Two lessons for grades 3-6
The first lesson introduces students to the concept of conflict, helps them consider that conflict is a normal part of life and does not have to lead to violence, and asks them to consider examples of conflict in their own lives. In the second lesson, students practice coming up with "win-win solutions" to conflict.
Students will be able to give an accurate definition of conflict.
Students will recall and describe conflicts they have experienced.
Agenda written on chalkboard or chart paper
Gathering: If Conflict Were a Color
'Lay out an array of colored paper on a table or on the floor. (Origami paper is especially good to use; you can get it at museums or art supply stores.) Ask students to choose a color of paper that represents "conflict" to them. Say, "If conflict were a color, it would be ... " and have them get up and pick out a piece of paper. Be sure to have lots of red, as that's the color most people choose. Have students find a partner. Give them a minute or two to share with their partners what color they chose and why.
Go over the day's plan with students.
Defining Conflict: Conflict Web
Write the word "conflict" on the board and draw a circle around it. Ask the students what words or phrases come up when they hear the word, and record their responses as a web: Write their contributions on the board, using lines to connect each word to the word "conflict" or related words. Continue for about three to five minutes (or longer if interest remains high).
A. Using their responses, help them come to a definition of "conflict" as an argument, a disagreement, or a fight.
B. Some questions to ask: What do you notice about the web? Can we make any generalizations about it? Why are most of our associations negative?
C. Write CONFLICT = VIOLENCE on the board to make the point that many people equate the two concepts. Ask, Does conflict equal violence? What is the difference between conflict and violence?
When a distinction has been made, draw a line through the equal sign like this (CONFLICT ? VIOLENCE) to show that conflict and violence do not necessarily go together. Then erase these words from the board. Point out that conflict and violence are not the same thing. Conflicts do not have to lead to violence.
D. Make the point that conflict is a natural and normal part of life, that we all experience conflicts at home, at work, in school, on the street, and that countries also have conflicts with each other.
Remembering Personal Conflicts
Introduction: Since conflicts are a part of life and everybody has them, class members will think about conflicts they have experienced.
A. Tell a story about a conflict you have had recently with another person. Include concrete details of where the conflict happened, who was involved, what happened, how it ended, and how you felt about it in the end.
B. Then ask students to raise their hands if they can remember a time they have had a conflict. Call on a few to describe their conflicts.
C. Divide the class into pairs. Ask students to take turns telling their partners a story about a conflict they have had including who was involved, how it started, how it ended, and how they felt when it ended. Write the words "where," "who," "what," "end," and "feel," on the board as a reminder of what the story is to include. Time them for two or three minutes each.
D. Ask some volunteers to tell their stories to the class. Ask, What happened? Who was involved? How did it turn out? How did you feel?
E. Summarize: Point out that conflicts can end in different ways. Sometimes one person ends up feeling good and the other feeling bad. Sometimes both people end up feeling bad. Sometimes both people end up feeling good. Everybody has conflicts. Conflicts are part of life.
Ask, "What was something you liked about today? Was there anything that seemed hard?"
Ask students to make a circle and join hands. Everyone bends over, hands almost touching the floor. Start saying "Yes" together softly and draw the word out, getting louder and louder as you slowly raise hands into the air. Conclude by throwing hands into the air overhead, completing the word loudly and energetically.
Suggestions for Infusion
Have students write their stories of personal conflicts.
Most stories develop around a conflict, sometimes between characters in a story and sometimes between parts of the self. Whatever story the students are reading, have them locate the conflict and discuss it. What started the conflict? Who was involved? What happened? How did it end? How did each character feel in the end?
Discuss conflicts in the news. See "Teaching About Controversial Issues" for an approach to doing this.
Students will practice thinking up win-win solutions for conflict situations.
Agenda written on chalkboard or chart paper
[Note: This lesson requires a role play set up ahead of class with either another adult, a student, or puppets. See lesson below for details.]
Gathering: Count to Five
The challenge in this game is to have people in the class call out the numbers from one to five without having two people talking at once. Introduce the game by explaining the following rules:
- Anyone can call out a number, starting with one.
- The numbers have to be in order.
- If two people say the same number at the same time, the class has to start over.
Check to see if everybody understands the rules. If not, ask someone who does understand them to explain them to those who don't.
Ask for a volunteer to be the monitor. If s/he hears two people talking at once, s/he raises his or her hand to signal that the game has to start over.
Set a timer for three minutes. If the group doesn't master the task by that time, it will just become frustrated.
Discuss: What made this hard? What would make it easier?
Go over the day's plan and ask if it seems okay.
Introduction: Role-play the following situation with another adult, a student, or with puppets. Freeze the action where the argument is heating up.
A. Claire is in high school, has a big test coming up, and has just settled down to study. Amy, her younger sister, comes home from school, turns on the stereo, and starts dancing. Claire gets up and orders Amy to turn off the stereo. Amy protests, saying she never gets to have fun, and turns the stereo up.
B. Ask the class to describe what's going on. What does Claire need? What does Amy need? If Claire won, what would she get? How would she feel? If Amy won, what would she get? How would she feel?
C. Show students the following diagram of ways the conflict could come out.
Amy gets what she needs
Amy doesn't get what
Claire gets what she needs
Claire doesn't get what
D. Ask for ideas about how this conflict might come out. Have two students role-play one of the endings that is suggested. The two can be the student who suggested the ending (if s/he wants to do it) and a volunteer or two volunteers that you choose.
E. Discuss where the ending is located on the chart. Does Amy get what she wants? Does Claire? Then what kind of an ending is that?
F. Continue with other endings. Role-play at least one ending for each category.
G. When the students have arrived at a win-win ending to role-play, spend some time drawing out as many win-win solutions as they can come up with. Go for quantity. Point out that most conflicts have many win-win solutions depending on what is acceptable to both parties.
Ask a few volunteers, What are some feelings you had about today's lesson? What are some reasons why you feel that way?
Go-round. Who is someone you'd like to work out a win-win solution with?
Conflict Analysis Checklist
Ask the class, "If you were going to help some of the kids in this class find win-win solutions to a conflict, what would you need to know before you could help?"
List all the suggestions on the board. When the class is done giving their suggestions, discuss which ones are similar. Combine similar ones until you have a list of about five.
Arrange in order of importance. Label it Conflict Analysis Checklist. Explain that the list shows the kind of information you need in order to help resolve conflicts in a win-win manner.
Your checklist might look something like this:
1. Who's involved?
2. What did they do?
3. How did they do it?
4. How is "A" feeling? How is "B" feeling?
5. What does "A" say she/he wants? What does "B" say she/he wants? Etc.
6. What does "A" need in order to feel happy with the solution to the conflict? What does "B" need? Etc.
How would this information be helpful? What would you do with the information once you had it? Why might it be helpful to be able to analyze a conflict in this way?
Practice Analyzing Conflicts
Make five or six copies of the Conflict Analysis Checklist for each student, allowing space between each question for writing.
Divide the class into groups of three or four. Ask each group to prepare a skit based on a conflict experienced by one of the members of the group. Give the students five or ten minutes to rehearse their skits. Then have each group present their skit to the class.
After each skit is presented, all the students are to fill in their checklist sheets. They can ask questions of the students who put on the skit if necessary. Go over the answers with the whole class and discuss before moving on to the next skit.
You can also give the students practice analyzing conflicts by using situations from stories the class is reading, situations in the newspaper, actual incidents in the classroom, or situations you think up and present to the class and present with puppets.
We welcome your thoughts and suggestions about these activities! Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.