Compiled by Katie Gould, Teacher Resource Producer for the PBS NewsHour
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. The resources below are designed to provide educators with a variety of quality materials that they can use in the classroom to authentically teach students about the topic of bullying.
Varies for each activity
Middle and High School Activities
1. Warm Up Activity | Crumpled Paper Lesson
This short and powerful activity has been adapted from a story that has been circulating around the web
- Either provide paper or have students take out a sheet of their own. As a class, ask for students to volunteer words that describe the blank sheet of paper. For example: clean, smooth, useful, etc.
- Now instruct students to crumple the paper, mess it up, stomp on it, everything except rip it.
- Tell students to unfold the paper, smooth it out and try to get the paper back to its original state. Encourage them to use whatever tools they can to make the paper the same way it was when they started this exercise. After letting the students try to “fix” their paper have them examine it and as a class share words that describe it. For example: dirty, wrinkled, practically destroyed, etc.
- Now ask students to apologize to the sheet of paper- admit all the things you did to it and tell it that you are sorry for what you did.
- Have students to reflect on what they did to the paper and the state that it is now in. Think of how even though they had apologized and did everything they could to return the paper to its original state that that there are still many scars that their behavior had left on the paper and those scars will never really go away completely.
- Now explain to the class that this is the same principle that happens to people when they are bullied. Even if there is a heartfelt apology the scars never completely go away.
- Give students time to reflect on the message and debrief as a class about their reaction to the activity.
2. Lesson Plan | The Heart Exercise for Groups
- Place students into group of at least four and give everyone a large sheet of newsprint and markers.
- Explain to students that they are going to do a lesson that you need them to take seriously because the topic of the lesson is bullying and everyone has been bullied before at some time in their life.
- If you want, ask students to close their eyes, put their heads down on their desk and listen for your instruction. Ask them to raise their hand if you have ever been bullied, or made fun of. You have a choice to either tell the students to keep their hands up and open their eyes or you can just report back to them that everyone’s hands were up. (Note: In six years I have never had a class where there was someone who didn’t raise their hand.)
- Pass out the handout “Bullying: Group Heart Exercise Worksheet” to each group and read aloud the first section to students as they follow along. Allow students time to complete each section of the Heart Exercise (5-10 minutes each). At the end of the activity have students debrief first with their group by answering the questions on page 2 of their worksheet. Then have the class debrief together and have each group volunteer their answers. You may choose to hand students’ work on the board or wall so students can see the similarity that each group had with each other.
Adapted from a Campus Activism Lesson
3. Lesson Plan | The Heart Exercise for Individuals
*Each student will need access to a computer and headphones for this activity.
- Pass out the “Bullying: Individual Heart Exercise Student Worksheet” to students and a blank sheet of paper. Read aloud the directions or let students read for themselves and instruct them to complete the assignment. Facilitate student learning if they run into questions or problems but make sure to respect their personal work as this is a sensitive subject for many students. To keep students on track, follow the time line below and remind them when to move to the next part of the activity.
- The Heart Section – about five minutes
- Hurts - 10 – 15 minutes
- Shields – five to ten minutes
- Assessing the Damage – five to ten minutes
- Class debrief – five to ten minutes
Adapted from a Campus Activism Lesson
4. Resources | Teaching Tolerance Resources
Teaching Tolerance is an invaluable resource for teaching about bullying. Start here with their basics about bullying. For a holistic look at bullying that addresses the problem of bullying as a behavior that can be changed, read this Teaching Tolerance article, “There Are No Bullies” and try out their Tool Kit designed to help all students create healthy relationships.
For an in-depth lesson and engaging documentary visit Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History which tells the story of Jamie Nabozny – a bullied student who fought back and won. Jamie (pictured at the right) is also recognized as a human rights defender by the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights.
5. Resources | American Federation of Teachers Resources
This page houses many resources on bullying for all ages including FAQs for teachers and quality classroom activities.
6. Video Resource | PBS Learning Media
Use this video resource on cyber related topics including online-bullying, freedom of speech and “trolling”. This six minute video clip is suggested for older audiences (grades 9-12) because of the hurtful nature surrounding “trolling.”
7. Video Resource | eMediaWorks
MyFriendRyan is a unique video resource that creates an opportunity for students to learn about their peers with Aspergers and Autism. Ryan, a student with Aspergers, explains the different ways in which he experiences the world around him with the hope that better understanding will lead to less bullying and more acceptance among other students for all kids on the Autism Spectrum.
Special thanks to Esme Ojeda for City Beat Magazine for the use of her photograph