Sunday, December 28, 2008

Desert Survival

If you liked the moon survival activity, try this one!

It is 1:00 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon at the end of May. You and your teammates have just finished a two-day training in Casablanca, Morocco. You are all on board a chartered, twin-engine plane that is destined for Dakhla, Morocco, a small town on the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1000 miles from Casablanca. At the beginning of the flight the Captain came on the overhead speaker and invited you to sit back and relax during the two-hour flight. The first fifty minutes of the flight were fine. Around this time the pilot comes back on the speaker to let you know that you are currently flying over the Sahara Desert and that weather reports showed a temperature high of 115 degrees. Approximately one hour and ten minutes into the flight, you hear a loud blast and the plane nosedives. Within minutes you realize that the cabin is losing pressure. When you look outside the windows, you notice that is dessert below is growing larger as the plane rapidly descends toward the ground. You notice that the only things you can see out of your window are some large boulders and miles and miles of sand. The pilot comes on once again to let you know that the plane has blown an engine and is therefore, indisputably, going to crash and so all on board should prepare for a turbulent, possibly fatal, crash landing. Within minutes the planes crashes and smoke and flames fill the cabin. All surviving passengers and crewmembers scramble to exit the plane before it explodes. Seven minutes after the crash, the plane explodes in a fiery ball that reduces it to rubble. With the exception of the airplane’s captain and one crewmember, you, your teammates, one flight crewmember, and the co-captain have all survived the crash. Now you must decide how to work together to survive the desert climate and terrain, get help, and hopefully make it out of the desert alive. On your way of the plane, in the few minutes before it exploded, you and your teammates were able to salvage the items in the list below. It is May and you and your teammates are dressed in business casual for the hot summer months of Africa. With only the clothes on your back and the items pulled from the wreckage, how will you survive?

Rank the items below in order of importance and develop a game plan to help you get out alive.

1 Book of matches

3 Airplane blankets

20 Feet of nylon rope

1 Sewing kit

2 50 kg Tanks of oxygen

20 Cans of soda

1 Life raft

1 Bottle opener

1 Magnetic compass

1 Single-blade pocketknife

15 Gallons of water

3 Signal flares

1 First aid kit

1 Snakebite kit

25 Mini bags of pretzels

55 Mini bags of peanuts

1 Safety razor blade

4 Airplane pillows

Survival on the Moon

The year is 2040. You are a member of a space crew that was to rendezvous with the mother ship on the lighted surface of the moon. You experienced mechanical difficulties and your ship was forced to land about 200 miles from the point you were to be. During re-entry and landing, much of the equipment on your ship was damaged. Your survival depends on you reaching the mother ship. You will need to survey what is left that is useable and determine the most critical undamaged items that you will take for the 200 mile trip.

Your task is to look over the list below which contains the useable, undamaged items left on your ship, and rank them in order of their importance for your crew. Remember you need to rank each item in terms of its value in allowing you to reach the mother ship. Copy the list below or print out a copy. Place the number 1 by the most important item and keep going to number 15 which will be the least important. Be ready to explain why you have given each item the rank it received. Use your knowledge of the Moon and its environment to help you make your decisions. When you are done you can check how you did against the rankings given this same list by NASA. If you are doing this activity in your classroom, compare your rankings with other groups or individuals and hear their reasons for their rankings before checking the NASA list.

How close did you come? Were your top 5 most important and bottom 5 least important items (regardless of ranking numbers) the same ones as others in your class? Or the same as on the NASA list? (See link below.)

___ Box of matches

___ Food concentrate

___ 50 feet of nylon rope

___ Parachute silk

___ Portable heating unit

___ Two .45 calibre pistols

___ One case dehydrated milk

___ Two 100-pound tanks of oxygen

___ Stellar map (of moon's surface)

___ Life raft

___ Magnetic compass

___ 5 gallons of water

___ Signal flares

___ First aid kit containing injection needle

___ Solar-powered FM receiver-transmitter

NASA's Ranking will help you see how well you did.

Voice Finder

What's your niche, your groove, your life's purpose? This is called "finding your voice".

