If you are planning to submit nominations for the 2012 Edublogs Awards, I hope you will consider #UnfollowBullying as a candidate for the Best Twitter Hashtag category. #UnfollowBullying, a student-created, student driven initiative, is “in recognition that students are the ones who will lead the charge in their online communities to ensure that all students are treated with respect and kindness.” Past winners in the Best Twitter Hashtag category have (simply) created a stand alone hashtag. One of the many distinguishing features of #UnfollowBullying is that the hashtag comes with a dynamic online student toolkit to help students everywhere stand up, speak out and be the change.
Almost a year ago, NWP colleague Natalie Bernasconi and I began creating and co-curating the Digital ID wiki. Initially a collaborative project for gathering digital citizenship resources and best practices, the project has evolved into a platform and global microphone for student-created content.
This week, we will begin showcasing student content from #UnfollowBullying. Yes, this student-led campaign is from my school district, and in my role as a tech integration specialist, I am supporting the project. But the evolution of this project has been dynamically student-driven and is resulting in some amazing samples of students addressing and crafting the topic of cyberbullying in ways that challenge issues at their own school sites. From T-shirt signing events, to wall signing events, to newscasts, the students are broadcasting across the district and beyond a call to action.
Note: Be sure to listen to the entire newscast to learn about the many ways Toby Johnson Middle School students are challenging cyberbullying.
What Natalie and I have witnessed over and over through our respective teaching assignments (Natalie, middle school ELA/AVID teacher; Gail, K-12 tech integration specialist) is that, although teachers play a pivotal role in initiating the shared conversations on the ethical use of the Internet and social media, it is students who must lead the charge in confronting cyberbullying.
What makes the #UnfollowBullying campaign so likely to have an impact on how students regard both their rights and their responsibilities as (digital) citizens is that all sites across my district will be rolling out a digital citizenship curriculum (mainly from Common Sense Media), ensuring that, with teachers joining in, a week-long campaign can continue on throughout the school year, woven in multiple ways into advisory periods, computer lab classes, and, most exciting, into the core curriculum.
As National Writing Project Teacher Consultants, Natalie and I have a deep respect for the model of teachers teaching teachers. In our daily work with students, however, we stand back in awe at the power of students teaching students. It is truly the full circle of digital citizenship.
The most painful parts of watching Netsmartz‘s powerful video Your Photo Fate are the last three clips, where we watch the facial expressions change on the boy who is a target of cyberbullying, followed by the his mother’s fallen expression, and his father’s heart-sick look.
In my job as a district technology integration specialists, I am often invited to give parent workshops on digital citizenship, with cyberbullying being the topic parents most want to discuss. I’m grateful to be able to direct parents to excellent free online resources, such as Common Sense Media’s Standing Up, Not Standing By – Cyberbullying Kit for PTA leaders. The kit includes one of my favorite tip sheets for parents, providing both background on cyberbullying and boiling it down to five essential tips to prevent cyberbullying before it happens:
Teach your kids empathy. Nothing drives home a point faster than walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. If your kids truly understand what someone else is going through, they’re less likely to bully someone — or passively witness others being bullied.
Help kids understand the line between funny and cruel. Kids’ online communication is often purposely ambiguous or accidentally cruel — both of which can lead to misunderstandings. If drama starts brewing, ask your kid to call or speak face to face with their friend to clear it up.
Make sure they talk to someone (even if it’s not you). As kids enter the middle school years, their circle of friends and trusted adults widens. Kids need a responsible adult to confide in — their school counselor, their music teacher, even the parent of a friend.Talk to your kid about who they can go to if trouble is brewing.
Help your kid be an upstander — not a bystander. Kids are hesitant to get involved, in case the bully turns their sights on them. But there are ways to allow your kid to work behind the scenes to reach out to the victim, get an adult involved, and prevent more cruel behavior.
Show your kid how to stop it. Tell kids not to respond or retaliate. Not feeding the bully can stop the cycle. And — if anything does happen — save the evidence.”
This morning, thanks to an email from Natalie Bernasconi (Digital-ID co-curator), I read Esther Cepeda’s Defining ‘bullying’ Down article. Just as Common Sense Media has articulated the importance of teaching empathy, Cepeda identifies an equally key concept parents – and educators – should be promoting: resilience.
