Engaging in Critical Conversations
At the beginning of the year we get to create our classroom community. We get to decide how we will learn and grow and play with each other for the rest of the year. This is a new beginning for all. As we start to decide what kind of classroom community we are going to be, we begin by thinking about the importance of the words we use with each other.
The learners will...
- use concrete language to engage in respectful dialogue
- practice self-regulation skills.
- collaborate with peers to create a skit demonstrating social skills.
- read-aloud copy of the book One by Kathryn Otoshi
- “How and Why Characters Change” graphic organizer from Read Write Think
- Home Connection handout below
- copies of each skit from the Scenarios handout below, enough for all students to have a role
Preview the Think - Pair - Share strategy
As a follow-up to this lesson, send home the family connection worksheet (below)
- What are some words we can use to kindly tell someone we disagree with them?
- What are some words we can use to agree with someone and build upon their ideas?
- How can we as a class create a community in which everyone’s ideas are heard and valued?
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Tell the students, “At the beginning of the year we get to create our classroom community. We get to decide how we will learn and grow and play with each other for the rest of the year. This is a new beginning for all of us. As we decide what kind of classroom community we are going to be, let’s begin by thinking about the importance of the words we use with each other.”
Let’s start with the book One by Kathryn Otoshi. Show the cover of the book One to the class. "As you listen to the story, I want you to pay close attention to how the colors talk with one another."
Read the story. Pause on page 6 after reading “Red is hot. Blue is not.” Using the Think-Pair-Share strategy, ask the students how Blue might be feeling right now and what does Red mean when he says he is “hot”?
Continue reading the story. Pause again after reading “Red saw this and got very hot.” The author says Red “got very hot.” What does it mean to be “hot” like this?
Finish the story. Say, “People can change. Characters can change.” With a partner, think about how Blue and Red changed throughout the story. Distribute the character traits graphic organizer (see materials above). Let students choose Red or Blue or assign characters to analyze. Optional, for Kindergarten through 2nd grade, complete graphic organizer as a class.
As a whole class, invite partners to share their ideas on their characters.
Begin by asking students to take a moment to remember how Blue felt at the beginning of the book and what changed when One came into the story. An important message in the story is portrayed in how the community of colors acted toward Red in the end. Ask the students what happened to Red at the end of the story. Be sure in your class discussion that you acknowledge that Red was invited to join them.
Say, “Truly all it takes in one person to make a difference. One person in our family. One person in our school. One person in our community. We know that our actions and words can make people feel good or welcomed or love."
But we also have the power to hurt others even if we don’t really mean to. Thinking of our story “One” and being mindful of how we can make a difference with our words and our actions, today we are going to act out different ways we can make a difference. Each group is going to be given a scenario (or story) to act out how to respond in a way that brings kindness and care into our community. Essentially, in each scenario, I want you to think about how One might act in this situation.
Distribute scenarios to each group. Assign student groups based on the number of roles in each social skills scenario. If needed, add additional students to the scenarios that have multiple friends or students. Give groups time to develop their skit.
Invite the groups to share their skits with the class.
For younger students, over the course of several days read one or two scenarios a day and talk about how you could respond with kindness and in ways that help build up the classroom community.
There are a great deal of wonderful children’s picture books that could be used to build a caring classroom community. Use the comment section to share additional book titles.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.