Tweets on Cyberbullying

By Dana Grisham

Ms. Vanessa Cristobal is a high school English teacher at the California School for the Deaf. Ms. Cristobal is an innovative teacher who enjoys using technology to teach her profoundly Deaf and hard-of-hearing students using Web 2.0 Resources. Deaf students are avid users of technology, and indeed technologies such as closed captioning, Instant Messaging, and other assistive technologies are a boon to this student population.

In her honors class this year, Ms. Cristobal, did a unit on cyberbullying that taught her students some of the most important lessons about the uses—and possible misuses—of technology.

Our blog, Literacy Beat, focuses on vocabulary learning and Web 2.0 tools and the issue of cyberbullying is an important topic–and one that teachers must consider. There are significant vocabulary terms that must be learned by students and Ms. Cristobal is very aware of that.

She begins her unit with a PowerPoint on how to do Twitter (Tweeting). Then students begin to read resources on the topic and to discuss these in class. Finally, they “Tweet” about the problem using some of the new language they have learned and combining that with artistic composition language. Wolsey and Grisham (in press) have compared “tweeting” with Haiku. Both have space constraints, which make them brief, but when done well, they have quite an impact on the reader.

See this example of a Haiku (all tweets and haikus reproduced here with permission).

A yellow pencil

Left beneath a schoolhouse tree

Autumn leaves gather.

T.D. Wolsey (67 characters)

Compare with a “tweet.”

140 characters is the space limitation for a tweet and it is quite short, like Haiku, so thought must reflect the essence of communication.

D.L. Grisham (139 characters)

Ms. Cristobal used a number of resources on her unit on cyberbullying. Note below there are ten useful websites compiled on this topic. The culminating activity of Ms. Cristobal’s unit was the tweeting the students did in response to what they had learned. These were posted to Twitter, but kept private. All identifying information has been eliminated from these student examples.

Five Student Examples (edited a little for grammar):

It really hurts to be hated and makes me so angry, but I can’t respond that way. Instead, I must report. I would never do this to another! (138)

A sad boy cringes from his former friends in such pain that he might suicide. It is betrayal, but don’t despair. Tell someone and escape. (137)

You must not believe the lies and the hate, but trust this will pass. Report the abuse and you will then be free. Be strong. Don’t despair. (139)

Cyberbullying is a crime. Don’t commit it. If you are a victim, report it. It is not your fault. Sometimes so called friends make mistakes. (139)

In the end, you will survive, but it can make you angry and sad. Cyberbullying is a crime, so don’t let yourself believe the bad messages. (138)

Ms. Cristobal’s honor students did an excellent job with the form and the language and cyberbullying is a topic that all students, particularly middle and high school students need to review, much like safely crossing the street for younger students.

Ten Resources on Cyberbullying

Wikipedia definitions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-bullying  Includes definitions, original research, other publications on cyber-bullying.

Cyberbullying Resource Center: http://www.cyberbullying.us/aboutus.php Two researchers, Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja, authors of Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard (2009), sponsor a website dedicated to “providing up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents.”

National Crime Prevention Panel: http://www.ncpc.org/cyberbullying Provides a Q & A and other resources, including reporting options.

KidsHealth: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/cyberbullying.html  In the parents section, text-to-speech provides audio reading of information about cyberbullying in both English and Spanish.

BrainPop: http://www.brainpop.com/health/personalhealth/cyberbullying/  Provides a free kid-centered “cartoon” on cyberbullying. Other free programs include Internet safety, instructions for email and IMing, and cyberetiquette.

WiredKids, Inc. http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/  What it is, how to recognize cyberbullying, what action to take and how to join a campaign.

Cyberbullying Report: http://cyberbullyingreport.com/  Contains a process for reporting cyberbullies.

NetSmartz (NS) Teens: http://www.nsteens.org/Videos/Cyberbullying Video that explores cyberbullying through student interviews and cartoon.

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNumIY9D7uY  The experiences of a teen boy who was cyberbullied and grew desperate, but how the cyberbulling was stopped. (There are a number of other films on YouTube on this topic that I have not reviewed.)

Stop Bullying: http://www.stopbullying.gov/about_us/index.htmlStopBullying.gov provides information from various government agencies on how kids, teens, young adults, parents, educators and others in the community can prevent or stop bullying.

Images for Cyberbullying:

Google Images for cyberbullying: http://www.google.com/search?q=cyberbullying&hl=en&biw=1881&bih=949&prmd=ivnsb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=5cglTrv8EY6WsgP8yYnpCA&sqi=2&ved=0CEkQsAQ

May be used for reports or as teacher resources, although some are copyrighted.

References:

Wolsey, T.D. and Grisham, D.L. (in press). Teaching writing with technology. New York: Guilford.

Sample PowerPoint Slides for Tweeting in Ms. Cristobal’s class (with thanks!)

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