6, 7, 8

The learners will investigate the meaning of respect, especially as it relates to respecting members of diverse groups. Students will analyze the dynamics of group formation and describe how inclusion and exclusion from groups can result in conflict and disrespect.

PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • express their preference on different issues by standing on the right or left side of the room.
  • identify and describe how inclusive and exclusive groups can promote respect and/or disrespect.
  • In advance, brainstorm a list of opposite pairs—opposing teams, groups, and product preferences—that will be meaningful to this group of students (local or national sports teams or colleges, Coke vs. Pepsi, radio stations, rock vs. country music, vanilla ice cream vs. chocolate ice cream, gender, hair color, makes of cars, clothing labels, etc.) Option: write these opposites on cards in a font large enough to be read from across the room.
  • Copy of Handout One: Opposite Pairs (This handout provides an optional list of opposites moving from most trivial to more divisive.)


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the question, "Besides being learners at this school, is there any other group or organization to which you all belong?” (In most cases, there will not be any other that all the learners will share in common.) Say, “We all belong to many formal and informal groups, and today we’re going to look at just a few of those groups.”

  2. Tell the students that you are going to ask them to express their preferences on a variety of issues. They will have to get up and move to one side of the room or the other to show their preferences or loyalty to various groups.

  3. Name a pair of opposites and indicate where each group should stand (stand on the left if you prefer summer; stand on the right if you prefer winter), or ask two students to hold “opposite” cards or symbols. Have the learners stand with the group they prefer or the group that describes them. Use the optional list on Handout One: Opposite Pairs as a guide for opposites for this activity.

  4. Repeat this with different opposite pairs. The students will move back and forth as they indicate which groups they prefer. This will move pretty quickly and with high energy. Allow them to talk and react to the movement and preferences.

  5. After the activity, discuss their experiences. Tell students that belonging to groups helps people understand who they are and how they relate to others, and gain self-respect. Discuss their observations, feelings, and reactions as they chose groups. Discuss whether students ever felt respect or embarrassment for their choices. Did they feel accepted or left out or excluded? Write down any words that describe the exclusionary techniques used in this activity (don’t fit here; the best; better, go, stay, stereotype, alienated, bias, favoritism, bullying, arm around an insider, etc.).

Cross Curriculum 

This character education mini-lesson is not intended to be a service learning lesson or to meet the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. The character education units will be most effective when taught in conjunction with a student-designed service project that provides a real world setting in which students can develop and practice good character and leadership skills. For ideas and suggestions for organizing service events go to

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    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 MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and give examples of stewardship in cultural traditions around the world.