Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Cyber Bullying: Where to start?



I have discovered as a beginning teacher that Cyber Bullying is not just something we have to deal with once then we can forget about it till next year. I have noticed that most of the bullying that goes on in schools seems to happen away from the teachers sight. As a developing digital class I feel it it time to tackle this issue as my students are very ICT literate.

I started off this year teaching my students about Internet Safety. Using the Netsafe Hector's World programme, we watched the online animated episodes and followed the lesson plans and related activities. We also use the Hector Safety button on our PC laptops (unfortunately they haven't figured out how to create a safety button for Apple Macs yet). It is a small animated character from the series that sits on the screen, if a child comes across something 'bad' or inappropriate they click the button and a fun screen-saver pops up with advise to get an adult.

Last term I found another free resource in the form of two DVD's supplied to schools by Netsafe and produced by Childnet. Both are cyber bullying stories told from the perspective of students, along with guiding questions and further supporting resources.

'At A Distance' is aimed at primary students up to about Year 6, while 'Let's Fight It Together' is aimed at intermediate to secondary students. Both stories show technology being used to bully and resolutions that help fix the problem. The DVD's are well supported with teacher resources. The DVD's have guiding questions and further activities, and lesson plans are available online.

As I have a Year 6 class, I will be starting the new term with 'At A Distance' which we will watch and discuss the questions.
As well as being able to order your free copy, there is also downloadable (is this a real word?) advice for teachers, principals and students here.




Where to next?
The next step which ties in well with our literacy narrative focus is a website called 'Speak Up!" This is a fantastic site that allows your students to create comics that tell stories of bully situations and how they could be resolved. Although you will need to model, scaffold your students to use this part effectively, it is very easy to use, as the settings and characters are chosen with a click. Here is where it get's even better, a big thanks to Learning Media. You can download the entire programme as a zip file and install it on your non internet classroom computers!

Just to make it all a bit easier, I found this great brainstorm or mindmap from Online Professional Development which will help you guide the same exercise with your students.

So what do you do to teach your students about Cyber Bullying? Do you have any resources you can add? Please share them in the comments below.