Resolving Conflict with Respect - Elem

K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

In civil society, different people come together to form community. While differences may cause conflict, for the sake of the common good, we practice empathy and respect for others. Students respond to scenarios of differences in opinion. They learn to communicate respectfully with someone of a different opinion and to seek common ground or compromise. The lesson concludes with a service project in which the students create posters to teach these methods to the school or community. 

Photo Credit: 2013 Human Rights Training Conference by AFGE is licensed under CC by 4.0 

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne class period, plus time for a project

The learners will...

  • explore the challenge of respecting opinions held by others with whom they may disagree.
  • brainstorm and practice steps for successful conflict resolution.
  • create posters for the school or community to teach conflict resolution skills.
  • posters and supplies for the service project
  • copy of the PowerPoint slide show to facilitate this lesson (below)
Teacher Preparation 

Use the attached PowerPoint to guide classroom discussion.


Follow the project with a brief reflection.

In a written response address two or more points listed below:

  • How did your thinking change related to recognizing and resolving conflict?
  • Give a personal example of a disagreement and the steps you used / could have used to bring both sides together.
  • Explain the role of an outside mediator and when it is necessary.

Follow-up: Discuss what they’d like to do next to continue impacting their community.


For more background on conflict resolution skills for youth, take a look at a short six-part series published by Michigan State University Extension


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

  2. Anticipatory Set: (8 minutes)

    Put up the following quotation: "Different people have different opinions, and it's okay to respect all of them." Juan Pablo Galavis (a retired professional soccer player)
    Ask students to think about a time when they had a difference with one of their friends or family. Try to get students to share, but have an example or two to share with them. Discuss: 
    • What was it about?
    • How did you resolve it?
    • How did you feel afterward?
    Discuss why respecting and listening to different opinions is important in a diverse world. Share times when a first impression of a situation was wrong. 
  3. Part One: (12 minutes)

    Display one or both of the following scenarios, and have small groups brainstorm answers to the questions below.


    1. At recess time a group of fifth-grade boys and girls head out to the playground. They join a group from another class that is gathering to play a team game. They are in the process of dividing into teams, and one of the boys who is selected as captain is forming a team with NO girls on it. 
    2. The science club of a diverse high school is setting up a team to compete with other schools. Mike, the captain of the team, is allowed to pick the 4-member team, subject to approval of the principal. Mike, a white male, announces that he will pick the science club members with the three highest scores on the PSAT to join him on the team. This year, those three happen to be white male students.  

    In both of these scenarios, those not chosen were unhappy and felt that the process was not fair.

  4.  In your small group discuss the following questions:

    1. In what ways was the captain of the team being fair, and what ways was he unfair?
    2. If you were present, what could you have contributed to a more fair outcome?
    3. What is the proper process for a fair outcome?
    4. How does the Galavis quote help with the discussion and resolution?
  5. Part Two: (20 minutes)

    Bring the class back together to share ideas, and create a classroom master plan for effective conflict resolution.

  6. The students should brainstorm their own effective method, but here are some ideas:

    1. State your point of view
    2. Ask the other person to explain their position and listen carefully 
    3. Ask clarifying questions and state their point of view in your words
    4. Brainstorm solutions that fit both points of view--find common ground
    5. Agree on next steps, including seeking someone else to help with the resolution
    6. Accept that resolution likely will include compromise by all
  7. Service Project

    This service project may be started in class and completed in subsequent days, either with the class or with friends and family.

    Project Overview:

    Create a poster to be displayed around the school or in the community depicting the conflict resolution guidelines.


    1. Students have access to poster board, markers, pictures/illustrations to create their groups’ poster. Note: A poster is one suggestion; your students may communicate their methods through a demonstration, social media, video, or other means. 
    2. Be sure the steps on the posters reflect the students’ path to effectively listen to others, strategize options for solving the conflict, and reach mutual understanding.
    3. Share, then display the posters throughout the school setting.

    A longer-term and more comprehensive service project would be to explore whether a peer mediation program should be implemented at your school.  Here are sites for basic information: 

    Pax United  

    ASCD, Teaching Students to Be Peer Mediators

Cross Curriculum 

Read about the service-learning project called Malcolm X House by Michigan students who were taught using this Resolving Conflict with Respect lesson to guide student learning and action.

Ms. Hawke is a high school teacher from Michigan who says service and philanthropy are important because "they enable [students] to have pride in the ways they can contribute to their community." 


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
  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. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of 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 E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
      3. Benchmark E.5 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibility.
    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 E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
      4. Benchmark HS.1 Utilize the persuasive power of written or oral communication as an instrument of change in the community, nation or the world.
      5. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.