Lesson Plan: Skits to Solve School Problems in Peaceful Ways

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Children love performing and watching themselves on film. This lesson uses scenario planning, acting, filming and analyzing to practice solving problems peacefully in ways that are relevant and personalized for students. It can be adapted to any age level simply by adjusting the depth of dialogue and complexity of conflict situations. The process helps students develop empathy by providing them with an opportunity to think and apply their knowledge and experience to conflict and problem solving skits. Research shows that empathy is positively linked[1] to peaceful conflict resolution and both predicts successful conflict management as well as reduces the likelihood of getting involved in conflict in the first place.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • identify what getting along looks, sounds and feels like

  • identify peaceful choices in common school/classroom problems

  • practice working through "school or classroom conflicts" faced at school

  • reflect on the cause of the "problem" or conflict, the feelings that exist during conflict and the potential actions to solve them peacefully

Materials Required:

  • White board (brainstorm, discussion notes)

  • iPad (for filming)

  • any props or materials needed for student skits

  • projector to show or present the recorded skits

Teaching and Learning Activities:

  1. ACTIVATE THINKING:  Write “Solving Problems Peacefully” on the board. As a class, discuss what "peace" and "peacefully"[2] means. Note that peace is not about avoiding conflict entirely or being compliant, disengaged or coerced into behaving a certain way.
  2. Introduce the idea of school conflict and brainstorm a list of typical problems or conflicts students face regularly. Record student responses on the board for students to reference after
  3. Pick one example and have student volunteers come to the front of the class and improvise the scenario for the class. Discuss WHY this conflict or problem existed. Topics that may arise include power imbalances, self-esteem, miscommunication and assumptions. Discuss the emotions that are potentially felt by those involved in the conflict scenario.
  4. Brainstorm what possible actions (by those involved or bystanders) might help solve this conflict or problem in peaceful ways.
  5. Small Group Task - explain that students will work in small groups to create and act out a typical school/classroom based conflict or problem. Suggest that each group select a problem listed from the brainstorm.  In addition to the problem skit, each group will be required to discuss strategies to solving that problem scenario peacefully, choose one and act it out as a “peaceful solution.” (Prompt groups to think about what the conflict looks, sounds and feels like.)
  6. Film each group’s skits individually as they are ready. Each group will act out the problem and then their peaceful solution.
  7. Once filming is complete - watch the videos together as a class. For each small group’s video, show the problem skit first, then pause the video to hold a large group discussion on ideas to solve the scenario peacefully. Finally, show the group’s filmed version of their peaceful solution. Repeat this process for each group’s video.
  8. Challenge students to watch for these conflicts around the school and in the classroom to apply what they have learned.

Adaptations:

  • Prearrange the small groups to pair certain students together in terms of ability or support.

  • Students who are too shy can choose to take on a "directing role" if they don't want to be in the film.

  • Each group could have a presenter or co-hosts to discuss their video with the class.

  • Nervous students can have non-speaking roles

  • Shy groups may need encouragement and help "scripting" what to say

Follow-up Activities:

  • Have students reflect on the lesson in a journal entry

  • Older classes could share these videos with younger students through “buddy” relationships or leadership lessons

In a study of 307 teens, higher levels of empathy was found to be linked with more successful problem solving and conflict resolution.

Solving problems peacefully means using empathy, understanding other points of view and actively coming up with strategies to make things right in a fair way, while respecting others and themselves.

Three approaches to foster peaceful classrooms include:

  1. Create a space and emotional environment that will have universal impact.
  2. Explicitly teach positive communication strategies to build a repertoire of easily accessible skills.
  3. Engage in activities that integrate strategies and develop peaceful habits of mind.
     
  • Secure and Calm

    Secure and calm describes the ability to take part in daily activities and approach new situations without being overwhelmed with worries, sadness or anxiety. To be secure and calm also means being able to cope with stress and pressure, and to bounce back from difficulties.
  • Gets Along with Others

    Getting along with others is the ability to form positive and healthy relationships with peers and adults. Children with better abilities to regulate their emotions and behaviours have more friends and experience more positive playtime with their peers.
  • Alert and Engaged

    Being alert and engaged is the ability to manage and direct one's own feelings, thoughts and emotions. In general, the ability to be 'present' and to exercise self-control.
  • Compassionate and Kind

    Being compassionate and kind is closely related to empathy. While empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and to feel the emotions of another person, compassion goes one step further.
  • Solves Problems Peacefully

    Managing conflict effectively is about creating an atmosphere where violence and aggression are not likely. To resolve conflict means using empathy, problem-solving skills, understanding other points of view and coming up with ways to make things right in a fair way.