Subject Areas:
Secondary Civics, American History, Sociology, and Communication Arts

Assessment Suggestions
Extension Activities

National Standards

Student Handouts


Students will learn about the art of negotiation and problem-solving strategies. Once they have this information, students will use what they have learned to solve problems that relate to school, U.S., and world issues.

Student will view "Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey" in its entirety or using selected portions if time is limited. In addition students should use the companion website, particularly the section titled "Bunche the Peacemaker". Students can also refer to the websites below for additional relevant information. Students will also need chart paper and markers. Finally, students will need access to online and library research materials.

Nobel E-Museum
The Nobel Museum's biography of Bunche

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Biography of Bunche written for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation site

Howard University Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center
Biography from Howard University Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center

The Jewish Student Online Research Center (JSOURCE)

A letter for Bunche to the President of the Security Council-1949


1. Students should be placed into small groups as they enter the classroom. Each group should be supplied with 3 large sheets of chart paper and several markers.

2. Once students are settled, the teacher should explain to students that they will be working with their groups to brainstorm definitions for 3 words that will be important to the day's lessons. Establish the rules for brainstorming and group participation (i.e. one person in the group is the recorder, all others should contribute ideas in round robin fashion without commenting on ideas of others, group should discuss all ideas and come to consensus about the definitions for the three words, etc.).

3. Once brainstorming guidelines are established, have the recorders for each group record the three words below. A different sheet of paper should be used for each word.

                        Conflict             Negotiation             Compromise

4. After words are recorded, give students a set amount of time (2-3 minutes) to brainstorm all the ideas they can about the word conflict. Repeat this process for Negotiation and Compromise.

5. Once students have a list of words, phrases, and ideas that relate to each of the 3 words, they should begin the next step. They will need to work as a group to decide on a definition for each word. They cannot use a dictionary to devise the definition. All students in the group will need to agree with the definition for each word. At the bottom of the chart paper, each group should write its definition for each word. This process should take 10-15 minutes.

6. After all groups have finished, each group should choose a spokesperson to share the work done by the group. Those people who are not speaking should carry the large pieces of chart paper to the front of the room and hold them while the speaker shares the definitions the group came up with for each of the three words. When the group has finished presenting, their words and definitions should be posted in the room. This should continue until all groups have presented and posted their ideas. The teacher should then wrap up the activity by noting that the groups had differing definitions for the various words, but by using the brainstorming processes defined at the beginning of the lesson, they were able to complete the task.

7. With this activity completed, the teacher should point out that during the activity students had to use problem-solving skills to negotiate with one another in order to compromise and come up with definitions that were acceptable to all members of the group. Link this to the idea that what they have done is similar to what Ralph Bunche encountered regularly in his work. He was presented with a problem and had to solve it by negotiating compromises with all the people involved in the problem. Give several specific examples of Bunche's work such as his involvement in conflicts between the Arabs and Israel and his involvement in drafting procedures used by the United Nations, etc.

8. Students now have a basis to work from. They are thinking about the words Conflict, Negotiate, and Compromise. In addition, they have heard the name Ralph Bunche and will be interested in learning more about his work. The teacher can now introduce students to the film. If it can be viewed in its entirety, the teacher should begin showing it and stop at points where clarification and discussion warrant. Those who are pressed for time may choose to watch only the sections outlined below. Either way, the film should to stopped to discuss and clarify after important points are made.

9. Before viewing, students should be instructed to watch carefully for specific information about conflicts that Bunche assisted in mediating. In addition, the timeline section of the companion website should be accessed by students with the teacher pointing out significant dates and events. These could then be put on the blackboard or on a handout so students could be directed to them more easily as they view the film. Students should be encouraged to take notes as they view and when the groups stops to discuss various ideas. Below are time cues of several important ideas/events that relate to Bunche's mediation skills.

