Teaching and learning responsibility is an important part of what takes place in an elementary classroom. Classroom activities that focus on responsibility can help elementary students to see the importance of doing their part, admitting when they are in the wrong, practicing self-control and maintaining good character. Role-playing activities, art and writing activities, discussion sessions and cooperative learning are among the many ways to creatively incorporate the theme of responsibility into your classroom.
The Good Character website lists six behaviors of a responsible person: following through, answering for your actions, taking charge of your affairs, being trustworthy, using good judgment and getting things done. You can set up role-play situations in your elementary classroom, using two or three students at a time, to explore any of these traits as a launching pad for an exploration into the meaning of responsibility. Come up with common scenarios that could take place at school or at home and have your students act out scenarios that demonstrate responsible behavior versus irresponsible behavior.
Art and Writing Activities
Art and writing activities can be the perfect opportunity to help elementary students explore their ideas about what being responsible actually means and looks like. Use graphic organizers like cluster maps, mind maps and Venn diagrams to encourage students to brainstorm and share their thoughts with the class. Have students draw, make collages, write poems and stories, and build mini-sculptures that reflect their feelings about the theme. Dance and music can also be great ways for students to express themselves.
Lively, teacher-facilitated classroom discussions that center on responsibility at home and school can really get your elementary students thinking about the meaning of the word. Create discussion questions that relate to a previously viewed video presentation or piece of literature and have students respond orally. Encourage students to share their thoughts and feelings openly as well as relate any personal experiences that they have had with regard to responsible behavior. This can be a perfect time to model active listening skills for your students as you listen to them speak.
Cooperative learning in the elementary classroom allows each student to participate in shared-responsibility tasks. Assign roles such as group facilitator, timekeeper, recorder and presenter and make it clear that the overall success of the group will depend upon how the students work together as a team. Each member will have to take responsibility for their own role if they want the team to achieve their goal. Cooperative learning groups work well for just about any elementary classroom subject.
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