Understanding Varied Responsibilities: Home, School, and Public Spaces

In grade one, we are wrapping up our first unit of inquiry, “Who We Are.” The central idea is, “Rights and responsibilities impact the way we interact with others in different situations.” It fits in perfectly with the beginning of the year, as a combination of returning students and new students create a new dynamic. The children have to figure out new routines and how to interact in a new classroom environment with new classmates and teachers.

To begin our year and unit, we worked together to create classroom agreements through teachers asking the children what are their responsibilities as students. To contribute to a positive environment, we focused on what the children should do, rather than what they should not do. Thus linking with the line of inquiry for what our responsibilities are when interacting with others. Along with classroom agreements, we created classroom jobs. The children brainstormed what jobs we needed then filled out a job application for jobs they would like to be responsible for. 

As we dug deeper into our inquiry, we started to explore how their responsibilities vary in different situations. We discussed our responsibilities at home, at school, and out in public as a citizen. We read many books to connect with our relationships, behaviors, and friendships. We also asked, “What responsibilities do I have to my body and mind?” We had activities about cleanliness, handwashing, and germs. We also learned about healthy eating and brushing our teeth. Additionally, during mindfulness time we talked about kindness to others and ourselves.

Discover resources and lesson plans for teaching responsibility to elementary students at Character.org.

Role-Playing Empathy: Understanding Impact on Others

One of our final activities was to role-play about how our actions affect others. The children worked in partners with a scenario card. After their performance, the children sorted the behaviors as positive or negative impacts on others. If they had a negative impact scenario, we discussed how to make a positive impact instead. 

Throughout our unit, the children have learned a lot about our rights as individuals, our responsibilities when interacting with others, and how our actions impact others.  Our next unit of inquiry will be “How we organize ourselves.” We will focus on signs, symbols, and communication systems. 

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