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Conflict Communication Class at MC Helps Grade School Students to Handle Bullying

posted Nov 30, 2011 in ACADEMICS

Alex Stillwell, junior, Cunningham, Kan., shows off glasses made with kindergarten students to help them think about seeing from someone else’s perspective.
Students studying conflict communication at McPherson College received some practical experience – by helping resolve conflicts.

Thanks to a $7,500 grant from Kansas Campus Compact to Dr. Becki Bowman, assistant professor communication, students in her conflict communication class had the excellent opportunity to put what they learned in the classroom to practical use. The students in her class developed activities designed to help students prevent and deal with conflict and bullying. Then they presented an activity during the week of Nov.14 to grade school students at Washington Elementary School.

“The students have risen to the occasion,” Dr. Bowman said. “They have taken it seriously and they’ve created some really great activities that will be useful to the elementary students.”

Traci Anderson, junior, Derby, Kan., was in a group developing activities to help grade school students recognize and appreciate the positive attributes of others. One activity was to read the book “It’s OK to be Different”, then have them draw a picture of themselves and write on the back something that makes them different that isn’t visible.

“We’re trying to teach them that it’s OK to be different and to use those differences to get to know other people,” Anderson said.
Anderson will also be taking the lessons to a Girl Scout summer camp in Minnesota. She said taking the lessons to an actual classroom has been fun and helped her to remember the principles of conflict communication.

“It allows us to take what we’re learning out of the classroom and apply it in real-world situations,” she said. “It helps it stick.”

Paxton Lanning, sophomore, Fort Worth, Texas, worked with his group to develop activities such as students writing anonymous compliments to each other.

“Actually seeing you’re helping kids makes you want to do it more,” Lanning said. “And you get the full experience of teaching and helping.”

Dr. Bowman said she’s seen her students become invested in this project and motivated to do a great job with it.

“They get to experience real life as a part of this,” she said. “There’s a payoff.”

The Campus Compact grant made a big difference in what the students were able to plan. After the presentations, Washington Elementary will get a complete kit with all the activities and necessary resources, while the elementary students involved will get a take-home gift to help them remember the lessons they learned – such as a book relating to the lesson.

“It really allows us to think big,” Dr. Bowman said. “Do something we wouldn’t be able to on a shoestring budget.”

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