Lesson 13: The Power of Words
Common Sense Education | Cyberbullying
Students consider that while they are enjoying their favorite websites they may encounter messages from other kids that can make them feel angry, hurt, sad, or fearful. They explore ways to handle cyberbullying and how to respond in the face of upsetting language online.
Students discuss all the ways they use technology for communication and explore the similarities and differences between in-person and online communication. Students then brainstorm ways to respond to cyberbullying.
This lesson will provide students with the tools that they need to handle cyberbullying if they are ever in the situation of having someone negatively responds to their online postings.
Students may not ever have the misfortune of experiencing cyberbullying, but they should understand what it is so that they can spot it online. Students will learn how to identify cyberbullying and what steps they should take to make it stop. This may become helpful in later puzzles when students have the opportunity to share their work.
Warm Up (5 min)
Main Activity (35 min)
Wrap Up (15 min)
Assessment (10 min)
Students will be able to:
- Empathize with those who have received mean and hurtful messages.
- Judge what it means to cross the line from harmless to harmful communication online.
- Generate solutions for dealing with cyberbullying.
- Preview the Common Sense Education - Power of Words - Teacher Prep Guide and prepare to show it to your class.
- Print out the Words Can Hurt Handout from Common Sense Education - Power of Words - Teacher Prep Guide (page 7) for each group of four.
- Print out the Talk and Take Action Handout from Common Sense Education - Power of Words - Teacher Prep Guide (page 6) for each student.
- Print out the assessment on page 8-9 of Common Sense Education - Power of Words - Teacher Prep Guide.
- Obtain colored pencils and a string the length of the classroom.
For the Teacher
- Common Sense Education - Power of Words - Teacher Prep Guide
- The Power of Words - Lesson Video
- Common Sense Education - Website
- CSF Digital Citizenship - Resource List
For the Students
- Cyberbully - Using technology tools to deliberately upset someone else.
Warm Up (5 min)
Draw a series of expressive faces on the board. View Feeling Faces - Emotion Images for examples.
Invite the students to suggest emotions that match each face's expression. With every suggestion, write the emotion next to the feeling face. Answers will vary.
Tell students that not everyone will react to a particular situation in the same way, but just because a reaction is different from our own, doesn't mean we should discount others' feelings.
Explain to students they are going to watch a video about how words, whether typed or spoken, can impact how someone else feels.
Show students The Power of Words - Lesson Video.
- Who has heard of the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"?
- What did Guts mean in his text that sometimes words can hurt?
- Words are powerful. Sometimes it is hard to ignore what someone is saying when it's a mean name. Names can make you feel sad or hurt.
Remind students to keep Leg's question in the back of their mind during this lesson: How do you treat others online?
Main Activity (35 min)
What's the Problem?
Organize students into groups of four and have each group pick a person to record their ideas.
Distribute the Words Can Hurt Student Handout. Have the groups of students read the scenario about Rani and Aruna receiving mean messages through a children's game website.
Have each group answer the questions, then have them share their responses with the class. Look for responses that show empahty for Rani and Aruna and acknowledge that the messages sent to them were mean and hurtful. Ask the students to read the 'Use Common Sense!' section on the Words Can Hurt Student Handout.
Invite students to share their own stories.
- Have you seen mean messages sent to you or others online? Tell us about it, but do not use real names.
Divide students into pairs.
Invite one partner to write the phrase "You're weird" on a piece of paper, then hand it to their partner. Tell them that they just received this text.
- What are the reasons the person might have texted "You're weird"?
- They’re continuing an inside joke; the first person did something silly at an earlier time; a group of kids is teasing the kid; the person who sent the text really does think the person is weird but is afraid to say it to his or her face.
- How did the partner feel about being called weird?
- Possibly like the other person was kidding around, but maybe that the person was teasing or being hurtful.
Tell one person from each pair to say to the other person, "You're weird," with a smile on their face.
- Why might you feel differently if you could see the person?
- People give non-verbal cues through facial expressions and body language.
