Most classrooms today reflect the cultural diversity in America. Students of different races, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds join together almost daily to learn, explore and discover new things.
Yet with these differences come varying opinions and perspectives on particular events and situations. This can often lead to intolerance and, at times, conflict among students.
One way to help students see and understand the world from another’s point of view is to teach perspective-taking. This process requires you to put yourself in someone else’s position and imagine what you would feel, think or do if you were in that situation. Perspective taking can help students gain a better understanding of others, build new or stronger relationships and develop a greater sense of community among their peers.
In this activity, students will evaluate and compare different ways of viewing the world around them, which helps them realize how communication with others can be useful and gratifying during times of need. Additionally, students also see that it is possible to turn a negative into a positive with help and a different perspective.
- Divide students into groups of four and have them sit on the floor facing each other.
- Give each group one sheet of poster board.
- Tell one student to divide the poster board into four equal quadrants. Have each student write his or her name in the corner of the quadrant closest to him/her.
- Designate one member of the group to be the recorder.
- Tell students to brainstorm a list of events that cause stress (such as failing a test, having a disagreement with a friend, losing a soccer game, not having a play date, and so on) and have the recorder write the events on the back of the poster board.
- Once they have the list, ask students to think about a time when they felt stressed over one of those experiences.
- Have them turn the poster board over and write the feeling that accompanied that event (for example, angry, sad, embarrassed, disrespected, or lonely) in the quadrant under their names.
- Tell students to scribble in their spaces to relieve some of those stressful feelings.
- After about one minute, tell the students to turn the paper clockwise so that they have another student’s square in front of them.
- The job is now twofold: First, have each student add a word or short phrase to help change the owner’s perception of the event; second, have students make the scribble into something nice.
- Every two minutes or so, turn the paper clockwise to allow the next person to add a comment and add to this picture.
- Continue until the quadrants make it back to the original owners.
Once finished, take some time to assess the activity. Ask students what the purpose of the activity was. Identify the stress management techniques that were applied in this activity (some possible answers are communication, humor, relaxation in the drawing activity or reaching out to others for assistance). Finally, ask students to share how this activity made them feel. The goal is to encourage students to share their experiences and see them in a different light with the help of their peers.