Beginning of film to 6:30: General overview information
27:00 to 32:00: information about doctoral work and A World Race

55:00 to 1:20:00: information about work with UNSCOP, assassination of
Bernadotte, Armistice signed by Egypt and Israel, winning of the Nobel Prize

1:27:00 to 1:47:00: Suez Canal Crisis, appointment at U.N.'s chief troubleshooter, Congo Crisis

1:53:00 to end of film: general overview and wrap-up

10. Once students have viewed the film and participated in some discussion throughout, the teacher should have students get back into their groups. Each group should be given another piece of chart paper and should make a chart similar to the one below.

Conflict                   Negotiation Techniques/Ideas                   Compromise




11. Using what they have recorded on their own notes, what they have seen in the film, and the discussion they participated in while viewing, student should work in their groups to complete the chart as it relates to Bunche. What were some of the conflicts he helped to mediate? How did he negotiate with the different groups? What compromises were finally reached in each situation? Give students 15-20 minutes to complete their charts. Encourage them to use as many details as possible when constructing the charts.

12. When all groups have completed their charts, they should use the procedure used in step 6 above, choosing a different speaker this time. After all groups have ;presented their charts, the teacher should review what he/she believes were the most important conflicts, negotiation techniques, and compromises that resulted from them.

13. Students are now ready to receive informal training on problem-solving techniques that can be used to successfully solve conflicts. The teacher should use the sample problem solving techniques worksheet and notes to teach this part of the lesson.

NOTE: Many school have mediation programs in place to assist with student conflicts. Teachers may want to refer to these programs and participants and allow their input in the form of a guest speaker or guest teacher. This would also be a great opportunity for students involved in these types of activities to help facilitate teaching the techniques to other students.

Once the group has gone through the sample problem-solving process, they are ready to practice the problem-solving procedures. The teacher can either generate a list of problems to be solved and assign them to groups, or the students can generate the list using group brainstorming procedures, a recorder, and random distribution of problems to groups. See step 15 for specifics on this procedure. If you are using a teacher created list, skip to step 16.

15. To assist students with generating a list of appropriate problems, have the class brainstorm as a large group. Two people should be selected as recorders. One will record the ideas of the group on the blackboard, the other will record the ideas on notebook paper. Students should be urged to think of conflicts they face at school, and in their community. In addition, they should try to include conflicts that affect their community, their state, the U.S. as a whole, and world problems that are gaining publicity at the time.

16. Once the problem list has been established, each group should be assigned the task of mediating the dispute using what they have learned in their training. Group members will need to take on various roles, one representing each side of the conflict, one acting as mediator, and one acting as recorder and presenter. Students should be given a set amount of time to solve the problem. When assigning problems to groups, try using school and community issues that affect them for the first problem solving activity.

17. When all groups have completed the first problem solving activity, the recorder/presenter should share the following information with the entire class:

What was the conflict?
What techniques were used during the mediation process?
What was the compromise that was reached by the group?

Once all groups have finished sharing with the class, students should complete the group problem solving evaluation sheet.

18. The next problem solving activity should involve students working in different groups. Because the conflict they must solve will be one coming from the list related to problems that affect their community, state, U.S., or world, they may not have first hand knowledge about the conflict. Therefore, students will need to have access to research materials such as those available online or in the school library. The teacher should assign groups and topics. Students must then do research to gather as much information as they can about the conflict. They should pool their resources and discuss the conflict as a small group. Then, as they did earlier, the group should divide up and establish roles. They should then attempt to solve the conflict using the methods they did in the previous exercise.

19. Students will probably have a much more difficult time solving this conflict because of the multiple points of view and the broader aspects of the topic. When students come forward to present their conflict, they may find they were unable to reach a compromise that was acceptable to all group members. This is fine. The idea is for students to see how difficult problem solving can be, particularly when the problem has a larger scope that just the students' own school or community.

20. To close the activity, the teacher should facilitate a discussion about the differences students encountered in problem solving and mediating as the problem became larger and involved more people. The teacher should also refer back to Bunche and the enormity of the conflicts he assisted with resolving. This will help students gain a better understanding and appreciation for his work.