Crossing the Line
Place the piece of string across the length of the classroom. Ask students to stand on one side of the line. Then ask them to imagine that they are online and somebody has sent them a message, which you will read to them. Tell the students to stay where they are if they think the message is okay; to cross over the line if they think the message is not okay; or to stand on the line if they think the message is in between.
- You are my friend.
- You are an idiot.
- I'm having a party and you're not invited.
- I like your new haircut.
- You are ugly.
- Thanks for the advice. Next time, will you tell me in person rather than through text?
- Did you finish your homework?
- Why is it taking you so long to finish it?
- You are such a freak.
Review with the students that kids like to go online and use cell phones to email, chat, watch videos, send messages, play games, and do homework. But sometimes the language can get mean or scary. Messages that make people feel bad cross the line. Sometimes that meanness is unintentional, but when people use tools such as the internet and cell phones to deliberately upset someone else over and over, that's cyberbullying.
Talk and Take Action
Have students return to their seats.
Discuss how easy is it to feel angry or upset when somebody sends you a mean or scary message online.
- Cyberbullying: Using technology tools such as the internet and cell phones to deliberately upset someone else.
Explain that cyberbullies deliberately try to make you feel that way, just like real-life bullies.
- Cooling down can be a good first step when you receive a mean message online. Taking a deep breath, counting backwards from 10, or pausing to think about what you will do next can give you time to think of the BEST way to handle the situation.
- Finding help or telling a trusted adult or friend can be a good way to take action. You shouldn't deal with the cyberbullying situation alone. The person you tell should be someone who wants to hear what you have to say and will help you work on a solution. Adults can be especially good because they often have the power to influence the situation or they can give you advice about what to do.
- Ignoring the person who is cyberbullying you can be very effective. Those who bully often like attention.
- Whatever you do, remember to keep a copy of your communication with the individual who is cyberbullying you. If you delete the communication, there is no proof of how the bully treated you if you need to show a trusted adult.
Distribute the Talk and Take Action Student Handout to each student. Encourage them to depict a cyberbullying scenario and possible solution. They can use pencils and paper to make the comics.
Wrap Up (15 min)
Flash Chat: What did we learn today?
You can use these questions to assess your students' understanding of the lesson objectives. You may want to ask students to reflect in writing on these questions in their Think Spot Journal - Reflection Journal.
- Why is it a bad idea to send mean or scary messages online?
- Because they can make the person who gets the message upset, angry, or scared.
- Why might there be more misunderstandings between people when they send online messages as opposed to a face-to-face discussion?
- Online messages can be more confusing or scarier than face-to-face messages because there are no face-to-face cues to help you understand people's intentions.
- What can kids do when they get cyberbullying messages?
- Stay calm and take a deep breath
- Tell a friend or trusted adult who can help develop a plan to handle the situation
- Ignore the bully
- Keep a copy of the communication with the bully.
Having students write about what they learned, why it’s useful, and how they feel about it can help solidify any knowledge they obtained today and build a review sheet for them to look to in the future.
- What was today's lesson about?
- How do you feel about today's lesson?
- What is cyberbullying?
- Who are some people you can go to if you are ever bullied online or in person?
Assessment (10 min)
Print out the assessment from Common Sense Education - Power of Words - Teacher Prep Guide (page 8-9) and distribute it to the class. Give students enough time to complete the assessment, but make sure there is enough time to go over answers.
CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards
NI - Networks & the Internet
- 1B-NI-05 - Discuss real-world cybersecurity problems and how personal information can be protected.
This list represents opportunities in this lesson to support standards in other content areas.
Common Core English Language Arts Standards
L - Language
- 5.L.6 - Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal contrast, addition, and other logical relationships (e.g., however, although, nevertheless, similarly, moreover, in addition).
SL - Speaking & Listening
- 5.SL.1 - Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- 5.SL.1.a - Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
- 5.SL.4 - Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
- 5.SL.6 - Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
Common Core Math Standards
MP - Math Practices
- MP.1 - Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
- MP.6 - Attend to precision
- MP.7 - Look for and make use of structure
Next Generation Science Standards
ETS - Engineering in the Sciences
ETS1 - Engineering Design
- 3-5-ETS1-1 - Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.