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"Managing Anger"

Estimated Time of Completion: Two 45-minute class periods;
or one 45-minute class period plus one 30-minute training workshop

I. Summary
II. Objectives
III. Materials Needed
IV. Procedure
V. Classroom Assessment
VI. Extensions and Adaptations
VII. Online Resources
VIII. Relevant National Standards

I. Summary:

For grades 9-12. This lesson plan is designed to teach anger management and conflict resolution through the "I-Message" communication technique and other group activities.

II. Objectives:

III. Materials Needed:

IV. Procedure:

  1. Begin the lesson by working with the class to compile a list of feelings: negative in one column, positive in another. You'll be referring to this list later.

  2. Explain that today, the topic will be what happens when people get angry, and what they do as well as not do.

  3. Ask the class to reflect on the last time that they were angry. Ask them to focus on where that anger came from. Do the angry feelings have synonyms, such as frustration, rage, disappointment, etc.?

  4. Ask them to share, as best they can, what happened to them when they got angry. Examples: went to sleep, yelled at their dog, confronted someone, cried, punched a wall, irritated, flight or fight, etc.

  5. This would be a good time to show students the corresponding video clip from the In the Mix program "School Violence: Answers From The Inside." (Video Cue: This clip begins 16:55 minutes into the program, and ends at 22:05 minutes into the program)

  6. Pair the students up and ask them now to share what they felt like when someone was angry at/with them. How did you know the other person was angry? What did they do in reaction to the other person's anger? Have each pair give a brief summary to the group. Record the main ideas on the blackboard.

  7. Ask each pair to join with another pair. Ask the new foursomes to discuss if there's any one correct way to handle anger. Report back to the class. Record on the blackboard.

  8. This is a good time to talk about inappropriate venues of venting anger, such as physical fighting, punching walls, etc. Keep in mind that often a physical fight is admired within certain peer groups, and often children are instructed by their parents and peers to only take so much before standing up for themselves physically. Listen and divert to more positive options, rather than challenging the method. Punching a wall and other physical manifestations of anger, if repeated constantly, is a mental health issue. The actual physical pain is a catharsis for the internal pain that the student has no idea how to handle. Explain that this lesson is to help students have more options available to them when they feel trapped by their anger.

  9. Explain that a game "Blowing Off Steam" is now in order to lighten up a very difficult discussion:

    • Use a table or four desks pulled together
    • You will need the paper cup, grocery bag, and tape
    • Have 6-8 students sit around the table. Place the cup at one end of the table. Tape the grocery bag at the other end. On command, the group must attempt to blow the cup into the grocery bag with no physical touching-- only air power.
    • Have them do it several times, until they've worked out a technique to do it quickly, and with much less frustration.
    • When finished, ask them why they think this game was chosen. Ask them if they were frustrated at all and if so, how did they go beyond that feeling. Hopefully there's been a little laughter.
    • Settle the group down and explain that the next part of the workshop is to offer alternative ways of dealing with anger.

  10. Go back to the list on the board and highlight anger management techniques that students view as productive. Examples include: going into room and listening to music, separating yourself to a quiet place, talking to a friend or adult, talking in a calm way to the person you're angry with, going for a walk, talking to your dog, etc.

  11. Direct the class back to the video segment, which teaches something called the "I-Message." Explain that often we confront and accuse, rather than communicate, and all we accomplish is putting the other person on the defensive.

  12. Explain the "I-Message" in the following way, perhaps written on the blackboard or an easel:

    I feel ____________________________________________ (be specific)

    When you ________________________________________
    (give details of the behavior or circumstances)

    Because ___________________________________________
    (this is the hard one: the "why")

  13. Pair up students to do role-plays in front of the class using either real or fictitious disputes. Give each pair a little rehearsal time to define the dispute. Explain that this is only the beginning of a conversation. They should understand that when they're a little more clear of exactly why they're angry, the other person will also have a clearer picture.

V. Classroom Assessment:

Since this activity is primarily participation, teacher can grade according to her/him own personal accepted practices. A cognitive test could be developed, having students list information learned.

VI. Extensions and Adaptations:

VII. Online Resources:

VIII. Relevant National Standards:

These are established by McREL at http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/docs/contents.html:


Behavioral Studies Life Skills

About the Author:
Toni Nagel-Smith
, a Social Worker, started her career at Bellevue Hospital "an embarrasing number of years ago." She currently teaches in Bedford, NY, where she designs and runs developmental, preventative programs that address the needs of a diverse high school community...giving her great joy and keeping her young.

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