Estimated Time of Completion: Two 45-minute class periods;
or one 45-minute class period plus one 30-minute training workshop
III. Materials Needed
V. Classroom Assessment
VI. Extensions and Adaptations
VII. Online Resources
VIII. Relevant National Standards
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.
- To help students see that conflict can become a positive situation
- To help students widen their vocabularies in reference to emotions
- To enable students to describe anger and its effects on them
- To transition students from inappropriate action when angry to more constructive behavior
- To give students options with which they can cope with their anger
- To give students communication tools to aid them in relationships
III. Materials Needed:
- Option 1: The PBS In the Mix video: "School Violence: Answers From The Inside"
Option 2: Access to a computer connected to the Internet and installed with RealPlayer, for viewing the "Learning How To Express-- Not Explode" video clip online.
- Paper cup, grocery bag, and tape
- 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.
- Explain that today, the topic will be what happens when people get angry, and what they do as well as not do.
- 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.?
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
(this is the hard one: the "why")
- 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:
- Teachers and students must be aware that an anger management class takes many sessions. It would include an in-depth understanding of where an individual's anger comes from and a commitment, whether imposed or voluntary, to change behavior. Recognize that the above activities and the other options listed below are giving students only beginner's tools toward anger management. If you are concerned about a student, please refer them to the appropriate mental health professional in your building.
- Other topics for discussion:
- What is compromise?
- When are you truly happy with compromise? What's the recipe? Must the other person lose, so I can win?
- When someone apologizes, do you accept it?
- Teach relaxation techniques, which are excellent tools for dealing with anxiety and anger:
- Deep Breathing
- Tense and Release various muscles. Example: clench fist and tighten entire arm, then let drop relaxed
- Visualize a quiet place
- Have the class make a video showing good/bad communication when angry.
- Focus a class on basic communications skills, such as active listening and reflection.
- Teach the concept of self-talk and rehearsing. Standing in front of a mirror, or with a disconnected phone in your hand, is a great time for students to formulate a good I-Message.
- Plan an anthropological study on how various cultures handle conflict and anger.
- Bundle this lesson with the lesson on "Peer Mediation".
- Role play lots of beginning phrases that students can use when they need to approach someone. Examples include: "I have something I'd like to talk about" or "Can I talk to you about something?". Talk about how nerve-racking it is to approach someone when there's a problem. Then discuss the when's, where's and how's of a bad approach. Examples: Yelling down the hall that you want to talk to someone, or approaching someone when they're with a lot of their friends, etc.
VII. Online Resources:
- PBS In the Mix - "School Violence: Answers from The Inside"
- Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence
- North Carolina Center for the Prevention of School Violence
- National Urban League - Stop the Violence Clearinghouse
- Alaska Comprehensive Regional Assistance Center
VIII. Relevant National Standards:
These are established by McREL at http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/docs/contents.html:
- Knows how to maintain mental and emotional health
- Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions
- Thinking And Reasoning: Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques
- Working With Others: Uses conflict-resolution techniques
- Working With Others: Displays effective interpersonal communication 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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