This activity, written by the North Haven High School inspirED team, is designed to get a class feeling connected and supported.

Objectives

  1. Cognitive: Provide various opportunities for students to think critically about their attitudes, beliefs, and goals.
  2.  Affective: Enable students to feel a sense of connection to themselves and their peers.

Materials

  • A ball with numbers from 1-8 written on it
  • A list of the “levels” of questions involved in the activity

Teacher Prep

  • Write the numbers 1-8 on the ball.
  • Set up room so it is conducive to students talking in a large group.
  • Have a prepared list of the questions listed below for each “level.” Feel free to add your own!

Level 1 Questions

  1. What is your favorite color and why?
  2. What is your favorite book and why?
  3. Do you enjoy writing? About what?
  4. Do you hide things well? Why or why not?
  5. How well do you handle stress?
  6. Who outside your family has made a difference in your life?
  7. Where is your “happy place?”
  8. Do you have any nervous habits?

Level 2 Questions

  1. What symbol, object, or saying best represents your life?
  2. Who is the most important person in your life? Why?
  3. What events in your life have brought you closer to understanding yourself?
  4. Do you believe everything happens for a reason?
  5. Who or what are you missing right now?
  6. Do you want to be a parent someday? Why or why not?
  7. How emotionally intelligent do you think you are?
  8. How do you take care of yourself when you’re going through a hard time?

Level 3 Questions

  1. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  2. What do you want people to see when they look at you?
  3. What do you wish people appreciated more about you?
  4. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  5. What is one thing you would change about yourself?
  6. What experience have you had with negative or positive labels?
  7. Have you ever made a difference in someone else’s life?
  8. What do you want to see more or less of in the world?

Exercises

Time Activity Notes
5 min
  • Explain to students that they will be participating in an exercise designed by other students to build relationships and reflect on personal experiences.
  • Show students the numbered ball and explain that they will take turns throwing the ball to each other and responding to questions. They also will take turns asking questions.
  • When they catch the ball, the number their right thumb touches (or is closest to) will correspond to a question on a list that they will be asked.
  • Students may “pass” or request another question if they are uncomfortable for any reason.
  • Remind students that this is a judgment-free activity and that what is said here, stays here.
  • After answering the question, they receive the list of questions so they can ask the question for the next person who receives the ball.
  • Ask a student to volunteer to read the first question. When the ball is thrown, they will pass the question list to the person who just threw the ball, so that person can read the next question.
If you are doing this activity with a brand new group with students who haven’t yet met each other, consider beginning by going around the circle and asking everyone to share their names and a little-known fact about themselves.
10 min
  • Have students sit in a circle facing each other.
  • To begin, find a volunteer and toss the ball to them. Ask them to read the number closest to their right thumb.
  • Read the corresponding question in Level 1.
  • After the student has answered, pass the list of questions to that student so s/he is ready to read the question to the next student who catches the ball.
  • Continue by asking the student to throw the ball to someone else. Repeat until all questions have been answered, or until students are ready to proceed to Level 2.
Encourage students to respect and validate others’ sharing.

Brief discussions about each question are normal; there is no need to prevent students from discussing their opinions in between questions.

10 min
  • Explain that in Level 2, the questions can be a little more personal. Remind students that they can pass or request a new question. Remind students to give everyone a turn to answer.
  • Throw the ball to a student and ask the corresponding question.
  • After the student has answered, pass the list of questions to that student so s/he is ready to read the question to the next student who catches the ball.
  • Repeat until all questions have been answered, or until students are ready to proceed to Level 3.
10 min
    • Explain that this is the final level of questions.
    • Throw the ball to a student and ask the corresponding question.
    • After the student has answered, pass the list of questions to that student so s/he is ready to read the question to the next student who catches the ball.
    • Repeat until all questions have been answered.
In Level 3, students may choose to respond to a new question each time they catch the ball, or they may also respond to the previous question asked.
15 min
    • Thank students for sharing and for respecting each other.
    • Say: As individuals, the challenges we face in life help determine who we are. No two people’s experiences or perspectives are identical.  These questions were designed to bring you closer to understanding yourself, and to think about your classmates in new ways.
    • Ask: How did it feel talking about yourself?
    • Ask: How did it feel hearing about others?
    • Ask: Did you learn or discover anything from this exercise?
To close, ask students to write one reflection from the activity on a sticky note or piece of paper. This can be a motivational statement, an observation, or anything else. With students’ permission, display the papers in your classroom.

Teacher Reflection

How did you feel after the activity? Did students participate and seem engaged?

Remember to ask the students to share their feedback on the activity: What went well? What suggestions do they have for making the activity better? Think about what you might do differently next time.

Emotional Intelligence Tips

Some students might not feel comfortable answering questions about themselves. Allow space for each student to choose their own level of participation, and for some students to model active participation for their peers. You might notice that some of the quieter students are willing to speak up after watching others go first.

This activity was created by Sarah Bouffard, Sachi Patel, and Jamie Fredericks from North Haven High School’s inspirED team. To submit your own activity, please contact us at inspirED@yale.edu

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