Lady Gaga and Oprah Winfrey have joined forces with Harvard University to help victims of bullying. Gaga has created her Born This Way Foundation which empowers kids and provides an environment that is safe during and after school. Excerpts:
“When she was in high school, Lady Gaga says, she was thrown into a trash can. The culprits were boys down the block… I was called really horrible, profane names very loudly in front of huge crowds of people, and my schoolwork suffered at one point…I didn’t want to go to class. And I was a straight-A student…Lady Gaga came to Harvard University on Wednesday for the formal unveiling of her Born This Way Foundation, meant to empower kids and nurture a more congenial environment in and out of schools… A recent study from the University of Virginia suggests that when a school has a climate of bullying, it’s not just the targeted kids who suffer — the entire school lags academically. A British scholar found that children who simply witness bullying are more likely to skip school or abuse alcohol. American studies have found that children who are bullied are much more likely to contemplate suicide and to skip school…Oprah Winfrey showed up as well, along with Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services. Kathleen McCartney, dean of the Graduate School of Education here at Harvard, said that she and her colleagues invited Lady Gaga because they had been searching for ways to address bullying as a neglected area of education — and as a human rights issue. As many as one-fifth of children feel bullied, she said, adding: “If you don’t feel safe as a child, you can’t learn.”
Bullying is an issue that concerns us all. Read the article in its entirety and share your thoughts.
Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Language Skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening, and vocabulary practice.
Time: approximately 2 hours.
Materials: student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.
Objective: Students will discuss the positive aspects of celebrities helping to create a non-violent movement to stop bullying. Students will practice reading, speaking, writing and listening skills
I. Pre-Reading Tasks
Analyze headings and photos
Directions: Have students read the title of the post, the title of the article, and analyze the photo. Next, have them make a list of words, and phrases they might find in this article.
- Stimulating Background Knowledge
Directions: have students generate ideas that may be connected to the article.
Directions: Have students fill out the KWL Chart concerning the issue of bullying.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold (taken from the article) and use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance.
- The culprits were boys down the block…
- I was called really horrible, profane names very loudly…
- Searching for ways to ease the trauma of adolescence for other kids…
- American studies have found that children who are bullied are much more likely to contemplate suicide and to skip school.
- Any self-doubt Lady Gaga harbors should have been erased by the huge throngs that greeted her at Harvard
- they had been searching for ways to address bullying as a neglected area of education-
- Exceptionally articulate, she seemed for the first time at a loss for words.
- Her aim is a far broader movement to change the culture and create a more supportive and tolerant environment.
- “The Born This Way Foundation is not restitution or revenge for my experiences…
- Yes, that sounds grandiose and utopian, but I’m reluctant to bet against one of the world’s top pop stars…
- Reading Comprehension
Questions for Comprehension True / False
Directions: If the statement is true, students write (T) if the statement is false they write (F) and provide the correct answer from the article.
- When she was in high school, Lady Gaga was thrown into a trash can by a group of girls.
- She was called names.
- Lady Gaga was a poor student in school.
- The name of her foundation is Born to Be Wild Foundation.
- More focus needs to be placed on bullying because of the high suicide rates and because bullying is an impediment to education.
- Research suggests that although the victims of bullying suffer, the rest of the school does fine.
- Children who are bullied are much more likely to contemplate suicide and to skip school.
- Oprah Winfrey has not joined lady Gaga.
- The Born This Way Foundation is a way for Lady Gaga to get revenge for her experiences.
- Bullying is not only physical, but can also be mental and emotional.
III. Post Reading Tasks
- Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Do you think that if enough celebrities become involved in the movement to stop bullying, young people will listen? Explain why.
- What would you do if you saw someone being bullied? Explain your actions.
- Why do some young people bully others, and some young people don’t?
- At the end of the article it states “Bullying and teenage cruelty are human rights abuses that need to be higher on our agenda.” Explain what this means to you.
- Essay Writing
Directions: Have students choose a topic and write an essay.
- Write an essay in which you describe an incident where you were bullied.
- Write an essay in which you provide possible solutions to stop bullying in schools.
- Research either Lady Gaga or Oprah Winfrey and write an essay describing their lives.
- Write an essay in which you discuss the possible effects celebrities might have on people who bully.
IV. Listening Activity
Title of Video Clip: The The Gayle King Show: Lady Gaga On Being Bullied – Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)
Directions: Based on the title of the video, students are to make a list of words and phrases that they think they’ll hear during the video. As students listen, they are to check off the words and phrases predicted by their group.
While Listening Tasks
- True / /False statements
Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T if the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- In high school, Lady Gaga was bullied.
- She had many friends in school.
- Gaga attended a coed school.
- The school she attended required that students wear a uniform.
- During the interview there was someone backstage waiting for Gaga.
- Lady Gaga described this person in detail.
- Her new single is entitled Born This Way.
- Her new single received very little reaction from people.
- There are 3 versions of this video.
- The videos will be released on iTunes.
- A portion of the proceeds from the new video will go towards an anti-bullying charity.
- Questions for Discussion
Directions: In groups, have students make up questions they would like to ask Lady Gaga.
There is no answer key for this lesson.
Related Sites and Articles
It Gets Better Project “We started this movement with the goal of letting all LGBT youth know, that despite the tough times, it gets better…”
We Stop Hate “Building a movement of ‘Boppers’ – teens around the world dedicated to ending bullying through raising self-esteem. Join us!”
Harvard Gazette Lady Gaga, Winfrey target bullying “Pop icon Lady Gaga, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, and others visited Harvard yesterday to launch the Born This Way Foundation, a youth-empowerment initiative that will target bullying…”
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