What am I really good at? ....this is talent
What do I love doing? ....this is passion
What does the world need that I can get paid to do? ....this is need
What do I feel I should do? ....this is conscience

Sean Covey created a voice finder map that students can use to reflect on what they want out of life. Click here to print it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sticky Note Gifts

Give every student enough sticky notes for every person in the group including the teacher. Tell them that they have all the money in the world and are going to give each person a gift. They are to write the names of the people on each sticky note and write what they would give them. Once everyone is done, call each student up one at a time and have the other students read their gift out loud and hand them a sticky note. Make sure to discuss the importance of choosing something that would be meaningful to the gift recipient.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Girl Effect

Here are some facts about the girl effect.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Andrew's Season

Andrew Lawson is a popular senior at Norwell High School who plays varsity basketball. He also has Down syndrome. Watch this clip about how his high school friends support him and look past his differences.

Just the Way you Are

Watch Billy Joel sing "Just the Way You Are". Follow along with the lyrics Have a discussion about why it is important to not change for others. For some more fun, have the kids sing along karaoke style with this background music. Have you ever tried to change something about yourself because you thought you'd be accepted more? What does it mean to be true to yourself?

The Candy Game

  • Have participants sit in a circle
  • Give each person 10 pieces of candy
  • Go around the circle and have each person name one thing in their life that they think is special or some talent or ability that they possess
  • As each person says what they want to say, the other members of the group throw that person a piece of candy if that is not something that they have in common with that individual
Example: I say, "I can play the piano." If you can also play the piano you do nothing, but if you cannot play the piano you throw me a piece of candy
  • You should try to encourage the members of the group who are having a hard time thinking of something, as there should hopefully always be something to find in a persons life that is good
  • The game should hopefully end at a point where all members have the same amounts of candy again or at least where everyone has some so that no one feels left out - this up to the leader

Scrapbook Yourself

Your personal "celebratory scrapbook" and place to honor yourself.
Develop a scrapbook that celebrates you and the wonderful person you are. Include pictures of yourself at different ages, writings you enjoy, mementos of things you have done and places you have been, cards you have received, etc. Or set up a place in your home that celebrates "you." It could be on a bureau, shelf, or table. Decorate the space with objects that remind you of the special person you are. If you don't have a private space that you can leave set up, put the objects in a special bag, box, or your purse and set them up in the space whenever you do this work. Take them out and look at them whenever you need to bolster your self-esteem.

Gift from the Heart


Each member of the group chooses an imaginary gift to give to each person in the group. Each gift is drawn or described on a piece of paper to be given to the recipient. The gifts should be thought out so they represent the individuals who receive the gifts.

The gifts may be deep and thoughtful such as “courage to face life’s difficulties”, for someone who has shared many deep problems with the group. Or the gifts may simply be something the receiver would enjoy, such as “a season ski pass to go skiing any time you want,” for someone who enjoys skiing.

Once everyone has completed their gifts, let one person at a time give out his/her gifts to the others. When giving the gifts, the giver should explain what the gift is and why she or he chose to give that particular gift to the individual.

Discussion Topics

1. How did you decide what gifts to give?

2. What did you think about the gifts you got?

3. Do you think there was a good match between the people and the gifts they received?

Eye Spy Game

Click the picture above to play a mind habits booster game.

Grow Your Chi Game

Click the Chi button above to grow your chi. What's chi?
Noun1.chichi - the circulating life energy that in Chinese philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things; in traditional Chinese medicine the balance of negative and positive forms in the body is believed to be essential for good health

Wham! Self Esteem Game

Click the hammer above to play the wham! self esteem game.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rules for Being Human

Cherie Carter-Scott wrote the book, If Life is a Game, These are the Rules. Included are these 14 rules seen on the video. As a group, write your own rules for being human.

Snowflakes are Unique

Each snowflake is unique, just like each person is unique. Have students cut out snowflakes and write what is unique about them in light blue pencil. Hang them all around the classroom to celebrate unique characteristics!

Talent Links

Begin by asking students, "Who has something that they really do well?" After a brief discussion about some of those talents, pass out paper and ask the students to write down 5 things that they do well.

