Students work together as a class to combine small-group visions into a larger vision of support for the class.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Create a personal definition of support
  2. Define support in terms of self, others, and environment
  3. Create a class definition of support and class vision of supportive behavior

Materials

Pen/paper, large post-its or poster paper, markers, and space for groups to brainstorm, materials to create a class vision of support (mural paper, paint, etc)

Exercises

Time Activity Notes
5 mins
Introduction

As an opening to class, give each student silent and independent time to answer the question, “What is support? What does it mean to feel supported and to be supportive?”

Little or no prompting is necessary before this activity so that students can bring their own ideas to the conversation without feeling like there is a “right” answer. Encourage students to respond authentically. You may want to play music during this time (thematic suggestions: “With a Little Help from My Friends” by the Beatles, “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, “I’ll Be There” by Jackson 5 or Mariah Carey), or ask students for a suggestion for a song about support that you can pull up online.
1 mins
Support Vision

Explain to the class that, rather than telling them what support looks like in your class, you would like them to create their own class-wide definition. They are going to work together in small groups to create a “support vision” for the classroom establishing what being supported and supportive means to them.

Each student already has their own definition, which they will use to work with a small group and create a list of things that they would like to see used in the whole-class vision of support. Once the class has created small group definitions, you will take time to examine each group’s definition, take the best ideas from each group, and put them together in one final vision of support for the classroom. This will be put up in the room and can be used to remind the class and others what support looks like in this class.

10 mins
Small Group Brainstorm

Give students time in small groups to discuss their individual definitions of support and brainstorm a list of things they can do to feel supported and to behave in supportive ways toward one another. Consider the following prompts:

  • What does supporting oneself look like?
  • What does treating each other in supportive ways look like?
  • What about support for the classroom environment?
  • How can each of those be added to the class vision of support?

These brainstorms can be on large paper and posted on the wall in the room for logistics in the next lesson activity.

Things to consider in guiding student brainstorm (to the extent that the you feel it’s appropriate):

  • Provide t-charts for brainstorming, with “supported/supportive” on one side and “not supported/supportive” on the other
  • Ask students to provide examples of actions that demonstrate support.
7 mins Every student should have a writing utensil for this phase of the lesson.

Once groups are done brainstorming, make sure each brainstorm is posted on the wall or somewhere all students can see it and write on it.

Then, have each student (as an individual now, no longer in small groups) walk around the room and read the ideas on the other groups’ papers.

Encourage students to make notes on the other groups’ papers when they agree strongly with another idea and would like to see it in the support vision (you may want to set expectations for no negative comments).

Students can also be encouraged to ask questions or add more information to other ideas in the room. This activity should be done quietly and independently to give students time to read and process all of the other ideas.

You can establish a code for writing on other groups’ posters for ease: a star means “strongly agree”, a question mark means “I don’t understand”, etc.
10 mins
Group Consensus and Drafting

Lead the group in examining the notes written on the posters and identifying trends in the ideas and the most popular ideas.

When guiding the group to a consensus, aim to hear all student voices, avoid personal biases or their own definition of support, and honor the students’ vision of support.

Depending on the developmental and skill level of your students, you may want to step out of this phase of the lesson and allow the group to come to a consensus on the ideas in the support vision without you.
5 mins
Final Draft

The group should establish a means to create a final draft of the support vision, whether that is selecting a student to write it out, having you create the large poster, or some other means of writing it.

5 mins
Reflection

See the questions under “Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment” below. Have students answer these questions in a format that works for your class, whether that is on paper, in smalls groups, as a whole-class discussion, etc.

2 mins
Closing

Post the final vision of support visibly in the room and remind students that it will remain up so that they can hold themselves, each other, and you accountable for the ideas that they have created.

Connections to Other Emotions

Creating a supportive environment will also foster the emotion of safe/comfortable, allowing students to feel like they can take emotional and intellectual risks in your classroom.

Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment

  1. What will our class be like if everyone follows the vision of support?
  2. Do you think your original definition of support is captured in the class vision? Why or why not?
  3. What is one specific way (please give a concrete example) that you can help our class live up to its vision of support?

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