Assessment Suggestions:

1. After students complete the conflict resolution activities, have them compare and contrast their two experiences in writing. They worked with two different problems and two different groups. They will want to discuss how the difference in the conflicts made the mediation process different. In addition, they will want to comment on how working with two different sets of people changed the mediation process as well. Finally, they may want to compare the overall effectiveness of both groups and discuss the reasons why one may have been more successful than another.

2. Students could create a written response to the activities that addresses the following questions.

- Why is learning conflict resolution/mediation skills important?
- How can these skills be used by you in your life right now?
- How do you believe these mediation/negotiation skills could benefit you in the future if you continue practicing them?

3. The students and teacher could work together to develop an evaluation form that students could use to rank their use of the mediation skills as well as their fellow group members' use of the skills. Students could then compare their evaluations of one another and see how others ranked them. This will allow students to see if others viewed their skills similarly to the way they thought they performed.

Extension Activities:
Students could use the techniques they have practiced in the exercises above to solve a classroom or school conflict. This would need to be agreed to by all parties involved and monitored by an adult who could uphold the compromise reached by the various groups. This would allow for real-world application of the conflict resolution techniques students had practiced.

2. Using computer software such as Microsoft Word, Publisher, Power Point, etc. students could create a flow chart that illustrates the problem solving processes they learned about in the conflict resolution activities they completed. These could be displayed in various places throughout the school to remind students to use the strategies rather than allowing conflicts to go unresolved or to erupt into more physical or threatening situations.

3. Students could create a dramatization of a conflict and a mediation session that could be shared with younger students (elementary or middle school). The students could then perform their program for these students and encourage them to use mediation techniques to solve problems rather than physical or other destructive means.

National Standards:

Behavioral Studies Standard and Benchmarks
Standard 4: Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions

Level 4 (Grade 9-12)

1. Understands that conflict between people or groups may arise from competition over ideas, resources, power, and/or status

2. Understands that social change, or the prospect of it, promotes conflict because social, economic, and political changes usually benefit some groups more than others (which is also true of the status quo)

3. Understands that conflicts are especially difficult to resolve in situations in which there are few choice and little room for compromise

Civics Standards: What is the relationship of the United States to other nations and to world affairs?
Standard 22: Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surround U.S. foreign policy

Level 4 (Grade 9-12)

1. Understands the significance of principal foreign policies and events in the Unites States' relations with the world (e.g. Monroe Doctrine, World Wars I and II, formation of the united Nations, Marshall Plan, NATO, Korean and Vietnam Wars, end of the Cold War)

9. Understands the current role of the United States in peacemaking and peacekeeping

Standard 11: Understands the role of the United States in establishing and maintaining principal international organizations (e.g. UN, UNICEF, GATT, NATO,OAS, World Bank, International Monetary Fund)

Historical Understanding Standard and Benchmarks
Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective

Level 4 (Grade 9-12)

1. Analyzes the values held by specific people who influenced history and the role their values played in influencing history

Language Arts Standard and Benchmarks: Viewing
Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

Level 4 (Grade 9-12)

1. Uses a range of strategies to interpret visual media (e.g., draws conclusions, makes generalizations, synthesizes materials viewed, refers to images or information in visual media to support point of view deconstructs media to determine the main idea)

2. Uses a variety of criteria (e.g., clarity, accuracy, effectiveness, bias, relevance of facts) to evaluate informational media (e.g., web sites, documentaries, news programs)

Language Arts Standard and Benchmarks: Listening and Speaking

Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

Level 4 (Grade 9-12)

2. Asks questions as a way to broaden and enrich classroom discussions

5. Makes formal presentations to the class (e.g., includes definitions for clarity; supports main ideas using anecdotes, examples, statistics, analogies, and other evidence; uses visual aids or technology, such as transparencies, slides, electronic media; cites information sources)

Thinking and Reasoning Standard and Benchmarks
Standard 5: Applied basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques

Level 4 (Grade 9-12)

1. Applies trouble-shooting strategies to complex real-world situations

2. Understands that trouble-shooting almost anything may require many-step branching logic

7. Provides summation of the effectiveness of problem-solving techniques

Working with Others Standard and Benchmarks
Standard 2: Uses conflict resolution techniques

Negotiating and Resolving Conflict Teacher Notes

When teaching negotiation and conflict resolution, there are a variety of models that can be followed. Below is one way to instruct students on the use of these techniques for this particular lesson.

