Here in the Norfolk Public schools, the Bullying Prevention Curriculum we have chosen is the MARC (Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center) program out of Bridgewater State University. Students in Kindergarten through 5th grade have been using this curriculum paired with the Open Circle social competency program all year. An exciting part of the MARC program is paired lessons about bullying. On May 18th our Kindergarteners had a wonderful time with their 5th grade mentors and on May 22nd, our First Graders enjoyed a visit with their 4th grade mentors.
In every classroom there was upward to 55 students, yet everyone was engaged, respectful and used their quiet “indoor voices” and the hour flew by! Many children told me later they wished they had more time together or the opportunity for more visits and interactions.
It was exciting to watch the students interact and share. I was impressed by the maturity of the 4th and 5th graders and how seriously they took their role as mentors. This lesson was set up so the mentors “ran the show”. They were well schooled regarding the content and breakdown of the lesson and were ready to “teach and discuss”. It was wonderful to see our older students embrace this responsibility and rise to the occasion. The 4th and 5th graders all practiced reading a book about bullying before they came to visit and were very well prepared to lead a book discussion. The mentors also led a discussion about bully specific vocabulary and what to do if you or someone else is being bullied. (Take a minute and ask your child to define/explain some of the vocabulary we use including: ally, bully, egger, bystander, target/victim.) The final part of the lesson allowed time for students to create an Anti-Bullying poster. It was wonderful to see the various messages students decided to focus on and how they pulled in vocabulary and parts of the stories they read together. You can view the posters in the hallways at HOD. Next time you visit, take a look to see what kind of messages our students are sharing about bullying prevention.
I send a big thank you to each and every student in the 4th and 5th grade classes - You did an amazing job! By the same token, I was incredibly proud of our young students at HOD. They were excited, gave their mentors a warmwelcome and were ready to listen and share, I send a big thank you to all of our Kindergarten and First Graders as well!
May thanks to the K, 1st, 4th and 5th grade teachers who helped facilitate and support the pairings and were the all-important “time keepers”. Another thank you to the librarians and teachers who helped us compile an amazing number of books for these visits. We collected over 90 books which was quite a feat!
These lessons went so well, teachers and students alike have asked to do it again next year. That is the sign of a positive outcome! Perhaps next year we will host two visits and create even stronger connections between younger and older students.
Many thanks to everyone who gave support to this program and helped it come to fruition! A big thank you to Cheryl Lassey, School Adjustment Counselor at the Freeman, who was my co-leader in this project.
If you are interested in finding out more about the MARC or Open Circle programs, please go to the following links: