“When my 10-year-old daughter was shunned by her friends a few years ago, we tried a surprisingly effective anti-bullying strategy.” E. Erasmus, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“The trouble started during a play date when three little girls battled over who would wear the one sparkly gown for dress-up. It ended up my daughter’s prize, infuriating one of the girls who told the rest not to play with her. My daughter defended herself, crying, as the other girls continued to taunt her.
Searching for answers, I came upon the work of Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist, educator and author of Bullies to Buddies: How to Turn Your Enemies Into Friends. His concept of the golden rule is to treat the person insulting you as a friend rather than an enemy, and not to get defensive or upset.
Following his online advice, I told my daughter: ‘If they say they don’t want to play with you, say very politely, ‘It’s a free country. It’s O.K. if you don’t want to play with me.’ Then find something else to do.’
It seemed like a lot to ask of a child who was already upset. But we role-played until she had the script down. The next time someone tried to shun her, she didn’t act offended, and the other children saw her as less of a target and moved on. Eventually, the friendships resumed with minimal emotional collateral damage.
Mr. Kalman’s strategydiffers from the approach favored by many schools in several ways: It avoids labeling a child as a bully (it’s an insult, like ‘wimp’ or ‘loser’), but also advocates going to adults for advice or help with role playing. His method encourages kids to solve problems on their own rather than asking an adult to put pressure on the school to take the side of the upset child over the one identified as the ‘bully.’
‘Nobody can guarantee their children a life without difficulties. If you protect your children from the social challenges of life, it weakens them,’ he said…
‘The way to reduce bullying is to not punish kids for exercising their freedom of speech,’ Mr. Kalman said. Teaching children that everyone is allowed to speak freely removes much of the power of the bullying and enables children to be their own advocates…
But many anti-bullying experts think Mr. Kalman’s scripts oversimplify things and call on a child who is likely to be upset to show outsize maturity and restraint.
Barbara Coloroso, author of ‘The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander,’ said: ‘t’s a short walk from hateful rhetoric, to hate crimes to crimes against humanity. Bullying is neither normal, natural or necessary. It is a learned behavior. The bullies must be stopped.’
Of course, Mr. Kalman’s strategies are likely to be most effective if they are used to shut down teasing as soon as it starts. Some bullying situations are so overwhelming that a child feels unable to resolve the conflict alone, and needs to call in adults.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Have students examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The trouble started when little girls battled over one sparkly gown for dress-up.
- My daughter’s prize, infuriated one of the girls.
- My daughter defended herself.
- The other girls continued to taunt her.
- I came upon the work of Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist.
- His concept of the golden rule is to treat the person insulting you as a friend.
- We role-played until she had the script down.
- The friendships resumed with minimal emotional collateral damage.
- Mr. Kalman’s strategy avoids labeling a child as a bully.
- Of course, if a child is physically attacked, he deems that a crime and endorses calling for adult intervention.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- The trouble started during a play date.
- He also teaches children how to handle threats.
- If a child are physically attacked call for adult intervention.
- Izzy’s concept of the golden rule are to treat the person insulting you as a friend.
- It’s O.K. if you don’t want to play with me.
- It seemed like a lot to ask of a child who was already upset.
- He also teaches children how to handle threats.
- If someone are committing a crime against you, go to the authorities.
- Nobody can guarantee their children a life without difficulties.
Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins
Mr. Kalman ___that when we ___kids for using certain ___ it ___them that words are very harmful. And when an ___punishes a child for saying something___, it ___hostilities and takes the ___for fixing the___ out of the child’s hands.
WORD LIST: teaches,explained,magnifies, punish, issue,solution, hurtful, magnifies,adult, words
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
- Have you or someone you know ever been bullied? When? How did you (or your friend) handle the situation?
- What is Mr. Kalman’s concept of the golden rule? Do you agree with this rule?
- In what ways does Mr. Kalman’s Strategy differ from other approaches?
- In what situation does Mr. Kalman advise a child to call for adult help?
- Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, said: …“Bullying is neither normal, natural or necessary. It is a learned behavior. The bullies must be stopped.” Do you believe that bullying is a learned behavior? If so, where would children learn this behavior?
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.