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Reading Matters

Doug Wilhelm is a full-time writer and an independent publisher in Weybridge, Vemont. His newest book is the novel STREET OF STORYTELLERS (Rootstock, 2019). His 15 previous novels for young adults include THE REVEALERS (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), which has been the focus of reading-and-discussion projects in well over 1,000 middle schools.

On cyberbullying: the best online resources for teachers

This week I started working with a small team of educators and issue specialists to develop a curriculum-resource package that will enable middle schools to address cyberbullying, and meet reading/literacy standards — plus technology-integration standards — by reading and discussing all or parts of True Shoes. Cyberbullying is such an urgent issue, and Shoes, the new sequel to my widely used YA novel The Revealers, opens up this tough issue in a suspenseful ensemble story that both young readers and school professionals are responding to very strongly.

I’ve learned so much in working with schools nationwide that have employed The Revealers to both address bullying and engage students in reading and responding to literature. Our new project grows out of that: we’ll offer, here on this site in the coming weeks, an integrated curriculum package that middle-school teachers can easily adopt or adapt to get kids talking about the issues that True Shoes raises. The story centers on cyberbullying — it also deals with multicultural issues, domestic violence, and the ways both cruel and creative that young people are using networked technology. We’ll make pieces of our package useful not just to language-arts teachers, but also to those who teach social studies and tech integration.

I’ve started this project by searching out what good, useful resources on cyberbullying are already out there on the Web. Here’s the best of what I’ve found so far:

The Cyberbullying Research Center. Clear graphs on this first-rate site summarize the findings of the authors’ extensive, school-based research over the past decade. The site also has a rich array of useful resources grouped for teens, educators and parents. Teachers, for example, can download fact sheets on cyberbullying and its legal issues, scenarios for talking with students and parents, quizzes, and “Top Ten Tips” for responding to cyberbullying and preventing it.
from Childnet International is a good site for teens, parents and teachers, with info and resources that promote digital citizenship (digi-zen, get it?). Its prime offering is “Let’s Fight It Together,” a six-minute film from the UK that portrays a middle-school cyberbullying scenario and is packaged with added pieces, such as brief interviews with the characters, to spur discussion. The video’s story gets contrived at the end, but in general it’s gripping and good.

Aimed specifically at teachers, Common Sense Media offers downloadable lesson plans for those working at the elementary, middle and high-school levels. The home page also links to an excellent set of further resources, grouped for administrators, kids and teens, and parents.

If you’d like to look at more sites on cyberbullying, this Qwiktage page — provided to me by a library group in California — gives a good hyperlinked list of what’s out there, along with a not-so-current summary of research findings. The best window into the current research that I’ve found is at the Cyberbullying Research Center, which looks overall to be the fullest, most useful site.

If you know another good resource that should be added to this review, would you let me know? I’d also be very grateful to get your ideas or suggestions on how we can best create a single, easily adopted and very useful, literature-based curriculum package on cyberbullying for middle schools.
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