In my last post, Intellectual Freedom & Internet Filtering, I shared a few ideas about how school librarians can help schools create and implement policies that both keep students safe online and provide them opportunities to develop the 21st Century Skills they need to successfully navigate our increasingly participatory culture. In that post, I referred to the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act (2008) which requires that schools receiving E-rate discounts provide students with education about appropriate online behavior. One opportunity for school librarians to take an active role in providing online safety and anti-cyberbullying education is to plan classes and events that complement and reinforce anti-bullying initiatives already taking place in their schools.
At the Vagabond Boy’s middle school, October is a really big deal. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and this middle school goes all out with dress up days, outdoor rallies, and prevention posters in every hallway. One of the dress-up days the school had inspired me to think of an anti-cyberbullying event that would be a perfect fit for a school library.
My Vagabond Boy participated in all the anti-bullying month dress-up days, but there was one day in particular that he and his friends talked, planned, and Skyped each other about–Superhero Day. Their excitement made me think, “Why not a CyberHero event?” A library CyberHero event could focus on helping students synthesize what they are learning in a school-wide anti-bullying campaign and give them a chance to transfer and apply that knowledge to their online behavior to create something fun that would serve to help others.
As a school librarian, I would raise awareness and excitement about the library CyberHero event by visiting classes to show a short anti-bullying film created by students (like the one below), to briefly talk about online safety, and to announce the opportunity for students to create their own anti-cyberbullying Public Service Announcements and posters at the library event.
I would hold the CyberHero event all day in the library in conjunction with Superhero dress up day, inviting teachers to sign up to bring their classes to the library throughout the day, and opening the library to students before and after school. In the library that day, I would provide centers for writing, audio interviews, video PSA creation, and poster creation. And, I would work in advance to reach out to community members to volunteer at the event. A local disc jockey to help at the audio interview center, perhaps? Each center would feature opportunities and prompts to inspire students to share their stories and suggestions about staying safe online, responsible online behavior, and stepping up as heroes who will help stamp out cyberbullying. These student creations would then be featured on the library website, on the school announcement channel, and throughout the library and school hallways.
This program could stand on its own as an enrichment to the school’s anti-bullying campaign, or it could be the kick-off event to a longer library learning unit about online safety and cyberbully awareness.
Interested in learning more about online safety? Anti-cyberbullying? Try out the following resources:
For elementary kids, Webonauts Academy from PBS is a great place to start.
For preteens and tweens, try Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport for Kids.
And, check out the Cyberbullying Research Center for more parent, educator, and student resources.