Designing, Developing and Delivering a Technology-Based Bullying Prevention Lesson for Parents and Communities

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March 2005 was the deadliest month for U.S. school shootings since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. This time, the tragedy struck at a Minnesota high school when a teenager shot and killed nine people, including a security guard, a teacher and five students, before taking his own life — once again escalating American concerns for schoolsafety issues and bullying prevention policies (Reuters 2005). Although school districts endeavor to integrate antiviolenceprograms within their schools, the problem d'esn’t stop there; it involves the entire community.

In 2003, one suburban Pittsburgh community expanded its bullying prevention efforts by implementing aprogram for elementary schools that had a separate component for children and their parents. The parental componentof this program was met through a technology-based lesson developed by Debbie Piecka (one of the article’sauthors), a graduate student in Duquesne University’s instructional technology program.

The parental program culminated Piecka’s semester-long instructional technology practicum at Duquesne.Before completing the program and receiving their Pennsylvania certifications in instructional technology, the graduatestudents were expected to show the pragmatic results of their classroom preparation, mastery of technology basedinstructional applications, and theoretical comprehension of technology for teaching and learning.

The design of the technology-based component for parents to use at home or in seminars is a CD-ROM withthree components: an integrated Web page, a PowerPoint presentation and a text-based workbook. The CD-ROM alsoprovides a startup menu to help guide parents through the bullying content and contains links to the lesson’s three components.

Web page. The “Strategies to Change Bullying Behavior in Schools” Web page launches the lesson and providesnavigational instructions about objectives, assessment and exploratory Web sites. It links directly to learningobjectives that take parents through a video which depicts bullying behavior in school-age children. The Web page alsohas links to bullying-related sites that are prepared by educational organizations.

Piecka infused the site’s home page with the essential components required for instruction as definedby Tomei (2001). These elements include an introduction, instructions, lesson objectives, Web sites for learnerexploration, assessment information, and an author’s address block. In addition, Piecka developed a virtualtour which offers a more sophisticated, student-focused Web page that presents “multi-sensory, multimedia instructionappropriate for individual [learner] exploration and group learning experiences” (Tomei 2001). Thus, thelearner is provided with a “front door” that accommodates multiple learning styles matched to the content offered.

Slide show presentation. The PowerPoint presentation, titled “Parental Role in Bullying Prevention,” focuseson reducing the number of bullying incidents in schools by introducing parents to the following content: bullyingdefinitions, information about national statistics, common bullying behaviors, parental responsibilities, as well asunchecked bullying effects and their impact. The presentation also offers parents visually rich slides depictingactual bullying locations in their own schools — a powerful graphic for stirring parents of both bullies and their targetsinto action.

Workbook. The text-based Together in Parenting workbook provides the assessment piece for the lesson andfunctions as a guide for the interactive CD-ROM components. Although many adults in this community demonstratedsound technological skills, face-to-face workshops on the “Parental Role” lesson were offered to ensure the widest dissemination of the program. In addition, the workbook promoted note-taking, face-to-face questions and answers, as well as provided opportunitiesfor future review while alone or with family members.

Conclusion

Besides achieving the instructional goals and objectives of the practicum, Piecka’s project created a valuableresource for schools and communities. Not only d'es the project use technology to deliver the content, but it alsoprovides opportunities for child-parent interaction and individualized, self-paced learning to reduce bullying incidentsin our schools. Regardless of the glitz of technology, the only measure of a successful technology-based program ofinstruction is increased understanding. By combining text, visual and Web based resources, Piecka, her schooldistrict and her community made a commitment to create a learning environment free from intimidationand bullying. The “Parental Role in Bullying Prevention” project is designed to assist school districtpersonnel in developing a learning climate that is challenging, understanding, supportive, excitingand free from threat — with technology as its tool.

For more information about the “Parental Role in Bullying Prevention” project, visit http://users.adelphia.net/~dpiecka.

References

Reuters. 2005. “Ten Dead in Minnesota School Shooting.” 27 March. Retrieved April 4, 2005,from http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=602448.

Tomei, L. 2001. Teaching Digitally: A Guide for Integrating Technology Into the Classroom.Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishers.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.

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