Once all students have completed their list, ask for volunteers to share their lists.

Allow students to come up and select 5 different colored paper strips. Using markers, have the students write one talent on each strip of paper.

Demonstrate how to create a paper chain with their strips; linking their 5 talents together. As students begin to complete their mini chains, use extra strips of paper to link the mini chains together to create one long class chain. Have students stand and hold the ever-growing chain as you link it together, until all are linked.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bean Esteem

1. Give each student 5 dried beans. Ask them to examine the beans and choose the "Best" bean. Don't give them any other information.

2. After 5 minutes, have some or all of the students to explain how they chose their "Best" bean.

3. Relate the beans to people by asking the following questions:
a. Are all of your beans the same on the inside?
b. Are all people the same on the inside?
c. When we eat the beans, do all the beans taste the same?
d. Imagine you are hanging off a cliff and are desperately clinging to a few blades of grass that are pulling loose from the ground. Suddenly, a hand appears from above to rescue you. Would you wait to see what that person looked like before you reached for help?
e. Is one bean better than another?
f. Is one person better than another?


Eleanor Roosevelt said "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission." Have a group discussion about this quote. What does it mean? How true is it? Can you think of cases where it might not be true? In what kinds of situations would this quote be most useful to remember?

Advertising 101

Have everybody in the class bring in one or two advertisements aimed at teenagers. These can be cut out of magazines or taped off of TV. Have a class discussion to evaluate the ads by asking the following questions: How is this ad attempting to appeal to me? What assumptions does this ad make about me? How is this ad intended to make me feel about myself? Is there anything about this ad that's intended to make me feel is ad intended to make me feel better about myself, or bad about myself? In what way is this ad attempting to appeal to me? Would I be most vulnerable to this ad if I had high self esteem, or low self-esteem?

Self Esteem Bucket

Self-esteem has been compared to a bucket of water. It starts out full when we're born, but whenever we develop negative beliefs about ourselves, it's like poking little holes in that bucket and our self-esteem drips out.* Have the group brainstorm a list of things we do or say to ourselves or to others that pokes holes in the self-esteem bucket. Put this list on the wall to serve as a constant reminder.


Have each student place his thumb on an inkpad and make a thumb print. Use this site to identify their type of print. Discuss the fact that each fingerprint is special because it is totally unique. Then each student creates an animal using the thumbprint as the body.

Designing Self Collages

Using pictures, words, or symbols clipped from magazines that represent things they enjoy doing or own, places they've been, people they admire, or careers they desire, students create a collage. They place their names on the back, and you can post the collages around the room. Have the other students guess which collage belongs to whom and state why they made that guess.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

current events discussions provides a different daily news article with a series of discussion questions every weekday throughout the school year. These questions are designed to encourage critical thinking, challenge assumptions, and provoke lively classroom discussion.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Messages

"I" messages are a key part of respectful, assertive speaking that allow us to express negative feelings without attacking or blaming. They help to facilitate constructive dialogue and problem-solving.

Here is an example of the difference between a "you" message and an "I" message:

  • "You" message:
    "You selfish jerk! You think the TV belongs to you. Well, it's my turn now."

  • "I" message:
    "I feel annoyed when you switch the channel without asking. I want to be able to watch my show."
In Academic Controversy, "I" messages can help participants disagree respectfully:

  • "You" message:
    "That is just totally untrue and you are wrong."

  • "I" messages:
    "I don't agree with that because . . .", "To me the evidence says . . .", "My view is . . ."
Give each student a copy of Student Handout B. Read the handout with students, making sure they understand how an "I" message removes attacking language. Then, allow them to practice "I" messages, using scenarios such as the ones presented below.

Have students practice constructing "I" messages in response to the following situations. For further practice, have them think of other situations and then respond with "I" messages.

  • Byron's brother Sam borrowed Byron's favorite shirt without asking. What could Byron say to Sam using an "I" message?

  • Carla saw Heather with her arm around Carla's boyfriend Greg. What could Carla say to Heather using an "I" message? To Greg?

  • Jessica heard that Anna is spreading a rumor that Jessica was one of the kids who trashed Todd's locker. What could Jessica say to Anna using an "I" message?

