Pre-work Activity Suggestions

Before your students explore the case study, you may want to try one or more of the following short suggested activities that introduce key themes and help develop a common language for discussions about bullying and ostracism.


  1. Building a Vocabulary:

    Individually or in small groups, have your students build working definitions to deepen understanding of some or all of these key terms:

    • Belonging
    • Bullying
    • Bystander
    • Conformity
    • Exclusion
    • Inclusion
    • Membership
    • Ostracism
    • Peer Pressure
    • Perpetrator
    • Victim
  2. Think-Pair-Share on Personal Experiences of Bullying and Ostracism:

    This discussion technique gives students the opportunity to thoughtfully respond to questions in written form and to engage in meaningful dialogues with other students. Asking students to write and discuss ideas with a partner before sharing with the larger group gives students more time to compose their ideas. This format helps students build confidence, encourages greater participation and often results in more thoughtful discussions.

    Step One: Think
    Have students reflect on the following prompt or write a response in their journals:

    Reflect on a time when you saw, heard or experienced bullying. You may have been a victim, a bystander, or even been the person to bully or ostracize another, causing them emotional or physical pain. Describe the experience and the emotions you felt at the time. Now looking back on the incident, do you wish you had acted differently in any way?

    Step Two: Pair
    Have students pair up with one other student and share their responses.

    Step Three: Share
    When the larger group reconvenes, ask pairs to report back on their conversations.  Alternatively, you could ask students to share what their partner said.  In this way, this strategy focuses on students’ skills as careful listeners.

  3. Building a Definition:

    Working together in small groups, have your students create working definitions of the word bullying. Then as a full group, read aloud the following definition from the U.S. Department of Justice's 2002 report, Bullying in Schools:

    Bullying has two key components: repeated harmful acts and an imbalance of power. It involves repeated physical, verbal or psychological attacks or intimidation directed against a victim who cannot properly defend him- or herself because of size or strength, or because the victim is outnumbered or less psychologically resilient.

    Bullying includes assault, tripping, intimidation, rumorspreading and isolation, demands for money, destruction of property, theft of valued possessions, destruction of another's work, and name-calling.

    In the United States, several other school behaviors (some of which are illegal) are recognized as forms of bullying, such as:

    • sexual harassment (e.g., repeated exhibitionism, voyeurism, sexual propositioning, and sexual abuse involving unwanted physical contact);
    • ostracism based on perceived sexual orientation; and
    • hazing (e.g., upper-level high school athletes' imposing painfully embarrassing initiation rituals on their new freshmen teammates).1

Full group discussion questions:

  • How does the definition from Bullying in Schools compare to the definitions you created? What's missing? What aspects of bullying did you choose to emphasize? Are they different than the Justice Department's emphases?
  • Did the definition from Bullying in Schools change the way you think about bullying?
  • This definition was created in 2002 before cyberbullying was a widespread problem. How have social media tools such as texting and Facebook changed how we think about bullying?


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