More and more scientific evidence is pointing to resiliency — the ability to overcome adversity by using learned personal strengths such as independence, initiative, creativity and humor — as a key factor in reducing risky behaviors and increasing academic achievement in adolescents.
But we don’t teach resiliency in schools. Instead, society consistently reinforces the notion that every slight, every discomfort, every put-down or rejection is worthy of an outpouring of sympathy for a wronged victim. We’re teaching that mantra in schools and in workplace harassment seminars, and it encourages people who feel uncomfortable to turn on a perceived oppressor.
Guess who this harms? Not those who crave attention, sympathy or the spotlight, but the quiet among us who haven’t yet found a way to stand up to the honest-to-goodness bullies in their lives”
In looking over the Digital ID project’s Digital Citizenship Glossary, we have defined empathy (Common Sense Media’s first tip), but not resilience. My goal this week is to add not only the definition (text and audio file), but also find a short video or two to make this abstract concept more tangible.
Natalie and I came together as co-creators and curators of the Digital ID project through as long-time affiliation with the National Writing Project and our 2011 participation in the Krause Center for Innovation’s MERIT program. As educators, we are both committed to teaching for social justice, and, therefore, frequently ask ourselves and colleagues, “How do you teach resilience?” If you visit the Curriculum Collaborations page on the Digital ID wiki, you will see that we believe one important step is to provide our students with many samples, both fiction and non-fiction, of heroism and survival. And from there, the next step is help students see how the ability of real-life or fictional characters to actively take steps to overcome often insurmountable challenges might help them deal with the very real challenges so many of them face before, during, and after school hours.
Any suggestions for short videos or other resources for teaching about resilience would be much appreciated!
Besides the really cool Yahoo book bag and equally cool Yahoo lunch bag, what else was great about the 5th Annual Digital Citizenship Summit? Everything, including:
The speakers, panel discussions, and breakout sessions affirmed much of the digital citizenship work I’ve been doing over the past few years through my district’s Internet Safety Task Force. But one speaker caused me to rethink our approach to teaching about cyberbullying. Larry Magid highly suggested, and backed it with the research, that we approach cyberbullying as a problem rather than an epidemic. Larry is co-director of ConnectSafely.org and founder of SafeKids.com. He is also the technology analyst for CBS News and writes for CNET News, Huffington Post and the San Jose Mercury News. Along with Anne Collier, he is co-author of A Parents’ Guide to Facebook and MySpace Unraveled.
Much like the “stranger danger” predator panic of 2004-2006, the media is now hyping big time incidents of cyberbullying. The reality is that far more kids are bullied offline than online. Larry pointed out the dangers of exaggeration, which can destroy credibility, can cause “boomeranger effect,” and can cause people to believe that behaviors are “normal.” His recommendation is to stop the “fear messaging” and to emphasize the positive.
People, especially youth, can benefit from positive images and role models. Creating a culture of respect actually can lead to respect. Respectful behavior truly is normal. Most kids do not bully.
Use ‘positive norming,’ such as the Craig, Perkins 2008 – Strength in Numbers report – 80% of Crystal Lake 6-8th grade students say students should not tease in a mean way, call others hurtful names, or spread unkind stories about other students.”
I’m hoping to go live with Larry’s “positive norming” concept at several of our middle schools by having students participate in Nancy Willard’s Cyberbullying Survey. But that’s a topic for another post;-)
I’ll end this post with a huge thank you to the Yahoo Safely team for hosting the Digital Citizenship Summit and to Diana Paradise for being the guiding light of the event – and with a closing question: What if districts approached the topic of cyberbullying as a problem, not and epidemic?
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. What’s happening at your sites this month – and throughout the year – to help students “be the change” and stand up against bullying and cyberbullying?
If your district is like mine, then I’m guessing that cyberbullying is a huge issue, starting at the elementary level, escalating exponentially in middle school, and continuing on into high school as a colossally destructive force.
