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Bullying Op-Ed Piece

A photo of a student at their desk in a classroom, writing.
Overview
 
In this lesson, students will co-author an op-ed piece focused on ending name calling and bullying in their school. 

Objectives

  • Students will be able to identify the impacts of name-calling and bullying
  • Students will be able to explain their ideas about bullying prevention
  • Students will be able to develop a strategy for educating their peers about bullying 

Age/Experience Level
6th-12th Grade

Things to Prep & Tools Needed 
Paper, pencils, Take a Stand Lend a Hand Handout

Time 
60 min

Procedure
Let students know that they will be writing short essays in class about bullying prevention. Lead the students in a discussion about name-calling and bullying using the following questions:

• What are name-calling and bullying?
• Are these issues in our school?
• Do you think name-calling and bullying make our school a safe place?
• How can we end name-calling and bullying?

Divide the class into small groups, and ask them to discuss possible ways to end bullying with each other. What do they already know? What anti-bullying activities have they engaged in? Do they know the school’s anti-bullying policy? Give them about 10 minutes to discuss with each other.

Provide examples of Op-Ed columns from local or national newspapers. Have them try to identify such writing as different from a newspaper article. Ask:

• How are these different than typical newspaper articles?
• What seems to be the purpose of such a column?
• Who writes Op-Ed columns?
• Why do newspapers print them?

Then ask the students to spend the next 30 minutes working in pairs to write a short opinion piece that answers or compels readers to answer the following questions:
• What is bullying and name-calling?
• What are two examples of name-calling and bullying you have seen.
• What is one way to end name-calling and bullying in our school?

Once students have written their op-ed pieces, give them a chance to share with the class. Give each student a copy of the Take a Stand, Lend a Hand sheet, and briefly discuss with them the ways they can help end name-calling and bullying.

You can also display the columns in the school for other students to see.

Opportunities for Differentiation
Younger students or students who need more support can be given the structure of a five paragraph essay, with prompts for each paragraph. Brainstorming support and clear examples can also be useful. Students in need of a challenge can support other students as an editor or take the lead on compiling the Op-Eds for a zine or newspaper.

Follow-Up/Extensions
Students can share their Op-Ed pieces in the school newspaper, at the No Name-Calling Week Assembly, or in the morning announcements. They can send them to a local newspaper or submit them to GLSEN’s Creative Expression Exhibit at www.glsen.org/creativeexpressions.

Other Lessons to Explore
Learning Empowerment and Self-Identification,  Challenging Assumptions, Creating an Anti-Slur Policy, Blow the Whistle on Name-Calling, Instant Replay