Bringing Peace to Children

Just like you, recent events have rocked me to the core. As humanity’s ugly underbelly is exposed with mange and open sores that continue to bleed, I’m seeking hope. For me, it lies with children. I have seen first hand that these innocents desire justice and harmony. I believe children have the power to create profound change in our world. If there is ever to be true peace, it must transcend the generations. But first they must dream of the changes they want. Here are ten creative ideas I’ve used with my students. Let’s all begin the change.

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1. Make Peace Cards.

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2. Make an anti-bully poster.

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3. Draw cartoons dealing a bully.

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4. Paint a peace sign on a paper plate.

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5. Create a Love the Earth card.

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6. Make a dream board.

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7. Photograph someone doing a kind act.

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8. Create a dance high-fiving and smiling with your buds.

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9. Film a video of yourself singing a peace song.

Colby Jeffers: Change the World

10. Paint a self-portrait.

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Any more ideas? Share  and we’ll turn 10 to 10,000!

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Children Honoring Dr. King

This Martin Luther King Day I am thinking back to making an anti-bullying video last year. When I first heard about the contest, I thought it’d be a great way to teach my kids about how to deal with bullying. So I wrote a script, had some auditions, and started filming the munchkins in imaginary bullying situations. I was lucky to have such good actors this year who were open to retakes, but still it was pretty tough to try and fit filming into our already busy schedule. Most of it occurred during recesses.

And the due date was fast approaching.

One of the greatest challenges was finding a quiet place at school to film the scenes.  We don’t have any special equipment like muff-covered microphones or special lights. Just an IPad. We’d be in the middle of one with the kids rocking their acting and the bell would ring or a ball would roll our way with a second-grader right behind.

So with a groan I’d delete that take and try again.

On the last day before all entries were due, I tried taking the kids to behind the school, thinking that would be quiet and protected from the blustery winds of Santa Maria. And it worked, sort-of. But then there was another announcement while filming.

With recess over, what choice did I have? We were out of time so I had to use the scene.

And was surprised as heck with how good the video came out.

But would we win?

Weeks passed. No news. The kids kept asking me if I’d heard anything and I had to shake my head no. Then one morning there was an email in my inbox.

“Dear Laurie,

We are delighted to inform you that you are a Winner in the Take A Stand Against Bullying Video Contest sponsored by Oxy Skin Care. The Scholastic and Oxy teams were so impressed with the caliber of work; your students should be very proud!” I read the other morning as my fifth-grade students were getting out their homework.

“Yahoo! We won! We won!” I crowed jumping up and down in front of my astonished class.

“What, Ms. Woodward?”

“The video we made won the national contest!”

There was silence for a moment then a roar of cheers, applause and desk pounding so deafening  I was sure the principal would come in any second and tell us to quiet down. Kids leapt into the air, high-fiving each-other while I did a victory Salsa dance across the room.

I love being a teacher.

 

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The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Art Can Bring Peace: 10 Ways

I believe children have the power to create profound change in our world. If there is ever to be true peace, it must transcend the generations. But first they must dream of the changes they want creatively. Here are ten ideas to begin the change.

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1. Make Peace Cards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2. Make an anti-bully poster.

images (1)

3. Draw cartoons dealing with a bully.

images

4. Paint a peace sign on a paper plate.

peace

5. Create a Love the Earth card.

348d04fd5a196a7a13478bd60b21f7d4

6. Make a dream board.

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7. Photograph someone doing a kind act.

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8. Create a dance high-fiving and smiling with your buds.

B00ER8HHIO_img2_lg

9. Film a video of yourself singing a peace song.

Peace Song

10. Paint a self-portrait.

frostselfportraits

Any more ideas? Share  and we’ll turn 10 to 10,000!

We Won the National Video Contest!

“Dear Laurie,

We are delighted to inform you that you are a Winner in the Take A Stand Against Bullying Video Contest sponsored by Oxy Skin Care. The Scholastic and Oxy teams were so impressed with the caliber of work; your students should be very proud!” I read the other morning as my fifth-grade students were getting out their homework.

“Yahoo! We won! We won!” I crowed jumping up and down in front of my astonished class.

“What, Ms. Woodward?”

“The video we made won the national contest!”

There was silence for a moment then a roar of cheers, applause and desk pounding so deafening  I was sure the principal would come in any second and tell us to quiet down. Kids leapt into the air, high-fiving each-other while I did a victory Salsa dance across the room.

When I first heard about the contest, I thought it’d be a great way to teach my kids about how to deal with bullying. So I wrote a script, had some auditions, and started filming the munchkins in imaginary bullying situations. I was lucky to have such good actors this year who were open to retakes, but still it was pretty tough to try and fit filming into our already busy schedule. Most of it occurred during recesses.

And the due date was fast approaching.

One of the greatest challenges was finding a quiet place at school to film the scenes.  We don’t have any special equipment like muff-covered microphones or special lights. Just an IPad. We’d be in the middle of one with the kids rocking their acting and the bell would ring or a ball would roll our way with a second-grader right behind.

