I start the lesson on conflict with a whole-class discussion. I like this process as a precursor to the day's activity as it helps the students to create a common understanding of the concept. It also acts as a nice refresher for students regarding the specific terminology associated with this concept. I begin by asking the question: "What is conflict?" Many students have their hands shoot straight up. When I call on a few, I get variations of the same idea pretty much each and every time: "When people fight." I then challenge them to consider other ways that conflict can exist without fighting. Since we are only setting the stage, I only take a couple comments in order to preserve the time for where it is most needed: the planning portion.
After completing the anticipatory set, I introduce the task in full detail for the students to ensure each student feels confident as they embark on this journey. The task is for the students to collaborate in groups of 3-5 to plan, design, write, and perform a skit of 3-5 minutes that demonstrates a randomly assigned series of conflicts. I have the students work in their table groups for this, so as to ensure everyone is included and starts the process feeling equally valuable to the group's success. Each group will receive 3 terms relating to types of conflict by drawing them out of the Magic Bag (which the kids find quite funny as it is a simple paper bag with the words "MAGIC BAG" written in marker on it). I ask the students not to share their terms with other groups in order to maintain a certain element of surprise later when the presentations occur which makes them more fun and entertaining.
I talk through my own thought process when writing a skit that demonstrates conflict in order to give some students who struggle with creativity and confidence in this area a boost. I ask myself questions like, "What kind of setting could my skit take place in that would make sense for the types of conflict I selected?" "What kinds of characters can my group members and I be that would make sense?" "Should I be funny?" "Should I be serious?"
I then give them the rubric they will be graded with in order to clarify expectations and set them up for success.
At this point, I let go of the reins a bit and let the collaboration begin. Based on the concepts the students drew from the "Magic Bag," they begin a planning session to determine various ways they can demonstrate each situation and still have them make sense together in one, cohesive piece. I ask the students to use a Bubble Map to think of multiple ways to demonstrate each of the types of conflict they drew from the bag. Then, the students discuss their outcomes to see where ideas overlap or fit together. Once they agree on an overall concept using the Conflict Skit Planning Document, they call me over and we have a discussion. In this discussion, I have the students "pitch their proposal" to me. Based on the proposal, I give them approval or suggestions for refinement. If they are assigned refinement, they must "pitch their proposal" to me again. This is a really fun process for me to participate in because the students all have such unique ideas and approaches to this conversation with me. Some begin by asking me questions about what I prefer to see, or the types of skits I most enjoy. I appreciate this, but never answer. I want them to create, grow, and explore. If I tell them all my favorite things, they will only give me that. If that is the case, I never see anything fresh or new, and that I might enjoy even more.
My goal for the students in this first day is to get their concept approved and begin work on the script itself. This way, they are likely to complete everything in the allotted time.