Lesson #1: "What is Bullying?"

Unit: Bullying

Unit Essential Question: What is bullying, and how can we deal with it as a classroom community in a positive, healthy way?

Grade Level: 6th – 8th

Lesson: “What is Bullying?”

Lesson Essential Questions: What is bullying? What are the different kinds of bullying that we may see or experience in or out of school?

MMSD Standards:
  • Key Concept: Analysis of Issue
  • Participation Skill: Show respect for the views of others

NCSS Standards: 
  • Individual Development and Identity
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions


  • Students will be able to identify a given situation or experience as bullying.
  • Students will gain an awareness of what constitutes as bullying, and what does not.
  • Students will develop an understanding of the various roles that people may play in a situation that involves bullying.

Materials Needed:
  • Bullying Scenarios with Role Assignments (attached in lesson below)
  • Paper or notebooks

  • Begin by asking an opening question to the class: What is bullying? Allow students to share some of their initial thoughts, and record some of their responses on the front chalkboard/whiteboard.
  • After this discussion, place students in four different groups. Give each group a Bullying Scenario card (see attached) that describes a situation, with various roles for each student to play. These cards summarize a scenario, but students will need to fill in details and come up with specifics to perform.
  • Give students some time in their groups to plan out their “mini-performance” that they will show the class. Students should discuss the situation on the card, and rehearse their roles.
  • After students have had time in their groups, bring the class back together as a whole group. Each group will then perform their scenario for the class.
  • After each mini-performance, have a brief class discussion. Here are some key questions to address:
    • Does this situation reflect bullying? Why or why not? 
    • What role did each student play – Who was the bully? Who was the victim? Were there bystanders? Are they guilty, as well, or did they do nothing wrong? 
    • How could this situation have been handled effectively – what would you have done if you saw this occur?
  • After all the performances have been carried out, discuss the whole experience as a class. Ask questions such as: 
    • Which of these situations struck you the most? 
    • Have you seen any of these occur at this school? 
    • Do you consider any of these more serious/worse than others? 
    • Can we come up with a general definition of “bullying,” or this is a difficult task that does not really have a straightforward answer?
  •  Students will also be given time at the end of this lesson to reflect in their journals. They can address any of the questions raised during class discussion, or respond according to their own personal feelings or experiences.

            Students will be assessed both formally and informally throughout these activities. I will monitor their participation during the planning and performance portions of the Bullying Scenarios – did they contribute to planning and practicing their group’s mini-performance? Did they take the task seriously and act respectfully during their and other performances? I will assess their participation in class discussions, as well. They will be assessed for their active listening, respectful and thoughtful contributions, and overall level of engagement and involvement. I will also formally assess their journal entries from the end of the lesson. I will check to be sure they reflected on the activities and the overall topic of what is bullying?

            In terms of differentiation, I believe that this lesson includes content, process, and product that is all varied for the different students and different needs in a classroom. The content on bullying is varied so that students of varying readiness levels can be successful in grasping it. The goals of this lesson, and the content that I am teaching, are concerned with what bullying is and the various types of bullying that can occur – I believe that students of different readiness levels will grasp this in varying ways, and the lesson allows for that. The processes in this lesson are varied to allow for different students’ preferences and such. There is large group discussion as well as more personal, independent reflection, so different students can respond and thrive with what suits them best. I am assessing the “product” in varied ways – by observing behavior, monitoring participation, and analyzing reflection. Students have many varied ways to respond and show what they have learned and gleaned from the activities.

Bullying Scenario Cards

Scenario A: Jessica is constantly teasing Ashley about her weight. During class, she pokes her with her pencil or finger and makes comments about her shape and overall appearance. At lunchtime, Jessica makes jokes about what Ashley brings to eat for lunch, so that many of their classmates can hear. Some classmates laugh, some join in, and some pretend to ignore the situation and not hear the comments being made. Ashley is beginning to stop bringing a lunch to school, out of humiliation.

  • Jessica
  • Ashley
  •  Classmates/Bystanders (3-4, with varying roles/actions)

Scenario B: Lately, Alex just can’t seem to “stay out of Matthew’s way.” Anytime that Alex happens to be walking near Matthew in the hallway or out at recess, Matthew shoves Alex and criticizes him for walking “too slow,” “too close to him,” or just for “being in his way.” Matthew never pushes him in the classroom or around any teachers or adults, but frequently does so at other times. Matthew also gets close to Alex’s face and threatens him with physical harm if he doesn’t move or do other such things.
  • Alex
  • Matthew
  • Classmates/Bystanders (3-4, with varying roles/actions)

Scenario C: Jasmine used to be part of a big group of close girl friends, but lately, things have changed a bit. She’s never invited to any plans that the girls have, and whenever she tries to sit with them at lunch like she always used to, the spots are always “taken” already. Felicia used to be her best friend in the group, and they still talk and hang out outside of school, but when Felicia sees Jasmine in school, Felicia passes by without acknowledging her. The girls whisper and laugh as Jasmine walks by, and have started to spread rumors about her around the school.

  • Jasmine
  • Felicia
  • Group of Friends (3-4, with varying roles/actions)

Scenario D: Akhil and Ben have recently been harassing Darryl online after school. They post messages on Facebook that make fun of Darryl, and constantly instant message Darryl with ridiculing comments. They send messages to him at such a rapid rate, that Darryl has been forced to block their messages. Still, though, the messages on Facebook are viewed by a large number of students at their school. Akhil and Ben also decided to create a private group on Facebook, in which students post comments and stories about Darryl.

  •  Akhil
  • Ben
  •  Darryl
  • Other message “posters” and “readers” (2-3, with varying roles/actions)