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Blow the Whistle on Name-Calling Grades 6-12

This lesson helps students develop a strategy for group self-monitoring of name calling in the Physical Education class and may be transferred to recess.

Students will describe the effects of name-calling.
Students will be able to use the names of classmates.
Students will identify Safe Sports Space Rules.
Students will commit themselves to stopping name-calling in physical education class.

Grades 6-12.

A bag of tennis balls or nerf balls.

1 Class Session.

1. Divide the class into groups of 8 students and ask each group of eight to stand in a circle about an arm’s length apart. Give each circle one ball. Tell them to toss the ball around the circle and say their names as they catch the ball. Ask everyone to remember all the names of the people in their circle.
2. Ask each circle to designate a team captain who will begin the game for their circle. Describe the rules of the game: Tell students that they can toss the ball to anyone in their circle, but they must say the name of the person they are tossing the ball to. Tell them no one can touch the ball a second time until everyone has caught the ball once. Tell them to remember who they toss the ball to and who they received the ball from. Tell them to complete this same pattern of tossing the ball around the circle three times so that everyone can remember the pattern and learn names.
3. Next, on a signal from you, have each team captain begin the tossing pattern in their circle. The objective is for each circle to make three complete circuits of tosses and names in the fastest time. If the ball is dropped, it must be retrieved and the circuit continues from that spot. Ready? Set? Go to determine the winner.
4. Now place a bag of extra balls in the center of the room. After the team captain from each circle starts the pattern, she or he can go get another ball to put into play in their circle, maintaining the same pattern of tossing and receiving with two balls. Team captains can add 2 or 3 or more balls as long as the students in the circle keeps the pattern going without dropping the balls and keep calling out the correct names of classmates.
5. Stop the game before total chaos ensues and ask how many balls each circle was able to keep going before the pattern broke down.

1. Invite everyone to come and sit in a circle.
2. Talk to the students about the importance of knowing the names of people in the class and using these names as one way to make the class fun, inclusive and respectful for everyone.
3. Ask students to think about a time when someone didn’t know their name, forgot their name or called them a demeaning name instead of the name they prefer. Ask them how that felt? Ask students if there’s a name they’ve been wanting to be called, but haven’t had the chance to tell people yet. This is their chance to choose a name they want to be called. Emphasize the importance of “No Name-calling” as a way to make the class fun and respectful for everyone.
4. Give some examples of name-calling that are not acceptable (these include names that demean others based on race, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance, ability, religion, culture).
5. Invite students to help each other remember not to use names meant to put down someone else or to make someone else feel disrespected or not included in class activities.
6. Ask the students how this can help keep their gym, locker room, bathrooms and classrooms safer.

Assigned/Legal Name: an name that is assigned to someone at birth and is used on legal documents, such as their birth certificate.
Nickname: a name, usually a shortened or different version of person’s legal name, that a person prefers to use. Or a consensual familiar or humorous name given to a person that they answer to.
Chosen Name: a name that someone chooses to use in full replacement of their legal name.

For students who have learned the concept of pronouns, these can be added into part 2. For example, students will say “Kai, she/her” or “Aden, they/them” before passing the ball. For older students, this discussion can be expanded to include slurs and other derogatory comments than name-calling, and can be related with more examples of penalty consequences in sports.

Students can reference this activity throughout the year and replay it to reinforce that names sometimes change, and people get to decide what they want to be called, and what pronouns they use.

GLSEN’s Changing the Game Resources for PE teachers and athletic directors.