Bridging our Thinking

Bullying Venn Diagram

“Bullying is like a bird in a cage because there is nothing the bird can really do to free itself, except wait until the cage is opened to fly out.” – Olivia, Grade 6 

Exploring the topic of bullying challenges my Grade 6 Health class to reflect on past, or present, experiences that affect their safety, feelings and how they interact with each other. The power to choose becomes of the utmost importance when deciding what actions to take…

Making our thinking visible when sharing and expressing our feelings about challenging situations teaches us to respect and appreciate multiple perspectives and make connections to other people’s thinking. The 3-2-1 Bridge thinking routine empowers students to do just that – uncover not only their own understandings about a topic, but also those of others.

Building Bridges

Bridges are built when new information is gained. They connect new ideas to prior understanding of a concept that has been explored over time.

Take a look at the initial 3-2-1 Bridges of my Grade 6 Health class. I wonder, what common themes tie their current understanding of bullying together?

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Connecting new ideas to prior understanding

At the end of our discussion on bullying, students were asked to revisit their group’s initial 3-2-1 Bridges. Below are examples of new comparisons students created on their own. I wonder, what deeper connections could they make?

“Bullying is like a maze, the only way out is if you keep trying and don’t give up. In a maze, it may seem impossible to get out, but if you keep trying, even after going into 3 dead-ends, you just keep trying until you find the way out. If you are a victim of bullying, it seems like there is no right way to get out of the situation, but if you don’t give up, you will make it.” – Tim

“Bullying is like a big foot stomping on a flower, it crumbles to the floor hurt but when it fights back it grows.” – Arthur

“Bullying is like you are drowning, the longer you stay in it, the more it starts to hurt and the more problems you will have.” – Tarik

“Bullying is like a bird in a cage because there is nothing the bird can really do to free itself, except wait till the cage is opened to fly out.” – Olivia

“Bullying is like a fire, you can choose to put it out, or let it get out of control.” – Caroline

“Bullying is like being outside during a hurricane, because you have nowhere to hide or escape because the hurricane is destroying everything.” – Valeria

“Bullies are like balloons, when victims stand up to them, the balloons pop.” – Maria

Showing growth in understanding

The students’ new connections demonstrate the complexity of a bullying situation – the imbalance of power, the feelings of helplessness and the physical and emotional stress it places on the victim. However, through perseverance, patience and the use of effective strategies to resolve conflict, hope will always be within reach.


In what ways could you use this thinking routine to shape the culture of thinking in your classroom?

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