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Friday, September 16, 2011

Linking Literature, Bullying and Critical Thinking

Bullying has been around for a long time.  I just finished reading Lord of the Flies (published in 1954 and my first library iPOD download) and was thinking about Piggy, the poor boy, who was overweight, wore glasses and had asthma- a stereotypical character, ripe for bullying.  Despite the fact that he was the best thinker of the boys, he was ignored and belittled, and (spoiler alert) eventually killed.  As I said, bullying has been around for a long time.   Why do we now need laws to protect kids?  For one thing, bullying can go viral now; it can follow you into the bus, the playground, halls, classroom and then right into your bedroom at home.  Thanks to our communication networks, for some there is no escape.  It is too easy to “share” gossip, pictures, and comments with friends, neighbors, countrymen (and women) and in fact, the world.  We as educators are now being told that we need to develop policies and training, increase supervising and enforcement, intervene and educate.
While most school districts are taking care of the nuts and bolts at the administrative level, teachers are looking for ways to teach this in a meaningful way.   Giving students a strategy to “SCAN” a problem (See the issues, Clarify them, Ask what is important, and Name next steps) such as bullying is a great way to help them deal with complex situations when they arise in their lives. The FREE lesson – School Violence:  Jake-Victim or Threat at allows kids to look at a bullying situation from four different perspectives.  What better way to develop empathy, than to have them step into someone else’s shoes and work together to find a solution to this dilemma? 
You can use the SCAN strategy with or without technology, using the four steps to guide discussion on solving problems from different character perspectives presented in literature.  The engaging SCAN online tool can increase student participation in the lesson as they are guided through the steps in a discussion platform that they love.  This is an authentic and relevant way to teach standards of proper online discussion techniques, empathy and a critical thinking strategy.  You can even enrich lessons with links and resources to deliver increased content - all free. 
Register for a free SCAN subscription which will give you access to a wide array of lessons covering bullying topics – such as teasing, cyber-bullying, Facebook and privacy, etc (as well as current events, social studies, health issues, etc.)  You can even post your own lessons, or have students write them, directly tied to your curriculum.  Imagine the power of students writing bullying perspectives from the points of view of the characters in novels like The Outsiders or Lord of the Flies, posting them in the tool and then using the SCAN strategy to develop solutions to the problems!

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