Bullying in schools is rampant. As much as we would like to think our children are completely safe when we send them to school, we are sending them into a land mine of social fields that we have never thought to teach them about until recently. As a teacher I see bullying occur almost every day and I am constantly trying to find ways to stop the negative behavior and teach children why bullying behavior is harmful.
One of the big problems with bullying is its definition or how we perceive its definition. There are so many forms. The one definition everyone thinks of – the big mean bully who scares children – is one we have a lot of strategies to work with. It is the other kinds of bullying that are hard to teach both the bully and the child being bullied how to deal with. This type of bullying is emotional bullying. It’s very insidious. It can occur in the classroom right in front of the teacher. It occurs during a play group right in front of a mom. It occurs on the computer, during a messaging session. Emotional bullying is the worse kind because it gets inside the child’s head and that’s not as easy to heal as a bruise.
Taunting, teasing, and laughing inappropriately at a child are all bullying. Name calling, spreading rumors, forming groups and purposefully leaving one child out are all bullying. Even the negative connotations that eye contact and a nasty smirk with a child that is being taunted and teased gets across the room from the bully can be considered an act of bullying if it goes with previous behaviors of abuse. We need to give children some pictures or examples in their brain so that the next time they are on the playground, on the bus, in the hallway, or in the classroom, they can remember some of the appropriate ways to respond to a bullying situation.
Girls are great at emotional bullying. For years, maybe centuries, they’ve formed cliques. They have spread rumors, sent nasty glances, and slipped nasty notes into backpacks or purses. Boys can be just as good but in my experience they tend to bully only the ones considered lowest in the social scale. Girls don’t have a problem forming a social group against the beautiful blonde but boys don’t get together to bully the football quarter back.
The children I see bullied most often by boys are those least able to defend themselves. These children may be receiving special education services, or they may be socially naïve and immature. Boys do not want a challenge they can’t win fairly easily. They need the ego boost. How do we solve this problem?
The important thing to note with all of these acts of bullying is they begin early – in elementary school. Current surveys show that fourth grade can be one of the worst years for bullying in the elementary years. Don’t get me wrong. The other years are bad, but fourth grade stands out.
I have found books and videos help me to show my students ways to deal with bullying in a positive non threatening way. For young children the written word becomes proof and seeing it in a video confirms to them that a behavior is wrong. There are also many websites now that have books that show beautifully on a Smart Board. After reading the books and showing the videos it’s important to have a discussion with the children. Many of the books come with quizzes as do the videos. These can help you to assess their understanding.
Big Universe has several wonderful books that address bullying with gorgeous illustrations. Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully written by Audrey Penn, and published by Charlesbridge is one of theses books. For more selections go to Big Universe and type bullying in the search engine. A great site for videos on bullying and other character education topics is Discovery Education. If you are a teacher and your school subscribes to United Streaming, you’re in luck!
We can’t ignore bullying. Just saying we had to deal with it as children and we turned out okay, is not the way to approach the topic. Pick up a book and let your student see how to handle negative behaviors positively. Let’s not send any more bullies into our world.
Posted on August 16, 2009 by Big Universe in Big Universe News, Technology, Uncategorized.
Tags: Big Universe, character development, children and anxiety, children and stress, children and worry, children's books online, Education, Is a Worry Worrying You?, online learning, picture books, Tanglewood Press, worry
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Some topics are universal and worry is one of them. There is a beautiful picture book available online at Big Universe that covers the topic of worry beautifully. When I was a child I worried about everything! When I shared my difficulty with worries with my fourth grade students I got an overwhelming response from the children telling me that they had the same feelings and they sure were glad they weren’t alone. We spent quite a while discussing some of the worries they had.
The worries children have to deal with are numerous. For some it’s whether they’ll get the tennis shoes they want or the part in the play. Others worry about a grandparent who is sick or a brother or sister who is away at college. For some there’s the worry of losing a home to foreclosure, having the electricity turned off, or what kind of mood dad’s going to be in when they get home. Others worry that someone’s going to find out they don’t have a home, that when they leave school everyday, they go to the homeless shelter; That those clothes they wear everyday once belonged to someone else. That woman that comes to see them during the day at school, she’s a social worker, she might be taking her and her brother away from their parents.
Children worry about so many things. Is There A Worry Worrying You? written by Frieda Wolff and Harriet May Savitz, beautifully illustrated by Marie Le Torneau and published by Tanglewood Press, addresses the problems of a child’s worries in a very child friendly way. The book is written at a first grade reading level but the interest level is much wider. As a read aloud the book’s reach stretches all the way from preschool through the elementary school years and beyond. Even as an adult I enjoyed the bitter sweet memories it helped me recall from my childhood.
Posted on May 1, 2009 by Big Universe in Uncategorized.
Tags: 4.5a, 4.5b, 5.6a, Education, learning disability, online learning, online teaching, Reading, reading online, SOL, Special Needs, VGLA, Virginia SOL
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Books that are readable and have a reason to be read are usually hard to find for special education students. I feel like I’ve found a gold mine at Big Universe. The book Our Earth by Kenneth Walsh is written at the reading level of 2.6 but looks and can be read by children in the 4th and 5th grade who have reading difficulties.
Our Earth is a chapter book, with an index and glossary. The topic meets the criteria in many science curriculums and can be used easily as it is interesting to many 9, 10 and 11 year olds! What more can you ask for in a book? The fact that it’s online only makes it more enticing.
As a special education teacher in Fairfax County Virginia my first thought is always whether I’ll be able to gather any VGLA (Virginia Grade Level Assessment) material by reading a particular text. The VGLA is a portfolio assessment designed to collect material that a student has produced to show that they are at grade level on each and every Standard of Learning (SOL) strand. The assessment is for those students who can’t take the multiple choice test, successfully, at the end of the year, but are able to produce grade level work. Let me tell you I’m starting to realize what an oxymoron that statement is!
With a book like Our Earth and a media like the computer and http://www.biguniverse.com the VGLA becomes more feasible. I read the book and designed a couple of activities that I could use right away for the VGLA for a non-fiction book. I’m going to add more to finish up the standard as I have time.
I think the big idea here is that with the right book, with the right website like Big Universe, teachers can find what we need more easily than we thought. Our job then becomes making the most of it and making it work with what we need.
The following link will take you to a couple of pages of worksheets to use with Our Earth as a VGLA assessment or just a general assessment of your student’s comprehension. 45a45b56a1 (worksheets click here)
It was a typical Friday morning and I had my typical classroom of 8 students. But, none of these children are typical. One is “labeled” as noncategorical, because he fits into so may special education categories, two are learning disabled, but I would call them learning disabled with gifted tendencies, one is learning disabled with tendencies in the complete opposite direction and 3 are typically learning disabled with a true discrepancy between their ability to learn and their actual learning. The saving grace as a teacher of children with such a wide range of differences, is the computer!
I consider the computer the great equalizer. I can always find a way to make a computer lesson that is successful for all of my students. The wonderful thing is no one ever says…”I hate the computer, can I write a paragraph instead?” Giving my students a book to read on the computer, an educational game to play online or an activity to complete on the computer definitely aces a teacher standing at the board! And, lets face it…on a Friday…as a teacher…the computer aces me standing at the board anytime if its going to help my students learn.