“As you view this video, look for characters that are one of these four words: VICTIM .  PERPETRATOR . BYSTANDER . UPSTANDER,” I instructed my 6th grade readers.

All easily identified the deer/antelop/kangaroo/brown animal as the victim.
All called the wolf (due to the tail, all agreed he was a wolf) the perpetrator.
All agreed the boy was the bystander.
A few thought, they had to identify an upstander too but came to realize, without any evidence to support it, there wasn’t an upstander in this video. (A sign that they are growing in their thinking!) Some noticed the detail that the boy grew a tail as he walked away making his inaction evidence of becooming perpetrator, too (Another sign of gowing their thinking!)

Then I posed a few more questions:
Why didn’t the boy act as an upstander? What would you have done?

A discussion around fear and being only one person erupted at each table group of four.
“I’m just a kid. I’d run away.”
“I’d call the police.”
“I’d make a distracting noise and maybe throw something to distract the wolf and maybe the deer could run away.”

“Let’s use these same four words to discuss the stories we read during this unit.
Stray by Cynthia Rylant.
Doris was the upstander when she brought the puppy in out of the snow.

The dad was the perpetrator.
But not at the end. He was an upstander then.
ME: Who was the perpetrator?
The animal shelter.

Burrito Man by Lulu Delacre
Alex was the victim because she didn’t want to go to work with her dad.
The dad was the victim at the end.
ME: Who was the perpetrator?
The heart attack.

Inside-Out by Francisco Jimenez
Francisco is the victim.
Curtis was the perpetrator.
The teacher is a perpetrator too.
Maybe the school system is the perpetrator. It isn’t welcoming ELL learners.

I could see we were broadening our thinking. Upstanders stand up when the people in front of us are having a disagreement or fight. Upstanders also stand up by supporting issue that effect groups, like abusive animal shelters, heart attacks and outdated educational practices. I was ready to explain the end of unit project – a chance for each student to choose an issue and make an action plan to be an upstander.

I can’t wait to see these projects!


9 thoughts on “Upstander

  1. livinglife816287820 says:

    This is one of the points we went over today with my ESL students, “I will speak up instead of being a bystander”… Upstanders, we certainly need them in society. I’ll be introducing the concept into my writing classes now, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mgminer says:

    That’s some hefty teaching and learning. I hope you’ll share what the students produce. It was my 9th grade history teacher that opened my thinking to the wider world. I’ve always been grateful and have a vivid picture of him sitting on his desk wearing “desert boots” and a corduroy jacket with suede elbow patches.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. paulabourque says:

    Sally this was such a great post. Loved the simple video that was open to interpretation and analysis on so many levels. I’m going to add this to my collection of videos for social emotional quick writes. These are real life dilemmas that our students will face (or are already facing) in life. Exploring them from the safety of books and videos is a great way to give them the tools to deal with those decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

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