Directions: You will also have to make up a story about a day in the life of a student about the age of the students in your class which illustrates the typical put-downs he or she might hear in the course of a day from parents, peers



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Activity: I am Lovable and Capable Click here for a primary version

 

This activity is a variation on Sidney Simon and Merrill Harmin’s IALAC exercise. It will require two large paper hearts (cut out) on which is written “I am lovable and capable.”


 

Directions: You will also have to make up a story about a day in the life of a student about the age of the students in your class which illustrates the typical put-downs he or she might hear in the course of a day from parents, peers, and teachers. You can use the story outlined below as an example to work with. (MAKE THE STORY REAL FOR YOUR STUDENTS!)

 

Explain to students that for open and honest communication to happen, it will be important to be as supportive of each other and as caring as possible. In order to talk, freely, people need to feel that this is a place where we respect and trust one another.



 

Hold up one of the hearts, tape it to your chest and explain that every person starts out in life with a concept of themselves as someone who is important, someone who thinks important thoughts and has important feelings--someone who matters. This is called our “self-concept.” Explore the idea of self concept with the class. What do we mean by self concept? Where do we get the message about ourselves that from our self concept? Then begin the story.

 

Tell the story you have developed. As you tell it tear off pieces of the hear with each put-down the student endures and drop it to the floor. By the end of the story, there will be only a shred of the heart left. Tell the story as dramatically as you can.



 

Your story might run along these lines:

 

A student about the same age as those in your class. (let’s say the girls name is Sandra) gets up in the morning. Her mother complains that her hair looks like she hasn’t combed it in a month and asks her why she never irons her clothes. (Tear off a piece of the heart.) Her sister tells her she looks like she’s been out all night. (Tear off another piece)

 


She leaves the house late and is rushing for the bus when she realizes she’s forgotten her house keys. If she doesn’t have them she’s not going to be able to get in when she comes home at the end of the day. She goes back for the keys, but now she’s going to be good and late for her first block of Humanities.

 

When she gets to school, her Humanities teacher, Mr. Jones, says sarcastically, “There are some people in this class who seem to have a problem telling time.” (tear off a piece of the heart.) Then he reads, without naming the student who wrote the paper, an essay that he says illustrates a piece of writing that is very poor and disorganized and has no point of view. It’s Sandra’s paper. (Tear off a piece of the heart.)

 

at lunch time in the lunchroom, she trips over someone’s foot and spills her tray full of food all over the floor. All the students start laughing and applauding!! (Tear off a piece of the heart.)

 

 

Continue the story until Sandra gets home at the end of the day with a heart the size of a dime.


 

Now take the other heart and tape that to your chest. Tell the story over again, but this time have the students contribute comments that “put Sandra up”. This time the heart stays intact and you respond with pleasure, thanking people for their respectful comments. (You may want to photocopy the story to hand out so that students can easily say their positive comments at the right time!!)

 

Discuss: How do put-downs make people feel? How do put-ups make people feel? Why do people use put-downs? How can put-downs lead to conflicts or make conflicts worse?


 

Put-downs, Put-ups

 

Have the class think of things people say that put other people down. Take two or three examples. Say that we’re all familiar with put downs; we hear them a lot. Now ask for examples of put-ups (comments that make people feel good. Continue this for a minute or two. List contributions on the board.



 

Ask, where do people learn put-downs? What would be the effect on the group if everyone always put everyone else down? What would be the effect if everyone always used put-ups?

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