to quiz and use as springboard for class input (12-15 minutes)
• Activity-culminating written response: Students respond individually in writing to questions capping previous activity (5-7 minutes)

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Objective Quiz (6-10 minutes, with introduction)
1. Explain that the day’s activity deals with a topic that is of great concern to students, parents, and educators all over. Explain
that we will begin the activity with a short, ungraded quiz that will see just how much they may or may not know about the
subject.
2. Distribute the Activity One-Sheet handout at this time and direct students to complete the short objective quiz.

STUDENT QUESTIONS (answer key/explanations below—see Reproducible B):
1. Which of the choices below would count as cyber-bullying?
    a. sending harassing texts
    b. threatening someone on Facebook
    c. creating mean websites
    d. posting embarrassing pictures of someone without asking them
    e. all of the above
2. TRUE or FALSE (circle one) - According to current harassment laws, schools are not responsible for any cyber-bullying incidents
that occur off their campuses.
3. TRUE or FALSE – Boys are less likely to be victims of cyber-bullying than girls.
4. TRUE or FALSE – Most victims of cyber-bullying tell an adult (parent, teacher, counselor, etc.) about their experience.
5. Which of the choices below are effective things to do when being bullied online?
    a. block the bully’s messages
    b. tell an adult
    c. sign off from/leave the chatroom or IM conversation
    d. ignore the bully
    e. all of the above
6. TRUE or FALSE - Though many victims of cyber-bullying report suffering from anger, frustration, and/or sadness, cyber-bullying
never results in actual physical harm.
7. Which of the below choices should you do if you are cyber-bullied?
    a. think that it is your fault
    b. keep it to yourself
    c. skip school to avoid the bullies and others who know
    d. try to take care of it yourself, then tell an adult if it doesn’t work out
    e. fight back
8. TRUE or FALSE – Families who install blocking and filtering software on their computers can stop cyber-bullies.
9. 81% of youth surveyed who admitted to cyber-bullying someone named this reason for their behavior.
    a. they wanted to torture the person they were bullying because they hated them
    b. they thought it was funny, so they kept doing it
    c. they hoped to become a famous bully someday
    d. they saw it on TV and wanted to try it for themselves
10. A significant amount of teens studied on the topic of cyber-bullying said that in their homes they either had no online behavior
rules or found their way around them. Of the percentages below, which number do you believe comes closest to the
percentage of students who answered the above about the Internet rules in their homes?
    a. 20
    b. 50
    c. 65
    d. 80

Large group instruction/discussion (12-15 minutes)
1. Bring all students’ attention to yourself as facilitator and have them keep track of their quiz answers as you go over them.

2. Give quiz answers using Reproducible B, below, either by projecting or by delivering verbally. After each answer is revealed,
allow students time to comment on the question and answer, sharing any personal experiences they might have around that
idea. Also, share the brief explanatory information included on Reproducible B.

3. After all quiz answers have been shared and students have had chances to respond, segue into the culminating individual
response by sharing the case study from Reproducible B4 & B5, either by projecting or reading aloud. Explain, if desired, that
it’s being shared to show a very real consequence of cyber-bullying when taken too far—that it’s not simply statistics and
generalizations being discussed, but rather the emotions and lives of teens and their families.

Activity-culminating written response (5-7 minutes)
Allow students a few moments to respond to the final questions on their activity One-Sheet.

Extension
Lesson can be extended into future Personal/Social Development-related ASCA standards, especially those dealing with peer conflict/bullying issues.

