We Can Work It Out

6, 7, 8

Often conflicts arise between different groups in society and lead to conflict. This lesson will look at ways to resolve such issues and respect the rights of others to be heard.

PrintFive or Six Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

Th learner will:

  • use narrative reading strategies to construct meaning from literature.
  • reflect on the theme of "separation" in literature and describe how it applies to the reader’s personal life.
  • apply conflict resolution techniques exhibited in literature to real life situations.
  • recognize the importance of all voices being heard in the community.
  • An appropriate grade level book with the unit theme "Us vs. Them" (The Outsiders, The Misfits or The Revealers)
  • A small "gift" per learner (optional)
  • Student copies of "We Can Work It Out" Lyrics 
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Learners will interview their family members asking them if there was ever a time in their lives when they felt separated or isolated from others. They will also ask their parents how they resolved their issue of separation. Learners will report back to the class either orally or in written form.

  • Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Puffin Books, 1997. ISBN: 014038572X
  • Howe, James. The Misfits. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 2003. ISBN: 0689839561
  • Lennon, John and Paul McCarthy. We Can Work It Out. Found at "Sing365.com". https://www.lyrics007.com/lyrics/paul-mccartney-we-can-work-it-out/TlRVM05qSXk=
  • Wilhelm, Doug. The Revealers. New York: Farrar, Straus Giroux, 2003. ISBN: 037436 2556


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Begin reading the selected book aloud to the class a few days before starting the unit. Then at the beginning of a class period separate the learners into two groups. Give special privileges and/or gifts to one of the groups, then ask the learners to write a few paragraphs describing how it felt to be included or not included in the special priveleges/gifts. Ask volunteers to read their responses to the class.

  2. Over the next four or five sessions, read the book aloud to the class, or ask the learners to read the book themselves. Use narrative reading strategies to construct meaning from the text.

  3. Teacher Note: If each learner has a copy of the book, some of the reading may be assigned as homework. If the teacher is familiar with Literature Circles, this lesson lends itself well to that format.

  4. At the end of each session, assign the learners to write their thoughts about the day’s reading in a separate journal to be turned in to the teacher at the completion of the book. Ask them to reflect on the theme of the text and decide how it applies to the reader’s personal life. Are there different types of communities in their environment? Are there specific "pro-social" behaviors that are reflected in those community groups? Is it important that all voices be heard in the community and be respected?

  5. At the completion of the reading, conduct a class discussion on the effectiveness of the way the two groups resolved their conflicts. In what ways may the learners apply the conflict resolution techniques in the text to real life situations?

  6. Distribute "We Can Work It Out" Lyrics. Play the song or read the song lyrics and describe what the Beatles were trying to say. Can the learners see situations in their own lives which might have worked out differently if the words to this tune were brought to mind?


After the book has been completed, assign the learners to make a final journal entry detailing how the book related to the theme "Us vs. Them" and describe what lesson it provides for communities. The journal will be turned in to the teacher for assessment.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. 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. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify different types of communities with which an individual might identify.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.9 Identify pro-social behavior in different cultures and traditions.