1. For the sake of practice, students should be placed randomly in groups of 4.

2. Students should learn about the 3 different roles they may be asked to play in the conflict resolution:

Mediator: person responsible for moderating the dispute by asking questions, offering suggestions for compromise, and keeping challenger from arguing. This person also has the responsibility of following up with the challengers to be sure they are both meeting the criteria established in the compromise. The mediator's signature must appear on the final compromise. This person must be fair and impartial.

Recorder/Presenter: person responsible for completing the conflict resolution form and presenting the overall problem, negotiating strategies, and compromise to third parties not directly involved in the mediation process. This person is also responsible for making sure the mediator and the challengers sign the final compromise. This person must be accurate and ask questions to clarify information when necessary.

Challenger: person/group who is in conflict with another person/group. Responsibilities include describing the conflict as they see it, bringing up concerns about possible compromises, offering possible compromises, and agreeing to/signing the final compromise chosen by the mediation group.

3. Students should become familiar with the conflict resolution form (see attached).
Be sure to go over all parts of the form and give clear examples of the types of things that should be recorded in each area.

4. Students should learn the order of events to take place during a mediation. They are as follows:

A. Mediator will be sure recorder has a conflict resolution form

B. Mediator will ask both challengers to state their names and describe the specific conflict. The recorder will put this information on the conflict resolution form. During this time, the mediator will remind the challengers that they must remain silent while the other challenger is speaking.

C. Once the conflict has been described by both challengers, the mediator will look it over and write down a statement that clearly describes the conflict, including ideas presented by both challengers.

D. The mediator will then read his/her version of the conflict to the challengers. If they agree that is the conflict, the process moves on. If they do not agree, both can offer additional information to the mediator and he/she can rewrite the description of the conflict. This will continue until the conflict statement is clear.

E. Once the conflict statement is clear, the mediator will ask each challenger to offer suggestions for solving the conflict/compromise. The recorder should place these on the conflict resolution form. Neither challenger may comment while the other is speaking.

F. After each challenger offers a suggestion for compromising on the problem the other challenger may bring up concerns about this solution. These are recorded on the form.

G. Each challenger will address the concerns of the other with the mediator moderating the conversation, directing questions, etc.

H. Once all comments and questions have been posed, the mediator will ask each challenger to again offer their best compromise and they will be recorded.

I. Once these ideas are recorded, the mediator will write down what he/she sees as the best solution to the conflict, taking in to consideration the ideas and concerns of both sides. The mediator will record this compromise idea on the form and then share it with the challengers.

J. It is now up to the challengers to decide whether or not they can live within the guidelines of the compromise. If they can, they sign the compromise and agree to follow its guidelines. If they cannot meet the compromise guidelines, they are asked to list their objections to the compromise. Again, the mediator will moderate discussion and questions between the two sides. If changes are made to the suggested compromise, they will be recorded before the compromise is signed. If a compromise cannot be reached, a temporary truce is called and signed by both sides until further mediation can occur.

5. Students need to understand that they may not always reach a compromise that is acceptable. Failure to reach a compromise is not a defeat. It means more mediation is needed.

6. Once a mediation session ends, it is the job of the Recorder/Presenter to give an ;oral report about the mediation process. This is normally given to the supervising ;adult. For this lesson, it will be the job of the Recorder/Presenter to discuss the mediation with the group using the Conflict Resolution Form as a "notecard" for summarizing the events that took place including reviewing the conflict, the suggestions for resolving the conflict, and the final compromise that was reached by the group. If no compromise was reached, explain why objections each challenger had to the ideas that were presented.

