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No Cussing Clubs Catching On
With Kids



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
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Grades 2-up

News Content

A boy in California was tired of his peers bad language, so he decided to do something about it.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, introduce this two-line rap to students:

Ya wanna hang with us? Don't cuss.
Ask a student or two to read aloud the couplet. Next, read it aloud in unison. Then ask students to share what that simple rhyme means to them.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: realize, offend, encourage, impressed, intelligence, curse, and cussing. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Albert Einstein once said, The true sign of _____ is not knowledge but imagination." (intelligence)
  • After the teams loss, the coach sat the players down to offer some words that might _____ them. (encourage)
  • My mother say she will wash our mouths out with soap if she ever hears us _____. (cussing)
  • Aunt Minnie knew my birthday was this week, but she didnt _____ I was turning 12 years old. (realize)
  • Some nasty witch must have placed a _____ on that old house. (curse)
  • Our teacher was very _____ that we all got 100 percent on our spelling tests. (impressed)
  • I hope my comments didnt _____ you," my brother told his boss. (offend)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story No Cussing Clubs Catching On With Kids.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

    What To Do When
    A Student Swears

    Dr. Ken Shore, Education World Classroom Problem Solver," offers many strategies for students who swear. They include

    Do not ignore a student's profanity. Failing to respond may convey to your students that swearing is acceptable. Confronting the use of profanity also is important because some students swear so often they might not realize that their language was inappropriate [L]et your class know that that kind of language is unacceptable; perhaps saying, "I expect students in this class to talk respectfully to one another." Then return to your lesson.

    Bear in mind that a young student might not realize the inappropriateness of his language. A student may tell you that he thought the words were okay because he heard them used by his parents or friends or on television. If that is the case, you might say to him: "I understand that you may have heard others use these words but they are not okay to use in school." Let him know that the words can hurt others' feelings and cause classmates to avoid him. Make sure he understands which words are objectionable.

    Read more tips from Dr. Shore in his article, The Classroom Problem Solver: The Student Who Swears.

  • My mom and dad always taught me good morals, good values, and not cussing was one of them," McKay Hatch, founder of South Pasadena High School's No Cussing Club, told CNN.
  • Hatch says he understands why kids use bad language. They just want to fit in like everybody else, and they don't know how. They figure if they cuss maybe it's an easy way to do that. I finally told my friends, I don't cuss. And I said, If you want to hang out with me, you don't cuss."
  • Some of Hatchs friends cussed so much they didn't even realize they were doing it. They said they didnt know how to stop. Thats why he started the club. We could help each other by reminding and supporting each other not to cuss," he explained.
  • Hatch first introduced the idea of a No Cussing Club when he was in junior high school. The Club didnt catch on at first, but eventually friends started to come around. The club held its first meeting in June 2007 with 50 members. Now the No Cussing Club has its own Web site and clubs have been spawned in other states and countries; the club boasts a membership of 10,000 and growing.
  • Hatch sees cussing as a quality-of-life issue. There might be less violence if people behave better, he said. You have to start with the little things," he told CNN. If my friends could say no to cussing, how much easier will it be for them to say no to drugs and violence?"
  • Students in the No Cussing Club made a music video to encourage others not to use bad language. Click here to watch or share that video.
  • The purpose of No Cussing Week is to remind people to be more civil, says Michael Cacciotti, mayor of South Pasadena. The special week will be recognized this year and in years to come, he added. South Pasadena is located eight miles north of Los Angeles.
  • Cussing is an epidemic in some schools. In Hartford, Connecticut, police officers in two of the citys high schools were authorized two years ago to fine students $103 if they were caught cursing. The students were ticketed for creating a public disturbance, a charge that required them to appear in Superior Court. If students couldn't afford the fine, their parents would have to pay it. Soon after the fine was initiated, teachers and principals said that the number of fights in the school had decreased, classrooms were calmer, and there was less cursing in the corridors.
  • Some teacher share a simple rule about cursing the classroom: If you cant say it in church, you cant say it in our classroom."

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson. Now that students have seen the rhyme used in the context of the News for Kids article, ask them to reflect again on its meaning.

    You might follow-up that discussion by asking some of these questions:

    Recalling Detail

  • What did McKay Hatch do to help combat cussing in his school? (He started a No Cussing Club.)
  • Why did Hatch start the No Cussing Club? (Accept reasoned responses. For example, he got tired of hearing friends use bad language, he wanted to help kids stop using bad language)
  • What did the mayor of South Pasadena do when he heard about the No Cussing Club? (He introduced a No Cussing Week in the city.)

    Think About the News
    The article tells us that the No Cussing Clubs motto is I will leave people better than I found them. Ask students: What does that motto mean to you?

    Next, discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. The question introduces the idea that some people think cussing is no big deal. It is just words," they say. Trying to stop others from cussing is akin to stepping on their rights to freedom of speech" Ask students to respond to those ideas. Do they agree or disagree? Give students time to share their thoughts on both sides of the issue. Write down their thoughts. In order to capture McKay Hatchs perspective on these questions, you might share his words (from the No Cussing Club Web site):

    While we respect these opinions we also respectfully disagree. First of all, we are not pursuing a law where people are arrested or fined because they said a bad word when they smashed their toe. Second, we disagree with the philosophical letters we have received that say words are meaningless sounds created by humans. In the real world, everyone knows which words and expressions to avoid at a job interview or first date, or when speaking to their boss or a police officer. Our goal is to raise awareness for people to consider their language in public and to speak more politely."
    If you desire additional support, see the long list of ideas on the Whats Wrong With Swearing? page of the Web site known as Cuss Control Academy.


    You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this thinking question. If you use this strategy

    First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.

    Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.

    Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.

    Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about the Think About the News question.
    Follow-Up Activities

    Reading aloud a lesson learned. Share with students the book Elbert's Bad Word. In this story, Elbert uses a bad word at an elegant garden party. The bad word, in the shape of a long-tailed furry monster, will not go away until a wizard-gardener cooks up some really delicious, super-long words that everyone at the party applauds. As one customer review of the book reveals: It is a lively, imaginative book that is fun to read aloud. I just read it today to a group of second graders and they loved it so much they all clapped at the end. You will captivate your audience and have opportunities to discuss a wonderful alternative to profanity that is logical."

    Citizenship the harm that words can do. You might use this powerful activity, Those Tear-Me-Apart, Put-Me-Back-Together, Never-Be-the-Same-Again Blues, as a way to illustrate the power that words have to harm -- and heal. After you complete the activity, hang the human-figure outline in the classroom as a reminder to students of the power of their words.

    Language arts writing like Shakespeare. When William Shakespeare wanted to put someone in his place, he did it with words that were powerful, creative, and smart. While most kids cannot naturally match the power of Shakespeares olde English language, they can if they use the Shakespeare Insult Kit. Have students mimic Shakespeare by selecting a few insults and weaving them into a conversation written in his style. Note: While this activity is intended to stretch students creatively, the expressions students will use in this activity are, by their nature, putdowns; some teachers might equate them to bullying and find them inappropriate for classroom use.

    Language arts writing (alternative). Have students write their own rhymes or raps on a stop the cussing" theme.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World