In the IB Curriculum, there is a unit called Solving it Myself. Students discuss various ways of solving problems on their own. They are asked to find a cause they care about and determine how they could help solve that problem. So if a student cares about cancer, they may develop a project about how they could raise money for cancer research. This is Project Based Learning (PBL). Another assignment was to create a comic strip about two people who are in the midst of a conflict. By the end of the comic strip, the conflict must be solved and students must show how it was solved. During the in-service week, the second grade team approached me about partnering with them to come up with a lesson on Conflict Resolution. I was excited that the team had asked me to partner with them. However, when I started looking for children's books on conflict resolution, I didn't find a lot. Since I didn't find much, I decided to review with students what a conflict is, the steps involved in solving a conflict, and how to make an "I statement." After we reviewed the PowerPoint I put together, we moved into the activity.
I created 6 conflict cards since there are 5-6 groups in each class. Each card had a conflict scenario on it for students to solve. If there were only 5 groups, I presented the first card as an example before students got started. I showed students how to identify the conflict and possible solutions. I explained how to weigh the pros and cons of each decision and to select the best solution based on the pros and cons. I also explained that if the first solution doesn't work, they have other options to try as a back up plan. I also gave an example of how to use an "I statement." Students then broke into groups to review their conflict card. I left the steps to solving a problem and how to make an "I statement" on the board for students to see. I walked around while students were working together to solve their conflicts. I had a mini conference with each group asking them to take me through the problem-solving steps, and if appropriate, how to make an "I statement." Sometimes we would be short on time and I would have to explain to the class what the correct answer was instead of helping the students get to the right answer. We would go over the answers as a class. Then we would review what a conflict was, the steps to solving a problem, and how to make an "I statement." I would take it a step further and ask students how they can use what they learned every day.
I liked doing the conflict cards with students. I think it was a good way for them to practice conflict resolution skills. I was just dissatisfied with presenting a PowerPoint to students about the steps involved in problem-solving. I tried to make it mostly discussion based, asking students to tell me what they had learned in their unit of inquiry. I know direct instruction is best when teaching certain skills, but it just felt like my lesson was missing something. I almost always read a book to students and follow-up with an activity. In the future, I may consider looking for a book that has a solid conflict in it to use an example. I grew up on Berenstain Bears, so I may consider looking for a book with a good conflict in it to read and practice the problem-solving steps.
The most appropriate Habits associated with the Leader in Me are Habit 4- Think Win-Win and Habit 5- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Students need to Think Win-Win by coming up with a solution that everyone involved in the conflict will be happy with. If students came up with a solution that only one person would be happy with, I would tell them to think through the scenario again to find a way that everyone can be happy. Use the terminology during your lesson. If students are coming up with solutions that only benefit one person, remind them to "Think Win-Win." Students also needed to Seek First to Understand by using empathy. Students need to take the time to understand how the other person is feeling instead of jumping to defend themselves or the position they are taking. I frequently stopped students to ask them how they thought the other person was feeling in the scenario. This would often get students to change their answer to be more empathetic, using both Habits 4 and 5. Again, don't be afraid to remind students to "Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood." These reminders during your classroom lessons help students to make connections to the Leader in Me and the 7 habits.