As part of my job (tech integration specialist), I do Internet safety workshops for parents. During a cyberbullying session last week at an elementary site, a parent confronted the principal with an incident that had happened during the school day. The parent was taking care of a 3rd grader (not her own child), who stayed home due to illness. The child received a mean-spirited text message, with extremely inappropriate language, sent from a classmate – during recess time. (And, yes, we do have a “no cell phones during the school day district policy.”) At our middle schools, a huge chunk of a counselor’s day is spent dealing with cyberbullying issues – with sexting increasingly the seed for incidents that can so quickly spiral out of control. Facebook “burn pages” at our high schools pop up just as quickly as an administrator is able to have one removed.
OK, so from primary grades through high school, we have a problem. Fortunately, the resources for educators to bring cyberbullying into the school day and right into the core curriculum are plentiful, excellent, and growing. Here are some of my current favorites:
Common Sense Media - Free, age-appropriate, thematically grouped, and updated almost weekly, an outstanding resource for teachers – and parents too. Let’s take the Connected Cultures lesson Group Think (for grades 4-5) for an example. The essential question for this lesson is “How can you be an upstander when you witness cyberbullying?” I truly believe every classroom in the universe should be having conversations around this question.
Common Sense makes it easy to include parents in the conversations and activities. Like all of their lessons, Group Think includes PDF printouts for the lesson – along with parent resources, such as Cyberbullying Parent Tips, Digital Citizeship Parent Letter, and a Connected Culture Parent Video.
NetSmartz – I value and appreciate all the resources provided by NetSmartz (sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), especially the Teens Real-Life Stories collection of videos based on actual experiences. It’s the emotional impact of stories such as You Can’t Take It Back and Cyberbullying: A Broken Friendship that I’ve watched draw in middle schoolers – and their parents.
National Holocaust education organizations – In recognition that “It’s small things that set bigger things off” (Sam Edelman), the organizations below have created some wonderful anti-bullying classroom resources.
National research organizations:
“The basic format I am now recommending is that you survey students at the school location about their standards and why they adhere to these standards. Schools will find that the vast majority of students are making positive choices. Then you tell students what the majority of their peers are saying – and this should result in a greater number of them choosing to make positive choices.”
I really like Nancy’s suggestion of sharing the results on posters placed visibly around a school site. The survey questions are geared for middle and high school, but could be adapted for upper elementary grades tool.
Do you have cyberbullying resources you recommend? If so, please jump in and leave a comment. With input from readers, I hope to add to this list throughout the month. I’d like to include a section with links to lessons from the core curriculum into which teachers are weaving cyberbullying connections. Getting students to see that they need to be the change means continuing conversations, lessons, activities, and campaigns across the school year and beyond the school day.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Facing History and Ourselves, a site and organization dedicated to “helping classrooms and communities worldwide link the past to moral choices today,” so I was thrilled to find a seat in their Tuesday session: Ostracism and Bullying: An Online Case Study for Educators. If you’re not familiar with Facing History, here’s a quick window into their work:
John Englander opened session with the statement that ostracism and bullying are affecting kids’ opportunities to learn in a safe environment. His opening activity was to turn to someone and think/pair/share and “reflect on a time in your adolescence/youth when you saw, heard or experienced bullying.” It’s one of those 100% inclusive topics, so we quickly and easily delved into small group and then a whole group discussion.
An interesting point raised by John is that “elementary students think standing up to a bully is cool; by middle school, students no longer think it’s cool. He also shared research by Catherine Bradshaw (Johns Hopkins University) showing that kids believe that teachers who try to stop bullying only make it worse.
We then moved on to Facing History’s amazing new resource: Bullying: A Case Study in Ostracism. The study evolved as part of research conducted by Harvard and Facing History and Ourselves and with funding from the Carnegie Corporation. At the heart of the project is a collection interviews with five girls around a simple problem that began in 7th grade and quickly escalated into a complicated and serious ostracism issue. (Click here for an overview of the project.)
After a brief introduction and tour of the site, John invited us to do a jigsaw activity with groups picking one case study to listen to and to then share out some of the experts who’ve reflected on study – many provocative thoughts! My partner and I picked Sue’s case, starting with the audio file, which comes complete with a verbatim transcription. We moved on to listen to the case study review – the classic, snowballing effect, so typical of middle school bullying scenarios.
