This writing exercise can result in a classroom bulletin board that might look something like this one I made a few years back. Ask students to reflect on the following questions: How does respect look? How does respect sound? How does respect feel? Then ask them to think about the question, “What can I do to show respect?” We pledge every day at Westwood to respect “myself, my teachers, and others.” What does that mean exactly? Students will then make a list of ways to radiate respect, much like the rays of sunlight in the sample bulletin board. From their lists, students will select one of the ways that they show respect and write a paragraph giving an example of this in action, either something they’ve experienced in their own life or something they saw happen between friends or family, on television, or in a movie. Post their paragraphs on a Radiating Respect bulletin board outside your classroom to share with your school family.
A big part of our Respect Pillar is appreciating differences. One easy way for our students to get to know one another is a little game that first-grade teacher Melanie Patton taught us to play. Pair students off and let them take turns sharing fun facts about themselves. Say you and I are partners. I’d say, “I have three brothers and one sister,” to which you might reply, “that’s not me. I have two sisters.” Then you say, “I grew up on a dairy farm,” to which I’d answer, “that’s me!” Then it’s my turn. When we’ve shared for five minutes, we switch partners and continue to play with a new friend. To each fun fact, students respond with either “that’s me” or “that’s not me.” No judgements, no right or wrong answers, only winners in this game as we celebrate those things that connect us and those things that make us unique. Want another Getting-To-Know-You idea? Click here for an article written by our Counselor, Barbara Gruener, for Teaching Tolerance magazine.
Good manners are big part of the Respect Pillar. Please is a Good Word to Say by Wisconsin author Barbara Joosse, is a precious read-aloud that finds a feisty, curly-haired Harriet dictating to her audience just how to use your manners, what to say when, when to say what, and when to say nothing at all. Using a creative, lively spin on an age-old social skill, Joosse engages young readers with humor and finesse to teach them the power of words and the importance of being well-mannered. Singing the song Respect, by Sally K. Albrecht and Jay Althouse, with lyrics like, “yes sir, no ma’am, please and thank you . . . that’s how you show respect!” will beautifully complement your lesson. Then all that’s left is for your students to practice, practice, practice.
Mei Mei grew up speaking, learning, and living . . . . in Chinese. She realizes I Hate English! when she moves to New York and is thrown into a total emersion program to learn the American tongue. This cultural masterpiece, by Ellen Levine, gets us inside of head and heart of a bright student who doesn’t feel so smart on her journey from her homeland to another. She can do anything she wants to . . . . in Chinese. But will her teacher, Miss Nancy, be able to unlock the door that’s keeping Mei Mei inside herself, and help her learn to integrate her Chinese heritage into her new life in America? After reading this jewel aloud, have students switch places with Mei Mei and explain how she feels in New York, on the streets, in the classroom, at the beach. Then introduce them to some words in another language. Let them draw some of the Chinese symbols from the book. Explore the Russian alphabet. How many letters are there? Do any look like ours? Check out the Spanish alphabet; how many more letters does Spanish have than English? Look at Hebrew and note its directionality. Do books in Hebrew open up like ours? How about books in Japanese? Using this tale as a springboard for an amazing cultural celebration, complement the lesson with The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi and Crow Boy by Taro Yashima. Extend by asking students to write a paragraph about a time when they moved or traveled to a new place, when they were somewhere where they didn’t feel like they belonged or when they didn’t quite fit in. Encourage them to not just tell, but to show what happened, how it felt, and what they did about it. Then watch for a new appreciation and sensitivity for other cultures to emerge.
Towering With Respect
Want an interactive game to visually show RESPECT? Using 25 index cards, write down things that kids do. Let students help you create the list. Some behaviors show respect (holding the door for someone), others show disrespect (saying “shut up”). Break students into two teams. Using Jenga blocks, team members will take turns building a tower. The catch? If the team draws a respectful behavior, they add a block to their tower. If they draw a disrespectful behavior, they have to remove a block. Who’ll have the tallest tower? Let respect decide. Then process the role of respect in building reputations and relationships.
Jungle Bullies by Steven Kroll is a great read-aloud for bully busters. Elephant starts a bullying chain when he glares at Hippo and uses his hard words to boss Hippo out of the pond. Saddened by Elephant’s mandate, Hippo buckles under the pressure to leave and then promptly nudges Lion out of his way on the path. Lion continues the pattern of bullying behavior when he pushes Leopard out of his napping spot, and Leopard follows suit when he orders Monkey out of his tree.
The scared little Monkey runs to another tree to find Mama, who initally encourages him to solve his own problem. When she sees that her tot’s safety is threatened by the bully, Mama teaches him to stand up to bullies. Using a clever little rhyme that makes this an engaging read-aloud, Monkey starts the chain reaction that turns the bully into a buddy, animal by animal, all the way back to Elephant, who ends up agreeing that, “Big or little, large or small, this pond’s big enough for all. Bullies aren’t ever fair; it’s a lot more fun to share.” This little gem, with its eye-catching illustrations by Vincent Nguyen, will be a welcomed addition to your library and will serve as a springboard for a meaty discussion about the negative effects of bullying and the positive effects of getting along.