So with a groan I’d delete that take and try again.

On the last day before all entries were due, I tried taking the kids to behind the school, thinking that would be quiet and protected from the blustery winds of Santa Maria. And it worked, sort-of. But then there was another announcement while filming.

With recess over, what choice did I have? We were out of time so I had to use the scene.

And was surprised as heck with how good the video came out.

 

Do I Make a Difference?

Do I make a difference? Has my work changed anything? These are the questions I recently asked myself before going on the Dave Congalton Radio program. For several years now, I have taught groups of fifth and sixth graders assertiveness, peer mediation, and communication skills but didn’t know if there’d been any lasting effects. So recently when Dave asked me for interview ideas I  asked him if he’d like to talk to one of my former student volunteers.

Dave agreed so I contacted sixteen-year-old Mikayla Thompson, a former friend mediator, about doing the show. She said she’d love to appear on Dave Congalton Hometown Radio to look at the long-term effects of early intervention. Mikayla Thompson was just ten when she volunteered her recesses to stop bullying on our campus. For two years of elementary school, she worked with a core group of students to promote peace on campus. Using scripts I wrote, non-violence techniques, and assertiveness training these kids helped to make our school a better place.

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I knew those kids helped our school while they were there but I had no idea if the prevention and intervention tools we taught had any long term-term effects.

But I hoped.

On Monday, November 19th I picked Mikayla up for the ride to the KVEC Studio. What she shared then and during the next two hours blew me away. Not only has she stood up to bullies for these past six years but she also has comforted victims, helped her siblings work out conflicts, and gone on to volunteer for the Make a Wish foundation. She was a resilient child. I was so proud I couldn’t stop grinning.

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During the interview she was poised, thoughtful, and kind as she shared some of her stories. Not only had early intervention made a difference in her life, but Mikayla was paying it forward and helping other teens to cope. For the entire interview, click on the following link:

Interview with Mikayla and Laurie

Tips for parents and educators:

  1. Be on the lookout for changes in behavior. If a child suddenly becomes withdrawn or reluctant to attend school, they might be experiencing bullying.
  2. Ask specific questions about how he/she is interacting with others.
  3. Be vigilant with social media. Cyber-bullying is on the rise.
  4. Role-play ways to deal with bullying as in the Peace Card.
  5. Seek help. My website, Artania.net has scores of free lessons and ideas.Copy of card back 

    A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

You Are an Artist

Art. What does it make you think of? Is it a canvas splashed with paint or a sculpted bust? Do you think it’s important for our society and should children pursue this ethereal discipline?

Some would say no, arguing that children need reading, writing and math to compete in today’s global economy. And as a teacher, as well as an author I agree. Some of the time. I want every single one of my students to have the skills they need to succeed in an ever-changing economy.

But not by forgetting the people they are inside.

I believe that every man, woman, and child have a wondrous inside of them that is absolutely unique. It is their creative selves. And when we foster it, magic happens. That’s why I wrote The Artania Chronicles.

As a teacher, I’ve seen many changes over the years. And one of the saddest I saw was the increased emphasis on testing with less and less of the arts. It started to feel as if we were denying a beautiful part of children.  As I explored this idea, my mind began to turn art into living beings that carried out their lives in a parallel dimension.

That was the birth of Artania. There the Mona Lisa, the David, and the Thinker go about their lives. But they aren’t independent of us. For every time a human child turns away from his/her true self and denies their artistic gifts, an evil race gains power.

To me, the hunch-backed, yellow-eyed, dream-invading monsters, I call Shadow Swine, represent the destruction of that most beautiful part of humanity. That incomparable part that is our art.

Some of you might be painters whose canvases are splashed with color. Others might pursue dance or music. A few might find the art in their athleticism or acting or creating the perfect meal. Or perhaps you are a writer, like me, and love the places the words take you to.  But the cool think is that no one can act, sing, dance, paint, wordsmith, arrange, or bake exactly like you.

Because you are each an artist in your own way.

 

A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

 

What Is Your Bullying Story?

Recently, I shared how  bullying affected me. How by fourteen its unrelenting cruelty made a forever sleep look like the only solution.

I know that many of you have suffered just as much or more and want to provide a forum to share your stories. If you were taunted, teased, pushed, called names, and lived in the shadows, please share.

Who knows, one of your stories just might help someone else feel a little less alone.

Let’s change these statistics.

According to the National Education Association, PACER Center, and StopBullying.gov:

• 1 in 7 students in grades K – 12 are either a bully or have been a victim of bullying.
• An estimated 160,000 U.S. children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students.
• 83% of girls and 79% of boys report experiencing harassment.
• Six out of 10 teenagers say they witness bullying in school once a day.
• 35% of kids have been threatened online.
• Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBTQ youth report being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
• 57% of boys and 43% of girls reported being bullied because of religious or cultural differences.
• Bullies often go on to perpetrate violence later in life: 40% of boys identified as bullies in grades 6 through 9 had three or more arrests by age 30.
• One out of every 10 students who drop out of school does so because of repeated incidents of bullying.
• 75% of shooting incidents at schools have been linked to bullying and harassment.
• 64% of children who were bullied did not report it.
• Nearly 70% of students think schools respond poorly to bullying.
• When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds  57% of the time.

