Working with an ongoing Process Drama program on bullying, opportunities for connections with everyday life abound. Yesterday, it was announced that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Earlier on, I had discussed the beginnings of this program (The Blackboard Jungle, April 11, 2011). Today was the penultimate class, after two weeks off.
Summary: The Process Drama on bullying is centered around the books “The Outsiders” and “The Bully.” 7th grade students, in five separate groups, roll played members of a small community in the 1950’s: Bullies, Bullied Kids, the parents of both sides, and members of the school. Word got around that one of the bullies went too far and threatened to kill one of the bullied students. A meeting at the school was called.
The resulting weeks had arguments, questions, heated discussions, accusations, and assumptions being tossed out. It also had: critical thinking, creative dramatics, problem solving, communications, connections, cooperative/collaborative moments, journal writing (literacy) in character, decoding of material and concepts, abstract and concrete thinking and more. Its been exciting overall.
In a previous class, astudent was heard voicing a very derogatory comment to a visitor to the classroom. This, in itself, was numbing in that the teacher of this group is responsible for the Anti-Bullying group in the school. This became part of the lesson: their understanding that these comments, innocuous to them as it may be, is as potent as physical violence is in bullying. It became that current event into a teaching point.
The death of Bin Laden became another teaching moment, where an event led a great part of the classroom discussion. Today’s session was about Bullying: Problem Solving without using violent methods. Using this very current event, the comment made above by the student previously, and President Obama’s speech of last night, we were able to connect the ongoing drama storyline with reality. The learning grew deeper and stronger, and the problem solving became more real for the students.
Next week is the last session. The students will be asked to reach a conclusion based on all the previous sessions and what we discussed today. A visit to a 2nd Grade classroom is part of the reflective process: the 2nd graders have written posted essays on why you should not be a bully, and will talk one-on-one with the 7th graders. Then: a discussion on the entire unit of study.
I can’t wait for next week.