Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #7

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School Violence: Is It in Your Backyard?
Examining Recent Trends in School Violence

Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Social Studies

In the wake of school shootings in schools in the United States and Canada students are encouraged to share, through discussion and writing, their feelings about violence in schools, as well as about ways in which such incidents and tragedies could be prevented.




1. WARM-UP/DO-NOW: In the first five minutes of class, students free-write about the topic of violence in schools. Students should be encouraged to write about whatever aspect of violence in schools they wish. Students should then share their responses in class.

. Search the Internet for websites on school violence and bullying, the Littleton Massacre, Taber, Alberta, http://www.bullying.org etc. Ask Class to discuss articles they have found regarding this issue focussing on the following questions:

  • What details are known about the events leading up to the Littleton Massacre and the shooting in Taber, Alberta, during and after the school shooting?
  • What is known about the shooter or shooters? Their personalities, problems?
  • What investigative, community steps are being taken to better understand this type of violent act?
  • How, in your opinion, might this violent act have been prevented? What can we, as students, teachers, community members, do now to help prevent such acts in the future?

3. In round-table discussion format, have students review the article written by SNN Reporter and allow students to discuss their reactions to school violence as well as the possible causes and repercussions of such actions. It may be helpful to include your school's guidance counselor in this discussion. Though the discussion will most likely be easily driven by student comments, some guiding questions are offered below.

  • How do you feel about school shootings and school violence in general?
  • How do recent school shootings compare to the incident at Columbine High School?
  • Why does such violence occur?
  • What warning signs might youngsters exhibit that may hint at violent tendencies or thoughts?
  • Could such violence happen in your school?
  • How can violence in schools be prevented?

4. WRAP-UP/ HOMEWORK: Assign students a feature or opinion writing exercise in which they simply reflect on the class discussion and news coverage of school violence in Canada and the United States. Allow students the opportunity to voice whatever they wish about violence in schools, its causes and its effects.

Their article should answer the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How). Tell them about the inverted pyramid. This means that articles should be written with the most important information first and the least important last. Use the SNN Writing Guide to show students how to write an article.

5. Once assignments are completed, students can publish their articles in their own school newspaper or submit them to an online youth ezine for publication.


Students will be evaluated based on participation in class discussions and written assignment.



  1. Create a guide for other students, parents, and members of the community about gun violence, other forms of violence, and warning signs of troubled youngsters.
  2. Examine both sides of the gun control debate. How do school shootings affect your opinions, and why? Organize a debate in your class or write an opinion article for publication online with SNN.

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