Over the first 7 weeks of school the Grade 2 students inquired into the central idea, "We can get along with other people by learning about their thinking and feelings, and communicating our own."
We began by challenging the First and Second grade students to create the longest paper chain possible, with only limited supplies (one piece of paper, a short length of tape and a pair of scissors) and they had to work in mixed groups of 4. Students were given a simple set of guidelines to follow, and were told that the teachers were watching them to observe their social, communication and self-management skills. This gave us a good idea of where the students were at with the various skills and helped us find out what the students need to work on. The students also reflected on the activity by watching videos of how they interacted with the other members of their groups, and discussed what positive and negative interactions they saw taking place.
All of the activities throughout the unit related to one of the following lines of inquiry:
- how I treat others and how they treat me (perspective)
- what I do may change how people feel (causation)
- strategies to solve problems help us learn about each other (reflection)
To help the students 'Tune in' to the unit, we read, or listened to several stories such as, "Ramon Learns How to Resolve a Conflict" , "Billy Bully" and "The Interrupting Chicken." As these stories dealt with many of the day to day conflicts that the children might have at school (someone not sharing a toy, making mean comments, or skipping in line - just to mention a few) they were a great introduction to the first line of inquiry as it allowed them to think objectively about the problems and solutions, and not get emotional about it as they would if they were the one facing the problem. Students spent a few lessons role-playing and working out several possible strategies to deal with the conflict situation and presented these to their classmates.
To examine exactly how "What I say or do may change how people feel" students drew their self portrait on a page and then wrote things that they like about other members of the class, as well as things they'd like their classmates to improve on or change on post-it notes and then placed them on each others' self-portrait page.
Students also worked on other group activities such as compiling a list of traits that their "Dream/ Perfect Friend" would have and those that a "Nightmare Friend " would have.
The largest amount of time this unit was spent on the third line of inquiry as we examined different strategies to help resolve problems or conflicts. As the year began with almost a daily whiny chant of "Mr. Brabant....!" I knew that this one line of inquiry was incredibly important to cover, and to empower the students with the ability to resolve their conflict on their own! Luckily, Kelso's choices helped with that as it provided the students with a number of options to choose from when dealing with a problem and they had a lot of fun singing along and dancing to the song for our assembly.
To demonstrate their understanding at the end of the unit, students were given several options for creating a story that demonstrated a conflict situation that could be resolved in both a negative and positive ways. Some of the choices were to create a puppet show, to act it out as a role-play, to make a paper book, or to make a digital book using Storyjumper.com. They also had the option to work alone, or together with a partner. Most did a good job of completing the task well, and you can see some of their online stories via the links below.
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