Facing History’s Ostracism & Bullying case study and accompanying resources is one of my best ISTE 2011 take-aways – a resource I’ll be sharing with district colleagues as we come together this summer in search of online resources and assistance with the horrific issues of cyberbullying that currently occupy well over 50% of our middle school counselors’ case loads – and so quickly spiral out of control, negatively and too often disastrously impacting the lives of our students.
Thank you, Facing History visionaries, for providing this beautifully constructed/scaffolded resource!
I’m impressed with the U.K. Childnet International resources, including their links and PDF brochures on Young People, Music and the Internet and Young People and Social Networking. Nice handouts for parents – teachers too- to provide common sense guidelines for safe, effective, ethical use of the Internet.
The resources on their digizen.org link are equally excellent. The intro sums up their mission:
Digital citizenship isn’t just about recognising and dealing with online hazards. It’s about building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage personal information, and about being internet savvy – using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way, and inspiring others to do the same.”
Digizen’s Cyberbullying resources also include a powerful video that I’m sure would spark classroom conversations, starting with the reality that kids in the U.K., just like in our school districts, are having to deal with 24/7 cyberbullying challenges.
This post is in response to Anne Mirtschin‘s request for cybersafety resources for students. I’m currently out of the classroom, but for the past two years I’ve been teaming with our district webmaster to provide Internet safety workshops for teachers and administrators, who during the course of the 2-hour session often swap their teacher hats for their parent hats. Fortunately, the resources for students, teachers, and parents are plentiful and growing.
Here’s the opening slide from our PowerPoint. I like to start with the humor of the New Yorker cartoon*, quickly transitioning into the implications and realities of “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” by showing the Trevor’s Story video.
I’ll be adding Anne’s post as an example of how an elementary teacher prepares students for safe travels across the information highway.
Here are my top 10 Internet safety resources:
7 – 10 Cyberbullying recourses – While we are certainly concerned about protecting students from online predators, the main focus of our program is to educate workshop participants about this heinous problem of cyberbullying, which unlike the old days when a bullied student could escape taunts once the school day ended, we recognize the seriousness and heart-wrenching consequences of 27/7 cyberbullying:
*Cartoon by Peter Steiner. The New Yorker, July 5, 1993 issue (Vol.69 (LXIX) no. 20) page 61
I really like the way the CTAP4 folks have organized resources for learning about and teaching all aspects of digital citizenship. They’ve included links to PowerPoints, workshop wikis, and even this wonderful poster. I think much of the credit for this valuable website goes to at&t’s Linda Uhrenholt.
I also appreciate Doug Johnson’s sharing his Cyberbullying and How to Avoid It student guide and poster – and Nancy Willard’s willingness to allow him to incorporate information from her website. Doug will send the Word version to educators wanting to adapt the guide to meet their school or district’s guidelines.
And for our elementary students, I like McGruff’s Shrink the Cyberbully activity.
OK, in appreciation of all who are contributing resources to promote digital citizenship, I have one to give. Many of the teachers and administrators attending my iSafety workshop ask for additional explanations of some the terminology that comes with Web 2.0. I’ve been working with our district webmaster, who co-teaches the iSafety workshop, on developing a Cyberspace Glossary. I can send the Word version to anyone who wants to tailor it for their own site.
Six summers ago, I traveled to LA to join a group of teachers (grades 5-12) for a week at Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Visual History Foundation (which in recent years has relocated to USC). The previous summer the invitation had been for high school teachers only. Their task was to watch taped interviews with Holocaust survivors and to then weave these gripping stories into their curriculum. As the participants examined hate group statistics, they came to the realization that with an average age span of 12-20 for both the perpetrators and bystanders of hate crimes, perhaps intolerance needed to be addressed prior to high school!
The high school group returned for a second summer, this time joined by me (at the time a 5th grade teacher), a 6th grade teacher, a 7th grade teacher, and an 8th grade teacher.Throughout the week, as we shook our heads, cried openly, and attempted to understand the events that led up to the exclusion and forced removal of targeted groups, we also tried to relate the “then and there” to “here and now.” We were committed to teaching for tolerance. But what did that look like, for instance, in a 5th grade classroom? Norma Motta Altman, a wonderful, wonderful English and ELL high school from LA USD, shared a strategy that was central to her teaching: creating the home court advantage. Each new school year, she would guide her students through a discussion of “the home court advantage”: what it meant and what it would look like in the classroom.
