This is a guest post by Lesley Boatright. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts, click here to see her other posts, and click here to read her blog, Practice Makes Perfect.
As part of our curriculum in the school where I teach, we have monthly meetings to discuss bullying and bullying prevention. We start out the year by discussing our school rules and how children should handle the situation if they or someone else is being bullied, including ways to help if they see someone being bullied.
I try to integrate literature as much as possible into these monthly meetings. A good story, such as Chrysanthemum, really helps the children understand what bullying is and maybe even recognize if they, themselves, are engaging in bullying behavior. So I was very happy to find these two stories from Hameray Publishing that addressed the topic of bullying. I used these stories in two different sessions as an introduction to our monthly meeting.
The first story, Sophia and the Bully, talks about a new girl in school. It addresses the uncomfortableness of being a new child in a school. It also highlights how friends can intervene when they see bullying behaviors happening, which led to our class discussion about what children can do if they see another child being bullied. I had the children write and illustrate to the complete the sentence "If I saw someone being bullied, I would. . ." Their responses led to interesting discussions about why some approaches would be better than others. I did have to point out that beating up a bully was not the best, nor the safest, solution to the problem!
The next month, I read the story Are You a Bully? Now, of course, all the children immediately said NO! This book was particularly effective in showing behaviors that could be considered bullying behaviors. In our school, we are very careful with the tag "bully." There is a clear cut definition of bullying that includes a PATTERN of REPEATED behavior and an imbalance of power. So much of what goes on in the course of a day is not true bullying. But I make it a point to tell a child if they are engaging in bullying behavior because they truly don't see some of their actions in that way.
This story talked about how giggling at someone who doesn't read well, calling someone names, making fun of what someone wears, excluding children, and teasing all can be considered bullying. By the end of the story, most of my children were somewhat shocked to recognize some of their own behaviors in the book. As a follow up, I listed the situations from the book on the board, and asked pairs of children to work together to come up with an alternative, following the format, "Instead of laughing at someone who can't read well, I could . . ." We gathered those papers together and made a class book "Bullying Behavior Is Not Cool."
These are just a few of my ideas of ways to incorporate this bullying literature into my classroom lessons. I'm sure you will come up with many creative ideas as well!
For more information about the series shown in this post, Kaleidscope Collection, click the image on the left below to download a series information sheet with key features. To download the lesson packet, click the image to the right.