At Westwood, we used Kelso’s Choice Conflict Management for Children to help solve our little problems; students are encouraged to get an adult to help them solve their big problems. Little problems are things that simply bother and annoy; big problems threaten our safety and security. Specifically with bullying behaviors, students are encouraged to use the three-step problem-solving strategy that we learned from Dennis Lee: Talk, Walk, Tell. First, talk with the bully. Tell him or her how their behavior makes you feel and then ask them to stop. The second step is to walk away. I typically add that walking away toward an adult is helpful at this point. It’s not likely that a bully will follow you if you’re headed in the direction of a grown up. Step three is to tell a trusted adult. This step is only needed Talk and Walk don’t work. Children are empowered by solving their small problems, but they need reassurance that adults are there to help when what they’ve tried isn’t working to solve their problem.
Give Your Child Tools For Tolerance
1. Invite someone of a different background to join your family for a meal or holiday.
2. Give a multicultural doll, toy, or game as a gift.
3. Assess the cultural diversity reflected in your home’s artwork, music and literature. Add something new.
4. Don’t buy playthings that promote or glorify violence.
5. Establish a high “comfort level” for open dialogue about social issues. Let children know that no subject is taboo.
6. Bookmark equity and diversity websites on your home computer.
7. Point out stereotypes and cultural misinformation depicted in movies, TV shows, computer games, and other media.
8. Take the family to an ethnic restaurant. Learn about more than just the food.
9. Involve all members of the family in selecting organizations to support with charitable gifts.
10. Gather information about local volunteer opportunities and let your children select projects for family participation.
11. Play “action hero” with your children. Are the heroes all aggressive males? Help your children see the heroic qualities in those whose contributions often go unrecognized (e.g., nurses, bridge builders, volunteers in homeless shelters).
12. Affirm your children’s curiosity about race and ethnicity. Point out that people come in many shades.
13. Help young children make an illustrated list of what friends do or what friendship means.
14. Read books with multicultural and tolerance themes to your children.
15. Watch what you say in front of children when you’re angry. Curb your road rage.
16. Watch how you handle emotional issues with girls and boys. Do you attempt to distract crying boys but reassure crying girls?
17. Examine the “diversity profile” for your children’s friends. Expand the circle by helping your children develop new relationships.
18. Enroll your children in schools, daycare centers, after-school programs, and camps that reflect and celebrate differences.
19. Participate in a Big Brother or Big Sister program.
20. Talk with students about the stigma of mental illness.
21. Talk with students about aging adults and sometimes how they are stereotyped and looked upon negatively by others, simply because they are aging.
22. Talk with students about women’s rights.
23. Talk with students about how language diversity is to be appreciated not mocked.
The Colors of Us Diversity Lesson
by Angela Griffin, former 1st grade teacher, Westwood Elementary
Early in the Fall semester, a need for an intervention arose when my students had a clear interest in the physical appearance of themselves, their classmates and many people around them, but demonstrated a misunderstanding about what it all meant.
My campus counselor provided me with some inspiration on how to reach a better understanding of peopleís unique diversities among my students. Below is the simple lesson that prompted some amazing discoveries.
• Learners will discover the unique differences among skin tones.
• Learners will recognize that differences are found in each of us and that those differences make us special.
• Learners will use adjectives and imagery to create names for their individual skin tone.
• The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
• Crayola Multicultural paint set
• Plate (for mixing paint)
• Posterboard/construction paper
• Writing Paper
1. Read The Colors of Us by Karen Katz.
2. Discuss the vivid adjectives used to describe the characters’ skin tones. Discuss the varying nuances of each skin color revealing that no two skin colors are alike, and that each are beautiful and unique.
3. Call each student to the front, one-by-one, to reveal their own special skin color. To do this, make a palette of the Crayola multicultural paints on a plate. The names of the paint shades include: bronze, peach, taupe, etc. For each student, create a distinctive assortment of the paints that match their skin tone. You can match the paint directly onto the top of their hands.
4. Once an exact match has been created, place a small spot of paint on the poster board or construction paper. Write the child’s name above the sample.
5. Together, create a name that describes what that childís color is. For example, creamy peanut butter, cotton candy, double fudge, honey, pumpkin pie, etc. Write the name underneath the color sample.
6. When every student has created their unique color, and color name and it is presented on the poster, your finished product is a collection of both fascinatingly-diverse skin tones and brilliant names to describe them.
• End your lesson with a discussion of student discoveries. Discuss the differences in each of the skin tones and reflect on how everyone is different, but shares a common thread of beautiful appearances.
Allow students to write sentences describing their own unique skin tone. Include painted illustrations. Put them together for a class book or onto a class bulletin board.
The Band-Aid Chicken
by Becky Henton
A new chicken enters the barnyard (or classroom!) excited and eager to make new friends. However, she soon discovers that she must endure the painful initiation of being pecked by the other chickens. She survives her ordeal and is accepted into the group. Noticing her bruised head, the farmer covers her sores with a band-aid and names her the Band-Aid Chicken. When another new chicken enters the yard, the Band-Aid Chicken refuses to participate in the pecking initiation and convinces the other chickens to refuse, too, by reminding them how much the pecking hurt her head and her heart.
