We're All in This Together

Grades: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Author(s): 
Cathy Wessel

Students reflect on how it feels to be in a new school, then design and create posters to welcome others to a new school or setting. 

Photo Credit: Welcome by Nathan is licensed under CC by 4.0 

Lesson Rating 
0
Duration 
PrintOne class period, plus time for a project
Objectives 

The learners will:

  • discuss how it feels to be 'the new kid' or to have new experiences. 
  • brainstorm ways to support a welcoming school climate. 
  • explore creative ways to show visible welcoming words or phrases. 
Materials 
  • copy of the PowerPoint slide show to facilitate this lesson (below)
  • supplies for service project (posters, paper, art tools, etc.)
Teacher Preparation 

Use the attached PowerPoint to guide classroom discussion.

Reflection 

Reflect verbally or in writing after the service project:

  • What impact did the posters have on your fellow students?
  • How do you feel about your school community after doing this project?

Reflect on ways the posters would have helped the characters in the book we read together.

  • Ask students if they have ever been in a similar situation and how it made them feel?
  • What would have been helpful in their situation? What do they wish would have gone differently? 
Bibliography 

Couric, Katie. The Brand New Kid. Doubleday, 2000.

Instructions

Print
  1. Adapt this one-period lesson plan for any grade level and follow it with a simple and powerful service project. The reflection brings learning and service impact together. 

  2. Anticipatory Set: (5 minutes)

    Show the cover of the book The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric.

    • Talk about what they think is going on and how the child might feel. 
    • Why is it important to be kind to all people with whom you live, work, and play? What difference does it make to people and community?
  3. Part One: (20 minutes)

    Teacher reads aloud the book The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric. Stop and discuss how the different students are acting and feeling. 

    • Talk about ways to help a new student feel comfortable and accepted. Is it important for someone who has been here to welcome the new kid or family to the block? Is it better to wait until the new kid comes to you?
    • Being new isn’t the only time someone might feel different. Sometimes people feel misunderstood and left out for any number of reasons. What is it like to feel you are different than others (different nationality, different abilities, different gender, different clothes, new to a situation)?
    • Discuss the meanings of the words empathy, tolerance and inclusion, and describe what it looks like to show respect and openness for the diversity in our classrooms and community.
    • Write, “All are welcome here” on the board. Tell the students your thoughts about school being a safe place for all. Ask the students if they feel they can say “All are welcome here” about all people in their school and community.
    • Brainstorm ways we can take action to make the words true.
  4. As homework, have each student create an “All About Me” worksheet (see Pinterest) to share their interests and unique traits. The bios will be displayed in the halls to open dialogue. 

  5. Variation for older students: 

    Use the novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio in place of the picture book.

  6. Variation for younger students:

    Role-playing is a great way to get practice with difficult social situations. Assign some of the following roles and act out the situations.

    • Your two best friends tease someone. You know the student doesn’t play with anyone else. You don’t like what your friends are doing.
    • It is the first day of school. You say hello to one person who walks away. You see another student playing with something you like to do.
  7. Part Two: (20 minutes) Introduce the students to using friendly and positive language to open dialogue with people.

    • Show this video with tips for opening communication by treating people how you want to be treated. Discuss examples of things they can say to people they meet.
    • Motivate students by pointing out that communication through welcoming words can be a form of voluntary action for the common good, or philanthropy. They can make a better school culture with their words. 
  8. Civil dialogue includes active listening, openness, and reasonable response. Teach these tips for respectful conversation:
    1.    Treat people with respect – how you want to be treated.
    2.    Listen first and seek to understand, not just wait for your turn.
    3.    Think about what they said; repeat it back in your words.
    4.    It's okay to disagree, but not okay to be mean. Say what you think and feel with respect.
    5.    Accept that we are not the same, but we can understand and learn from others.
    6.    Look at what you have in common; let go of things that aren't important.

    This video is a humorous example of disrespectful communication based on first impressions. 

  9. With these tips (above) on the board as a guide, give the students a safe topic to discuss in pairs, in order to practice these. Safe topics may be around favorite animals, foods, or music taste. 

  10. Service Project

    Students create posters to display around the building to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all people. This service project may be started in class and completed in subsequent days, either with the class or with friends and family.

  11. Procedure: 
    1.    Teacher leads a brainstorm to generate a list of welcoming and inclusive words and phrases.
    2.    Older students can search the Internet for inspiring quotes.
    3.    Students design and create posters with words and pictures to promote an accepting and inclusive school where all are welcome and respected for who they are. 
    4.    Students put posters up on the walls throughout the school where all students can see the posters. Students may also post their messages on social media.

  12. Project Variation: Write an acrostic poem using the letters in the word WELCOME.

    • Write the letters vertically down a page.
    • On the first line of the poem, write a word, phrase, or sentence that begins with W.
    • On the second line of the poem, write a word, phrase, or sentence that begins with E.
    • Continue with the remaining letters, writing a poem that expresses your thoughts about welcoming and including others.

    Students create a short video demonstrating respectful civil dialogue and celebration of differences. Maybe they use humor to show how it is and is not done.

    Create a school newsletter with weekly examples of positive and negative situations students may face and how to respond to build a welcoming school culture. Share examples of safe people and places. Provide information about bullying and the impact of a bystander’s behavior. 

  13. Project Variation: Students create a short video demonstrating respectful civil dialogue and celebration of differences. Maybe they use humor to show how it is and is not done.

     

  14. Project Variation: Create a school newsletter with weekly examples of positive and negative situations students may face and how to respond to build a welcoming school culture. Share examples of safe people and places. Provide information about bullying and the impact of a bystander’s behavior. 

Cross Curriculum 

Discuss what they’d like to do next to continue building relationships and making sure all feel welcome in their community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
      3. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      2. Benchmark HS.1 Utilize the persuasive power of written or oral communication as an instrument of change in the community, nation or the world.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify why people practice philanthropy related to their own self-interest.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.