I visited Webster just before winter break this year; here is what we talked about:
4th Grade – Under Whose Influence
My discussion with the 4th Grade revolved around peer pressure and alcohol. After warming them up with some words puzzles, I read the class a short “choose your own adventure” novel called Under Whose Influence.
The book tells the story of a middle-school girl that goes to a classmates house to study and is unexpectedly given the choice to drink alcohol. Depending on the choices made by the class (majority rules), the main character might be peer pressured, she might choose to stay in the house or leave, drink or not drink, or whether to keep the incident a secret or tell her mom. The story changes depending on the choice and the consequences of each choice are described for the students to hear. After we finished the story, I spent the end of the class going through the branches that they didn’t choose.
5th Grade – Time to Make A Good Decision
My third day with the 5th graders was spent talking about decision making. At the beginning of the class the kids broke up into groups and played a decision-making game. There are 12 scenario cards (an example is pictured above); the kids take turns reading the cards and then they reveal their answers Rock, Paper, Scissors style with the Yes, No and Maybe cards.
Some of the themes and topics we covered include:
- You have a chance to cheat; what do you do?
- A friend tells you a secret; do you tell?
- You find a wallet with money and an ID; do you try to return it?
- Your mom tells you to do your homework and read for a specific amount of time, but you want to watch TV; do you obey mom’s orders?
- You see a student doing something dangerous at school; do you tell a teacher?
- You break something at your friend’s house and they get blamed; do you speak up?
The kids really got into it, and we finished the class by talking about some of the scenarios as a group. I emphasized that our decisions shape who we are and how others see us; I want the kids to understand that having integrity and doing the right thing is a habit that needs to be ingrained just like brushing your teeth and eating healthy.
Almost all 5th graders have a good handle on what is right and what is wrong when it comes to these types of decisions. However, kids that age (and sometimes adults too) would rather come up with elaborate reasons to justify doing what’s wrong instead of just doing what’s right.