  • Will wants to copy Mike's homework. Mike wants to say no, even though he let Will copy once before. What can Mike say to Will using an "I" message?

Active Listening

Briefly introduce the topic to students by asking them to identify the characteristics of active listening. Then, with a volunteer, demonstrate poor listening (looking away, interrupting, changing the subject) and then good, active listening, modeling the skills described on Student Handout A.

Ask students to tell you what they noticed. Lead them to be specific, e.g., "You were doodling" or "You were looking away." Chart their responses in two lists, one for active listening and one for poor listening.

Have students pair off and take turns talking and listening about a non-threatening topic: "A Place I Love to Go," or "Something I Learned To Do." While one person speaks, the other should listen actively. Give each person a minute or less to speak. When both members have had a chance to speak, ask students to discuss the exercise.

Great Quotes about Character

Use this power point presentation as a springboard for discussion.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cartoon Conflict Resolution

Coyote and Road Runner have had a conflict for years...what happens when Coyote finally resolves his conflict? Watch here to find out!

Many classic cartoons are based on some conflict. Discuss some of your favorite cartoons and ways in which the conflict could be resolved. Here are some classic conflicts:

Tom & Jerry
Spongebob & Squidward
Angelica & Tommy
Charlie Brown & Lucy
Check out toonopedia for more cartoons!

Coping Strategies: Managing Feelings

Working in small groups, students will categorize coping strategies as positive, negative, neutral and time-out behaviors. Click here for the lesson plan.

Working Together

Machine Building: A Cooperative Activity

In this activity students will work in small groups to create a group machine.

Working it Out

Conflicts arise every day, so it’s important to know how to handle them. Use the articles at KidsHealth to research how to communicate your feelings in a positive way. Next read the scenarios on the Working It Out handout. Select two scenarios, identify the conflicts, and role-play the arguments and their resolutions. Remember that a solution does not necessarily mean that everyone agrees!

Select a conflict you see on TV and analyze how problem-solving is portrayed in that scene. What is the conflict? What strategies do the characters use to solve the problem? Are they effective strategies for solving the conflict peacefully? What strategies might the characters use instead? Finally, what effect do you think the media has on how people handle their problems?
Create a TV announcement that promotes solving conflicts in peaceful ways.

3 Steps for Conflict Resolution

Crossing Political Boundaries

On Wednesday, November 5, educators will walk into divided classrooms. Some children will be jubilant that their preferred candidate has won the presidency. Others will be crestfallen that theirs did not. Use this lesson to bring them together again. Click here for a lesson from

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mediate, Don't Instigate!

Click here for a great lesson that includes a mock peer mediation and conflict resolution scenarios.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Peace Quest with Kofi Annan

Take a trip with Kofi Annan to experience a year in the life of his peacequest as Secretary General. Click here to take an interactive journey through conflict resolution and peace making decisions.

Conflict Resolution and Peace

Use these quotes from famous individuals to facilitate student reflection on the importance of conflict resolution.

Conflict Resolution Jeopardy

Monday, November 3, 2008

Peace tattoos

Students "tattoo" themselves with a peaceful message, e.g., see excellent photos of words like "peace" written on people's hands. Thin, colored washable markers work well.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Anger Management Powerpoint

Preventing Conflicts and Violence

Conflict is a normal part of life. We all have occasional conflicts, even with people we love. But we shouldn't let little conflicts turn into big fights, especially violent ones. Here are some rules for keeping conflicts from getting out of control along with some great discussion questions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


One of the great things about humans is that each has a personality of his or her own. Each person comes with a unique combination of qualities. Think about the positive qualities people can have. Talk about:
  • What qualities do you admire in your friends?
  • Think about someone you admire. What qualities do you admire in that person?
  • Think about your heroes. What qualities does he/she have that you like?

It is said that any quality you admire is really yours.

Government Respect

How does government "of, by, and for the people" depend on respect? Write an essay connecting the concepts of democracy and respect. How is listening to different points of view a sign of respect and a cornerstone of democracy? What is it about the concept of democracy that relies upon mutual respect among people? How is the very concept of democracy related to respect for the individual?