Reproducible A

 

Introduction Quiz
Take 5-10 minutes to complete the quiz below. Be prepared to comment on these questions and your answers in a large-group discussion
to follow.
1. Which of the choices below would count as cyber-bullying?
    a. sending harassing texts
    b. threatening someone on Facebook
    c. creating mean websites
    d. posting embarrassing pictures of someone without asking them
    e. all of the above
2. TRUE or FALSE (circle one) - According to current harassment laws, schools are not responsible for any cyber-bullying incidents that occur off their campuses.
3. TRUE or FALSE – Boys are less likely to be victims of cyber-bullying than girls.
4. TRUE or FALSE – Most victims of cyber-bullying tell an adult (parent, teacher, counselor, etc.) about their experience.
5. Which of the choices below are effective things to do to stop online bullies?
    a. block the bully’s messages
    b. tell an adult
    c. sign off from/leave the chatroom or IM conversation
    d. ignore the bully
    e. all of the above
6. TRUE or FALSE - Though many victims of cyber-bullying report suffering from anger, frustration, and/or sadness, cyber-bullying
never results in actual physical harm.
7. Which of the below choices should you do if you are cyber-bullied?
    a. think that it is your fault
    b. keep it to yourself
    c. skip school to avoid the bullies and others who know
    d. try to take care of it yourself, then tell an adult if it doesn’t work out
    e. fight back
8. TRUE or FALSE – Families who install blocking and filtering software on their computers can stop cyber-bullies.
9. 81% of youth surveyed who admitted to cyber-bullying someone named this reason for their behavior.
    a. they wanted to torture the person they were bullying because they hated them
    b. they thought it was funny, so they kept doing it
    c. they hoped to become a famous bully someday
    d. they saw it on TV and wanted to try it for themselves
10. A significant amount of teens studied on the topic of cyber-bullying said that, in their homes, they either had no online behavior rules
or found their way around the ones their parents had in place. Of the numbers below, which number do you believe comes closest to the
percentage of students who said they either had no rules or could get around them?
    a. 20
    b. 50
    c. 65
    d. 80

Personal Reflection Questions
1. Thinking about the quiz you took to begin this activity, did any of the information you learned surprise you about the problem of
cyber-bullying? Name one fact that was concerning/interesting/not a surprise at all and explain why you chose it.

 

2. Have you had any personal experience with cyber-bullying, either as a witness, a bully, or a victim? Briefly describe your personal exposure to this problem.

 

3. Would you say it’s worse to be physically bullied or bullied online? Choose one and explain your answer.

 

4. Based on this exercise, what’s one thing you think must happen to keep kids like Ryan Halligan (and many like him around the world) safe?

 

 

Reproducible B

Quiz Key, Discussion, Commentary
Quiz and answers adapted from work of Cyberbullying Research Center and National Crime Prevention Council

1. Which of the choices below would count as cyber-bullying?
         ANSWER: E., all of the above
         DISCUSS: Are there other examples you can think of?

2. TRUE or FALSE (circle one) - According to current harassment laws, schools are not responsible for any cyber-bullying incidents that occur off their campuses.
         ANSWER: FALSE
         COMMENT: Because off-campus incidents can cause disruptions and negatively affect the school environment, schools can
         be considered liable for incidences they know about.

3. TRUE or FALSE – Boys are less likely to be victims of cyber-bullying than girls
         ANSWER: TRUE
         COMMENT: Studies of the problem of cyber-bullying actually shows girls to be affected more often than boys

4. TRUE or FALSE – Most victims of cyber-bullying tell an adult (parent, teacher, counselor, etc.) about their experience.
         ANSWER: FALSE
         DISCUSS: Why don’t victims want to notify adults? Would you?

5. Which of the choices below are effective things to do to stop online bullies?
         ANSWER: E., all of the above
         COMMENT: When/if you find yourself in this situation, the important thing to do is to separate yourself from the offender
         and the conflict. All of these are effective ways to do exactly that.

6. TRUE or FALSE - Though many victims of cyber-bullying report suffering from anger, frustration, and/or sadness, cyberbullying never results in actual physical harm.
         ANSWER: FALSE
         DISCUSS: Are you aware of any examples—either personal or from the news, etc.—of cyber-bullying incidents that became
         “real-life” incidents? Share.

7. Which of the below choices should you do if you are cyber-bullied?
         ANSWER: D., try to take care of it yourself, then tell an adult if it doesn’t work out
         DISCUSS: Why might the others not work so well?

8. TRUE or FALSE – Families who install blocking and filtering software on their computers can stop cyber-bullies.
         ANSWER: FALSE
         COMMENT: A determined bully can find their way around rules. (Think of all the bullies in school who never get caught.)
         The best defense is for all families to actively monitor their teens’ Internet use.

