Choice and Consequences

Type of Activity: Conflict resolution, making informed choices

Props Needed: Index cards with a choice written on each one, pen/pencil for each group of 3 to 4

Set Up: Divide participants into small groups of 3 to 4, and have each group sit together. Works well with Grades 2–5

Process: Give each group one index card with a choice written on it and a pencil. Here are some examples of choices:

  • Helping a friend with his or her homework.
  • Sassing to the principal.
  • Asking your elderly neighbor if she needs help shoveling snow.
  • Yelling loudly in the car when someone is driving.
  • Not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Wearing a seatbelt.
  • Picking up litter when you see it on the sidewalk.
  • Seeing a younger kid who is crying and finding out what is wrong.
  • Throwing things at moving cars.
  • Doing all your homework.
  • Volunteering at the neighborhood or community center.
  • Seeing an argument between your friends and walking away.

Have each group brainstorm as many consequences of each choice they chose as they can think of. Give them a reasonable amount of time to complete that task. Remind them that there may be positive and negative consequences.

Have each group share three ideas from their list.  Discuss which of the choices from this list could be described as responsible, and which ones could be described as irresponsible.

Next, pass out two index cards to each group.   Ask them to come up with one responsible choice and one irresponsible choice. Write one on each card.

Periodically choose one of the cards to discuss as a whole class. What are the possible consequences of the choice? Why is it responsible or irresponsible?

Variations: As a class, first do an analysis of choices and consequences as an example.

Extensions:

  • Revisit your Full Value Contract and discuss how each person is responsible to each other and the community.
  • Ask students to journal about choices they make that are responsible or irresponsible.

Debriefing Topics:

  • On the board write “Responsible choices” and brainstorm possible consequences of that. Do the same with “Irresponsible choices.”
  • If being responsible is a choice, how do you know when you are making a responsible choice? An irresponsible choice?
  • Share a responsible and irresponsible choice you have made in your life to show that everyone does it. Then ask, “What do you think I learned from my irresponsible choice? From my responsible choice?”
  • Is it possible to change irresponsible choices to responsible ones? How?
  • What are some choices you make every day?
  • How do you know these are choices?

Facilitator Notes: Many times we do not discuss the consequences of choices with students until they have made a bad one. This activity offers an opportunity to discuss the making of choices and the ensuing consequences when students are in a rational frame of mind. When students are subsequently held accountable for choices, they are then more likely to learn from their situations. They may also have a better chance of making responsible choices and preventing some conflicts and disagreeable situations from occurring.

For more resources see: Journey Towards a Caring Classroom, Setting the Conflict Compass

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