What Can We Do?

6, 7, 8

This lesson challenges students to think of their personal responsibility to act when they observe unfair treatment. They respond to a scenario as a whole class and then work in small groups to analyze personal responses to a specific situation of their choosing.

PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • respond to a familiar scenario of unfair treatment on a school campus.
  • collaborate on writing an action plan for responding to a specific unfair situation.

Copy of Handout One: What Can We Do? for each group


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Read this scenario: Several students at a K-8 school are still on the campus after school. A group of seventh-grade girls leaves the gym after basketball practice and approaches one fifth-grade boy who is playing basketball outside. Two of the girls start teasing him. Some other fourth-grade and fifth-grade students see this and want to help the boy, but they are afraid that the girls will start picking on them. One seventh grader who is pushing her little brother on a swing recognizes some of the girls. She doesn't want to be teased in school the next day, so she tries to look invisible behind her brother even though she thinks they are acting mean. The girls continue to harass the boy until one of the girls says she has to go. They walk away, and everyone in the area relaxes.

    Teacher: Whose responsibility was it to do something in this case? Can anything be done after the girls are gone?

  2. Have the students turn to a neighbor and tell whether they have seen or been part of a similar situation. Allow time for discussion. Caution students not to mention specific names of other students during the discussion.

  3. Teacher: Answer silently for yourself how you think you would respond if you saw someone being bullied. (Allow time for thinking.) Do you remember the example at the beginning of the first lesson (Stephanie and the school counselor)? What could another student do to help Stephanie make the right choice about shop class? (Allow think time.) What if you heard about unfair laws in another country? Please think about how you can respond to unfair treatment.

  4. Move the learners into groups of three to five students. Give each group a copy of Handout One: What Can We Do? They work in groups to complete the activity, focusing on creative ways to respond when something isn't fair.

  5. Discuss whose responsibility it is to change unfair rules, laws, and practices.

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 MS.2 Discuss why some animals and humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.