To add movement to this respect lesson, do the Chicken Dance together. As the music plays through the chicken motions of the dance, remind the students of their promise not to ever “peck” on anyone. Check out the words that Leanne Hibbs, a colleague in PA, and I wrote to enhance our dance! The leader talks through the verses for the little dancers and they students recite in unision, “Oh NO, not us!” and later in the song, “Oh YES, that’s us!” Enjoy the dance with your little birds!
The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric
After reading the book aloud, questions like these will help facilitate a discussion about the book’s theme:
1. How many of you have ever been the new kid somewhere?
2. Can you talk about that experience of being new?
3. What made Lazlo seem weird to the other children?
4. What could the teacher have done to help Lazlo?
5. When did Ellie finally realize that Lazlo could use some help?
6. What did Ellie do to take the first step?
7. Do you think it was easy for Ellie to befriend Lazlo? Why or why not?
8. How did Ellie influence Carrie?
9. What might the problem be with judging people on their appearance?
10. What did the girls realize is a better way to judge people?
Consider using these activities for follow-up and enrichment:
1. Compare and Share
A good way to learn about desirable versus undesirable behaviors is to compare and contrast characters from the book. Using the chalkboard or a large flip chart, make a T-chart and label the two columns Ellie and Lazlo. Make a list as the students call out words that describe these two children, making sure that it’s not just physical description, but includes character traits and feelings, too. Draw parallels to show that, while they are unique in ways, they are not so very different at all. You can then use Carrie and Lazlo or even Lazlo and the teacher. From this discussion, you can have students buddy buzz with a partner to find ways in which they are similar and different.
2. To Market, To Market
Books that teach a lesson are a welcomed addition to the children’s literature market. Students will produce an advertisement or commercial to market this book (or their favorite book) and help it become a bestseller. Have students check out advertisements in the yellow pages, in magazines, and on television. Their ad will have to answer the following questions:
1. What is the name of the book?
2. Who are the author and illustrator?
3. Will it serve or help someone? How?
4. Why would this be an important book to own?
5. Is this book unique? If so, what sets this book apart?
6. What are the issues this book addresses?
7. Where is it available?
8. When is it available?
9. How much does it cost?
10. Is it available in hardcover and/or softback?
Students might also include a short review as often advertisements will have quotes from reviewers to help sell the product. Students will present their commercials or advertisements in front of the group, then they can be displayed – this would be an especially good project around Open House time so that children can share their projects with their parents!
3. A TeRRiFiCC Mobile
Ellie sets a good example by demonstrating characteristics from all Six Pillars of Character. Ask the students to identify how. Look for statements like: she befriended Lazlo, which showed loyalty. She took responsibility for helping Lazlo make the adjustment to his new school. She showed his mother respect by responding to her despair and reaching out when no one else would. She treated Lazlo with fairness and equality. She cared about him and showed kindness. And she acted like a good friend by sticking up for him when questioned by her friends. Ellie showed TeRRiFiCC character!
Students can make a visual reminder of TeRRiFiCC character and model behavior to hang in their rooms at home or from the ceiling in the classroom.
You will need:
1 wire coat hanger, 6 pieces of yarn or string (cut at different lengths), 7 pieces of construction paper or card stock, crayons, markers, or gel pens, a pair of scissors and a hole punch, old magazines and glue as desired
Step 1: Using colored paper, cut six shapes to display your pictures and hang from your mobile. They can be cloud shapes, geometrical shapes, pillars, or even large letters – a T, two Rs, an F and 2 Cs. Use the CC! color scheme – blue to represent Trustworthiness, yellow for Respect, green for Responsibility, orange for Fairness, red for Caring, and purple for Citizenship.
Step 2: Cut and paste or draw pictures that show the Six Pillars of Character in action on both sides of your shapes to be hung from your mobile. (Use scenes from The Brand New Kid or create pictures from your own experience) On the Trustworthiness shape, for example, have a picture showing someone, like Ellie, being trustworthy, loyal, or honest, etc. Label your Trustworthiness shape with a T, your Respect and Responsibility shapes with an R, your Fairness shape with an F, and your Caring and Citizenship shapes with a C to spell out TRRFCC.
Step 3: Punch a hole at the top of each shape so that you can attach it to the hanger.
Step 4: Trace the hanger onto the last piece of colored paper. Cut the hanger shape out and write CHARACTER COUNTS! (or CC!) on both sides. Either draw or cut and paste pictures which represent TRRFCC behavior. Use tape to secure it inside the hanger.
Step 5: Cut 6 pieces of string or yarn at varying lengths. Tie a knot to secure each piece of string onto the wire hanger, then thread the other end it through the hole in each shape and tie a knot to attach them. Space them apart equally so that they hang nicely from the hanger. You can use a dab of glue on each knot to keep them from sliding and/or detaching.