K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Learning outcomes

The students will learn that we all face tough decisions every day. How we choose to respond to these events reveals who we are and where we are in our character/moral development. This activity also helps young people to deal with peer pressure, problem solving, and to work within a small group.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

20 minutes

Materials/resources

Students will need paper and pencil. Teacher will need situational events that will force the group to discuss acceptable solutions for character development. Tough Decisions: 50 Activities in Values and Character Education written by Ann Bourman is an excellent resource for this activity. Teacher and students together can create situations close at hand for a more personal learning experience.

Pre-activities

Students should know the definition of and have an understanding of “character.” They should be familiar with role-play. Teacher should precede this lesson with a discussion about life events that may cause us to struggle to make the right decisions.

Activities

  1. Begin the lesson by reading the following scenario:
    How Can Jenny Get Nicer Clothes for School?

    Jenny is poor and wears worn-out clothes to school. Some students make fun of her. She feels so hurt by their remarks that she often stays home from school to avoid them.

    One morning a teacher quietly takes her aside and asks her why she is absent from school so often. The teacher thinks she knows what the problem is. She is friendly and kind to Jenny. Jenny finally has a chance to tell someone the problem that has been bothering her. Perhaps there is a way to get help. On the other hand, she does not want to embarrass her family.

    Should she tell the teacher the truth about her absences and her shabby clothes? Or should she make up some sort of excuse?

  2. Give the students a few seconds to process the information. Then clarify any questions to make sure everyone understands this situation.
  3. Thoughts and Questions: (Teacher’s choice for oral discussion or requesting students to write answer on paper.)
    • Question 1: Is it right for the teacher to ask Jenny about something she suspects is a family problem? What value is the teacher showing if she does that?
    • Question 2: Should Jenny try to solve her problem by herself? If she does, what value will she be demonstrating? Or will she just be stubborn?
    • Question 3: Should people always try to solve problems all by themselves?
    • Question 4: Should people sometimes try to solve problems with help from others? When? What values are shown when you help your friends with their problems?
    • Question 5: What services does your own school have that might help a student like Jenny?
  4. Role-playing: There are five characters needed for this scenario:
    • Jenny
    • the teacher who questions Jenny
    • one of Jenny’s friends
    • a mean student that makes fun of Jenny
    • one of Jenny’s parents

    Select 5 students to role-play. The group can be given class time to practice or this can be impromptu.

  5. Have the students write a letter to Jenny. Encourage them to put themselves in Jenny’s place. What would you tell Jenny? What kind of help would you offer? How would you be a friend to Jenny? The letter can be handwritten or students can use a word processing application.
  6. Ask the class if anyone has ideas for another topic to be discussed during another session on character development.

Assessment

The teacher looks for participation and what solutions the students suggest for this problem. The teacher needs to review the students answers in the thoughts and questions section in the written response (letter).

Supplemental information

Bourman, Ann. Tough Decisions: 50 Activities in Values and Character Education. J Weston Walch, Publisher, Portland, Maine, 1990.

Comments

The goal was to use objectives from the Standard Course of Study for students in Exceptional Children departments. The goal was also to encourage students to learn acceptable outcomes for social problems they might encounter at school, home, and in the community.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Early Independent

        • EI.C.1 Use creative strategies to make decisions and solve problems. EI.C.1.1 Analyze solution strategies in terms of assumptions and biases. EI.C.1.2 Create new and different ways of achieving long-term goals. EI.C.1.3 Evaluate the effectiveness of creative...
      • Progressing

        • P.C.1 Use creative strategies to make decisions and solve problems. P.C.1.1 Understand how to make adjustments to strategies that are not effective in making decisions or solving problems. P.C.1.2 Analyze strategies you have used in the past to determine the...

    • Healthful Living (2010)
      • Grade 6

        • 6.ICR.1 Understand healthy and effective interpersonal communication and relationships. 6.ICR.1.1 Classify behaviors as either productive or counterproductive to group functioning 6.ICR.1.2 Implement verbal and non-verbal communication skills that are effective...
      • Grade 7

        • 7.ICR.1 Understand healthy and effective interpersonal communication and relationships. 7.ICR.1.1 Contrast characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships. 7.ICR.1.2 Predict short-term and long-term consequences of violence to perpetrators, victims,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Guidance (2001)

Grade 6–8

  • Goal 7: Acquire the attitudes, knowledge, and interpersonal skills to help understand and respect self and others.
    • Objective 7.14: Use effective communication skills.
    • Objective 7.15: Understand that communication involves speaking, listening, and nonverbal behavior.
  • Goal 8: Make decisions, set goals, and take appropriate action to achieve goals.
    • Objective 8.02: Debate alternative solutions to a problem.

Healthful Living Education (2006)

Grade 6

  • Goal 3: The learner will develop healthy and effective interpersonal communication and relationship skills.
    • Objective 3.02: Demonstrate effective verbal and non verbal communication skills.
    • Objective 3.03: Demonstrate ways to communicate care, consideration, and respect of self and others.

Grade 7

  • Goal 3: The learner will develop healthy and effective interpersonal communication and relationship skills.
    • Objective 3.04: Define tolerance and advocate to others the importance of tolerance in a healthy society respectful of differences and diversity.