9. 81% of youth surveyed who admitted to cyber-bullying someone named this reason for their behavior.
         ANSWER: B., they thought it was funny, so they kept doing it
         DISCUSS: According to your experience with cyber-bullying, if you have any, do you agree that this statistic is accurate?
         Is it usually what drives the bullies to do what they do?

10. A significant amount of teens studied on the topic of cyber-bullying said that, in their homes, they either had no online behavior rules or found their way around the ones their parents had in place. Of the numbers below, which number do you believe comes closest to the percentage of students who said they either had no rules or could get around them?
         ANSWER: E., 80
         COMMENT: In other words, 4 out of 5 teens are not being watched all that closely at home. If you want to be protected, you might               want to make sure your parents are at least a little involved with your online life.

 

REPRODUCIBLE B2


Beyond the Statistics: A true story of cyber-bullying
(Adapted from Wikipedia.org’s Ryan Halligan page)

Ryan Halligan was a 13-year-old from Essex Junction, Vermont. Early in his school career he had to overcome difficulties brought on by
developmental delays that affected his speech and physical coordination. According to his father, John P. Halligan, “He still struggled;
school was never easy to him, but he always showed up with a smile on his face, eager to do his best.”

In his 1999–2000 school year, Ryan suffered bullying at the hands of a group of students at his school because of his learning disorder.
The bullying had such a profound effect that Ryan’s family even sought counseling for him. In December 2002, the youngster told his
father that the bullying had started again and asked for a Taebo Kick Boxing set for Christmas in order to learn how to defend himself
against the bullies. Following a fight in February 2003 which was broken up by the assistant principal, the bully stopped bothering Ryan.
Towards the end of 7th grade, Ryan told his father that he and the bully had become friends. However, after Ryan told him something
personal, the bully used the information to spread a rumor that Ryan was gay.

According to his father and news reports, Ryan spent much of his time online during the summer of 2003, particularly on AIM and other
instant messaging services. During the summer, he was cyber-bullied by schoolmates who taunted him, thinking he was gay. He unintentionally archived these conversations on his hard drive when he installed “dead aim”, a freeware program. His dad also found in this
folder of archived conversations transcripts of online exchanges in which a girl whom Ryan had a crush on pretended to like him but later
told him at school that he was a “loser”. He found out she only pretended to like him in order to retrieve personal information about him.
Their private exchanges were copied and pasted into other IMs among his schoolmates to embarrass and humiliate him. After he went up
to the girl and she called him a loser, he said “It’s girls like you who make me want to kill myself”.

On October 7, 2003, when John Halligan, Ryan’s father, was away on business, and everyone else in the Halligan family was sleeping
early in the morning, Ryan went into his family’s bathroom and hanged himself. He was discovered by his sister, who was the first one up
that morning.


Ryan’s case inspires action
Although Halligan left no suicide note, his father, John P. Halligan, learned of the cyber-bullying when he accessed his son’s computer. He
began to lobby for legislation in Vermont to improve how schools address bullying and suicide prevention. He has also given speeches to
schools in various states about the story of his son and the devastating effects of cyber-bullying among teens.


Vermont subsequently enacted a Bullying Prevention Policy Law in May 2004 and later adopted a Suicide Prevention Law (Act 114) in
2005 closely following a draft submitted by Halligan’s father. The law provides measures to assist teachers and others to recognize and
respond to depression and suicide risks among teens. Halligan’s case has also been cited by legislators in other states proposing legislation to curb cyber-bullying.

Personal Reflection Questions
As the case of Ryan Halligan shows, cyber-bullying goes way beyond statistics. It has deeply hurtful, deeply personal consequences for
victims, and can sometimes lead to horrible results.
Keeping these personal consequences in mind, take the next five minutes or so to respond to the reflection questions on your Activity
One-Sheet.

 


About the Author

Matt Andrews

Matt Andrews

Copyright © Agility Inc. 2014
    
 

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