That August, I guided my new 5th graders through the same exercise. From then on, whenever students felt the need for put downs, I could refer them to our chart of guidelines and gently remind them about every student’s need and right for the home court advantage.
Six years later, I still share Norma’s home court advantage strategy with new teachers (including my daughter, who just finished her first week as a high school physical science teacher ). Six years later, the need to address bullying is greater than ever. The one conversation never addressed, however, with my Shoah colleagues was “cyberbullying.” Six years ago, as we sat in a state-of-the-art classroom in a back stage lot at Universal Studios, the latest technologies allowed us to download digitized versions of the original taped interviews. But we were working solely with Web 1.0. And in terms of bullying issues, we were concerned about inside the classroom, out in the schoolyard, on the bus, at the mall, etc. – “real-time” locations. But we were only a year away from Web 2.0 and social networking providers such as MySpace.
Last week I gave an iSafety workshop for my district. One of the teachers shared that over 50% of the issues counselors at her middle school are dealing with are related to cyberbullying. Over 50%! Six years later, part of the home court advantage discussion needs to include cyberbullying! And this discussion needs to start in elementary classrooms! In the primary grades, all reading textbook series include a story or two on bullying. Let the conversation begin there, with teachers teaming up to create age-appropriate lesson plans. For grades 4-6, still using the reading text, the lessons could be structured to help students make connections between playground bullying, for instance, and ethical use of the Internet. Elementary students should understand that the home court advantage extends into cyberspace. Taking pictures of a classmate with a hidden cell phone and then uploading them onto YouTube, for example, with a cruel storyline is a violation of the home court advantage and should not be tolerated.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/PtFtbaKIYyg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Key to the whole issue of eliminating cyberbully perpetrators and bystanders is to bring parents, teachers, and administrators on board! Fortunately, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel due to the growing number of excellent anti-cyberbullying resources, such as the above Heroes in the Hallway video, created by students (Kyle Barrett: University of Illinois and Bobby Barrett: Cary Grove High School) for students. (If you need a non-YouTube link in order to show this video at your school site, hop on over to thespiritdesk.com.) The ever-generous Wes Fryer has many resources on his Cyberbullying wiki. For the middle school group, whose cyberbulling curriculum could still be integrated into the adopted language arts textbook, I really like the videos posted to NetSmartzKids. For high schoolers, I would hope they might be involved in cyber mentoring programs such as iSafe.org.
In order to truly offer the home court advantage to our students, we need more heroes in the hallways – real time and virtual.
For the last few days, a very sad story about educator Kathy Sierra has been moving across the blogosphere. A heinous story about threats made on her life, scary enough to cause her to cancel a keynote speech at a tech conference in California. In support and response, Andy Carvin has requested that today, March 30, all bloggers address cyberbullying in their posts.
It is because of cyberbullying that we need to fight poorly thought through legislation such as DOPA. It is unlikely that many parents are aware of or prepared to help their children understand the depth, breadth, and danger of cyberbullying. In fact, the definition of “digital divide” has changed. It’s not about low income schools not having access to computers and technology anymore. The new “digital divide” is the gulf between how parents think their children are using computers and the reality of how they actually are. More than ever, we need iSafety and Cyberethics to be part of the school curriculum.
Fortunately, there is a growing bank of good resources for educators and parents. I really like the selection available at Netzsmarts, complete with accompanying classroom activities. I also like Bill Beasley’s Cyberbullying.org and Nancy Willard’s Cyberbully.org – along with Nancy’s very complete white paper: An Educator’s Guide of Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats.
Posts this week by Eric Hoefler, Andy Carvin, and Vicki Davis offer insightful thoughts and resources, including the newly created Stop Cyberbullying social network, annotated guidelines for stoppying cyberbullying, and cyberbullying badges. It’s a sad to think that one voice has been silenced, but also encouraging to see how quickly the Web 2.0 community is rallying to lend support and find solutions.
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