This set of activities, meant to be completed within 2-3 class periods, focuses on practicing empathy, bullying identification and prevention, community development, and safe intervention strategies. Start the unit with a journal prompt, allowing students to share and discuss their responses if time permits. Then the survey is distributed, and again, students can share and discuss their responses if time allows.
Next, they will form groups of 3-4 students to write a script displaying the scenario given (teachers can assign which group receives each scenario, or let them choose). Decide whether inappropriate language is acceptable for this activity, and be clear about what is allowed. Make sure to emphasize the importance of actors using appropriate facial expressions, body language, and language tone, as audience members will be taking notes. As each group presents, audience members will watch attentively, waiting to fill in the section of notes once the group is completely finished. Make sure to allow time for them to write in between presentations. Once all groups have finished presenting, students can finish their response sheets and, if time allows, share their insights (either as a whole class, or with a partner or triad).
The creative writing piece is the homework assignment: They choose a mistreated character from one of the scenarios, put themselves in his/her shoes, and write a diary entry from the first-person perspective. Prewriting includes a web creating details of the character’s back story, to be turned in for points. Stress the importance of details: vivid imagery, sensory description, dialogue, emotions, etc. Students who wish to present their diary entry creatively (using music, Power Point, dance, visual aides, or other technology) can do so for extra credit. The unit concludes with the class brainstorming safe intervention strategies and a list of resources.
*Sensitive topics will arise with this lesson, so a safe environment is crucial. Encourage respectful discussion, attentive listening, and practicing empathy.
The purpose of this unit is to expand students’ perspectives and to practice empathy. While our ultimate hope is that a greater good can be achieved, that standing up to bullies will end their cruelty, we absolutely need to assess risk and remain safe at all times. Creators of this lesson and instructors who employ it are not liable in any form for any injury or consequences sustained from attempts at using empathy and intervention skills.