 

A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

Interviewed to Address Bullying

“I’ve tried to keep my FB posts positive throughout the summer, but I can’t ignore the grim reality of young children committing suicide. Earlier this month, it was a 9-year-old Denver student named Jamel who hung himself after being bullied for being gay.” Radio talk show host, Dave Congalton, writes on his Facebook page.

“9 years old. 9.

Here’s the sad truth from the New York Times: “Jamel’s death comes amid a startling rise in youth suicides, part of a larger public health crisis that has unfolded over a generation: Even as access to mental health care has expanded, the suicide rate in the United States has risen 25 percent since 1999. Middle- schoolers are now just as likely to die from suicide as they are from traffic accidents.”

Middle-schoolers are now just as likely to die from suicide as they are from traffic accidents?????

We’re going to discuss this on the radio today (Wednesday) at 5:05 on 920 AM KVEC with local teachers Laurie Woodward and Mila Vujovich-La Barre, both of whom are heavily involved in their school’s efforts to combat bullying. I certainly don’t have the solution, but it begins with dialogue. Hope you can join us.”

And join him we did, spending two hours brainstorming with Dave and callers about how to prevent and combat this blight on our society.

For the entire interview please click below. And let’s all work together to prevent further tragedies like these from occurring.

 

Radio Interview Part 1

Radio Interview Part 2

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Thank you Dave and Mila. It was truly an honor.

In addition to hosting a popular radio show for the past 26 years, Dave Congalton is a screenwriter, producer,  former director of the Central Coast Writer’s Conference, and award-winning author.  His books include Three Cats, Two Dogs: One Journey Through Multiple Pet Loss, When Your Pet Outlives You: Protecting Animal Companions After You Die, with co-author Charlotte Alexander and The Talk Radio Guest Book with co-author Deborah Bayles. His screenplay, Author’s Anonymous, starring Kaley Cuoco and directed by Ellie Kanner was released as a major film in 2014.

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For more information about Dave see: http://davidcongalton.com/# or http://www.920kvec.com/

 

A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

Making Peace Cards

“Ms. Woodward! She’s being mean to me!” “Mom, he went in my room again!” “Mr. Garcia, Sam won’t play with me.”  If  these outbursts sound familiar, you’ve probably found that every fix was temporary. And frustrating.  But don’t worry, most teachers and parents feel the same way.

So what to do? If you can’t fix these problems, who will?

The children.

For years, I tried solving problems for my students only to have them come back with the same exact issue a week later. Then I started to research conflict resolution, reading everything I could find on bullying and peace. I then took a course from Teachers Without Borders on peace in the classroom and began to experiment with tools for solving conflicts.

That’s when I hit on the idea of Peace Cards. Once I  started using them, I was amazed at the results.  They really work.
Why?
They empower children to come up with solutions themselves.

Here are the steps I go through with my students:

First,  you’ll need to teach them the three types of conflict resolution.

Materials:  Index cards, markers or crayons, whiteboard.

Step 1) Write the following on the board, chart paper or electronic whiteboard:
a) Passive = Giving in to another. (lose, win)
b) Aggressive = Attacking another. (lose, lose)
c) Assertive = Be firm with desired outcome. (win, win)
Step 2) Explain to children that these are the three ways that conflicts or problems can be resolved.
Step 3) Give examples of each. a) Passive might be when one child says, “Give me your lunch money,” and the other gives it freely. In this case the victim loses but the bully wins.( lose, win)  b) Aggressive might be when one child says, “Give me your lunch money,” and the other responds by punching him in the nose. In this case both get hurt and in trouble. (lose, lose) c)Assertive vocabulary is when one child says, “Give me your lunch money,” and the other responds with a strong no without resorting to name calling. (win,win)

I usually invite a student to role play these choices with me, overacting in a silly way with overly exaggerated gestures to get them to laugh about how ridiculous it is to punch a kid (for aggressive behavior) or to shrink away with a Charlie Brown voice (for passive behavior.) Then we role play the assertive no demonstrating the effectiveness of standing up for yourself peacefully.

Step 4) Write three headings on the board

Passive                  Aggressive                      Assertive

 

Ask students to give examples of when they’ve experienced each and record their responses.

Step 5) Show students examples of Peace Cards. Go over good choice examples written on the back. Then Pass out index cards and invite children to make their own positive choice for conflict resolution. They draw and write a caption for a good choice.

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Step 6) Collect. Place inside a basket or a box in a easily visible place. This will remind the       class of positive choices for the future. Tell students that if they ever have a conflict with another child in the future they can make a new card or share an existing one with him/her.

Follow up: Now whenever students have conflicts that do not need serious intervention by an adult, tell them to use these tools. Have the disagreeing children discuss how to come up with a win-win situation and then invite them to make Peace Cards about how they could handle the situation better.

You’ll be surprised at their solutions.
Good luck!

 

A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.