7. It is important to stress to students that throughout the negotiation process it is the job of the mediator to enforce certain rules of conduct. They are as follows:

- only one person speaks at a time

- no interruptions

- no name-calling or putdowns

- challengers must answer, to the best of their ability, questions presented by the mediator and the other challenger

- a challenger leaving the negotiation table terminates the mediation

- a mediator can terminate negotiations if challengers do not follow

rules or heed warnings given regarding behavior

NOTE: If there are other classroom rules you wish to include in this section, be sure to go over them with the students before beginning the activities.

8. Stress the importance of completing the Group Problem Solving Evaluation Sheet accurately and honestly. The point of the lesson is to learn, practice, and improve on negotiating, problem solving, communication, and interpersonal skills.

Student Handouts

Click here to download these Documents as a PDF file (20K)

Negotiating and Resolving Conflict: Conflict Resolution Form

Name of Mediator:________________________________________________________

Name of Recorder/Presenter:________________________________________________

Date and Time of Mediation:________________________________________________

Name of Challenger A:_____________________________________________________

Description of Conflict:



Name of Challenger B:_____________________________________________________

Description of Conflict:



Mediator's Conflict Description:





Suggestions for Resolving Conflict

Challenger A: Challenger B:





Concerns About Suggested Conflict Resolutions

Challenger A: Challenger B:







Challenger A's best compromise idea:


Challenger B's best compromise idea:


Mediator's compromise to resolve conflict:





Agree or Disagree with Compromise: (circle appropriate response for each challenger)

Challenger A: Yes or No                   Challenger B: Yes or No

If all parties agree to accept and follow the specific ideas presented in the compromise, they should sign below.

Challenger A Signature:_________________________________________________

Challenger B Signature:_________________________________________________

Mediator's Signature:___________________________________________________

If either Challenger disagrees with the compromise plan, complete the section(s) below

Challenger A reason for disagreement (if No was marked):



Challenger B reason for disagreement (if No was marked)



Revised compromise suggestions

Challenger A:


Challenger B:


Mediator's Compromise to Solve Conflict (second attempt):




Agree or Disagree with Compromise: (circle appropriate response for each challenger)

Challenger A: Yes or No                   Challenger B: Yes or No

If all parties agree to accept and follow the specific ideas presented in the compromise, they should sign below.

Challenger A Signature:_________________________________________________

Challenger B Signature:_________________________________________________

Mediator's Signature:___________________________________________________

If parties still cannot agree on a compromise, they must agree to a temporary truce during which time they will not engage in any further contact until a second mediation session can be conducted.

We agree that a successful compromise could not be reached at this time. We understand that we will not discuss this matter in any way or act on this matter in any way until a second mediation session can be conducted.

Challenger A Signature:_________________________________________________

Challenger B Signature:_________________________________________________

Mediator's Signature:___________________________________________________

Negotiating and Resolving Conflict: Group Problem Solving Evaluation Sheet

Name:_____________________________________       Date:______________________

Directions: Answer the questions below based upon the experience you had with your

group. Be honest in your evaluation of strategies and their effectiveness.

Write the names of the people who played the roles below in your mediation exercise.

Mediator:__________________________ Recorder/Presenter:____________________

Challenger A:______________________ Challenger B:________________________

Write a short description of the conflict your group was faced with.



Answer the following questions based upon you group's experience.

1. Was your group able to reach a compromise? Explain why or why not.





2. Do you believe your group reached a fair compromise? Explain why or why not.





3. What other ideas did you have for a compromise that might have been successful

even though it was not used for the final solution?



4. What made your group successful? Give specific examples.





5. What made working in your group difficult? Give specific examples.






6. If you were given the opportunity to redo this mediation, what could be done

differently to make it more successful?





7. What did you learn about yourself from participating in this activity? Give

specific examples.





8. How can you apply what you practiced in this activity to real-life problems you

will encounter in school and away from school? Give specific examples.

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