I attended an arts-integration conference through the Innovative Schools Network in June, and I remember calling Andy during lunch from the conference one day feeling fresh and inspired. I told him one of my goals was to integrate art into each of my quarter units in humanities this year. I consider myself an artist in many ways, an actress and musician. I feel it is important to expose our youth to various art forms in authentic and purposeful ways, if not to recognize their own artistic talents, to gain awareness, appreciation, and respect toward this thing we call “the arts.”
During our first quarter, we did a large unit on bullying to connect to our “Be the Solution” theme in the ARCTIC Zone. During the eight weeks, we spent time defining bullying in its different forms, reading real stories about people’s experiences (in all roles), sharing our own stories, and exploring four ways for bystanders to “step up” into the role of an upstander.
Students worked in small groups to create abstract dramas to represent the following scenes, each separated by a dramatic freeze frame:
The Incident: The event occurring between victim and bully as observed by a bystander.
The Scream: A representation of the inner emotions of the victim following the incident.
The Upstander: An example of a bystander stepping into an upstander role.
The Apology: A step-by-step tutorial on how to properly and formally apologize.
The Difference: A representation of the inner emotions of the victim after receiving a genuine apology.
For weeks, we pieced together each new segment – discussing, creating, rehearsing, presenting, critiquing, revising, REPEAT! What started as excitement about “doing a skit” in class became the embodiment of a very real problem and very real emotion.
Next, they wrote a song. You read that right! I provided the melody and the chorus (credit to Stuart Stotts), and after discussing song patterns, rhythms, and rhymes, they each wrote a verse for the song. I have to admit my initial apprehensions. I spent weeks trying to decide if this was something I truly wanted to try. What if they don’t want to write a song? What if they can’t figure out the rhythm patterns? What if they don’t take it seriously? I am ashamed for thinking any of these things. You would think I would know better by now! They will ALWAYS rise to the challenge and blow you away! The emotion, the creativity, and the beauty in the lyrics they wrote moved me to tears. Apparently this happens to me a lot…
Each class was given free reign to compile their dramas and song into a final video to post to our public YouTube channel. Each video is unique and distinct from the others. If I could do it all over again, I’m not sure I would have them create a video, for with drama, live-performances nearly always capture the emotion better. Spending time exploring camera angles and shots perhaps could have helped, as well. Oh, well. Next time.
The links to each of our class videos are below, followed by several song verses that stood out to me for one reason or another. I invite comments, as my students are reading this, as well, and would love the feedback.
Stand Up Chorus:
Stand up for yourself
Stand up for someone else
Stand up for you and me
Make this school bully free
Was minding my own business when I saw it
At recess all the kids crowded around
Told a teacher but she just ignored me
And the bullies pushed him to the ground
We’re not happy you were in the office
Listen, you should stop and make amends
We don’t tolerate bullies in our house
Stop before you lose all of your friends
I can’t make any friends when I’m near you
Everyone starts to be cruel to me
You guys are trying to isolate me
Why can’t you guys just let me be free
Why is everybody afraid of me?
I am just trying to make a joke
Everybody thinks I am a bully
When I apologize I tend to choke
When you’re in class you learn about bullies
Some say that you should go tell an adult
But when a teacher is the one you’re fearing
You really wonder who you should consult
Sometimes it’s tough when you’re just a small kid
You always seem to be just way too scared
When you have a friend right there beside you
Then some things are way easier to bear