Bullies are often trying to make people "respect" them. Is this really respect, or is it fear? What is the difference? How is bullying and violent behavior an act of disrespect?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

teen talk in a jar

I just purchased this from Discussion starters and icebreakers on just about everything teens want to talk about.

choices in a jar

I just purchased this from What’s your choice—to have to walk on stilts the rest of your life, or to always have to roller skate to get around? To have no short-term memory, or no long-term memory? To not eat for two days, or to not sleep for two days? Choice provokes thinking, and thinking is fun. Each card presents a delightful dilemma—sometimes unusual, always challenging—to spark conversation or controversy. Change your choice and change your mind.

ask the judge

Click the picture of the judge above to go to informational website about teen rights that will definitely prompt discussions!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

35 Activities Your Students Can Do To Learn Respect

There are many ways people show respect to others, and the more aware that students are of what those actions look and sound like, the more likely they are to incorporate those behaviors in their daily lives. Here are 35 activities students can do to learn the meaning and value of respect. There’s one (and a few more) for each day of the month.

Click here for the lessons.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Respect in Many Languages

Respect can be said in many different ways when looking at languages. Click here for a printable sheet to use for discussion.

Use this translator for other words:

Έχετε τη διασκέδαση

Respect Collage

Have students look through magazines for people respecting others' differences or pictures of different kinds of people working or playing together. Create a class "We Respect Differences" collage.

I Have A Dream..

Discuss Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech after viewing it below. Talk about how it affects people of all races.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Everybody Is Unique: A Lesson in Respect for Others

In this lesson, students search for the most positive aspects of some very unusual "people." The activity reinforces the idea that one can’t always judge the quality of a person by his or her appearance; sometimes people can be appreciated for their differences. Click here for the lesson plan.

triangles are not bad: a lesson in respect

We must teach people how to operate in a world that is diverse and pluralistic. Schooling is not effective if it doesn't have a multicultural component. This is true now and will be even more so in the future. By 2000 AD, 1 in 3 will be minorities. 80% of the labor force will be women and minorities. By 2010 AD, 1 in 2 will be minorities. Click here for a lesson on respect complete with a script: Triangles are not Bad!

the daily dilemma

Looking for some great discussion starters? Click the picture above to go to Charis Denison's daily dilemma page. She outlines the dilemma, gives teacher notes, and also gives pre-made discussion questions.

totem pole respect

Have students create their own totem pole out of construction paper to show respect. Each student will make 3-5 animals on their pole to represent different aspects of what they think respect is. Hang the totem poles around the room and let the students explain their own!


Listen to Arethra Franklin's RESPECT. Pass out lyrics and have students create their own respect songs using the music from Arethra. Have fun and let them dress up and perform it.

Click here for the lyric sheet.

how respectful are you?

Here's a fun way to talk about respect. Have students fill out the survey and discuss how difficult it is to always be respectful, then show a Simpsons video or any other sitcom/cartoon that is age appropriate. Students will mark respectful and disrespectful moments during the Simpsons video. Just about any cartoon/sitcom can work for this. Print out the quiz and discussion questions below!

Are You a Respectful Person?
(take this quiz to find out)


Middle schoolers love to perform. A great way to get them thinking about a topic such as respect, responsibility, or even the pillars of character is to have them create their own skits. I've had success in having students create two versions of a skit. For example, one skit would show respect, while the other showed disrespect in the same scenario. Students brainstorm, type scripts, create props, and act out their skits. This is also a great way to connect with younger students. Middle schoolers love to perform for little kids. Have fun with it! You could even do the skit of the month!

What's your cheese?

While thinking about goal setting and responsibility in the beginning of the year, show the video, "Who Moved My Cheese?" After viewing the video, do the following:
  • discuss the "handwriting on the wall"
  • ask what their "cheese" is
  • using the handwriting on the wall, help draw up a plan for students to find their cheese
  • click the mouse above and print out enough for each advisor.
  • have them decorate their mouse to represent their cheese
  • create a bulletin board with the mice and the handwriting on the wall