SGORR’s first classroom visit builds a foundation of human relations with the themes of trust, risk, and support. Elementary students participate in hands-on activities such as the “Trust Fall” to discuss the importance of group support and responsible risk-taking. During the activity, students divide into small groups and stand in a relatively tight circle with one member on the inside. The person on the inside of the circle relaxes and closes her eyes, crossing her arms across the chest. The risk-taker then allows herself to gently fall backwards, trusting the group to support her as her momentum carries her off-balance. When all students have had a chance to experience falling, the small groups discuss the feelings of the students both on the inside and the outside of the circle, delving into the topics of emotional risk-taking, the development of trust, and the importance of group support.
An alternate activity to discuss trust, risk, and support is “Step into the Circle”. In this large group activity, participants stand silently in a large circle. The SGORR facilitators read a list of statements, instructing students to take one step into the center of the circle when an applicable statement is read. Statements range from “Step into the circle if you have ever lost trust in a friend,” to “Step into the circle if you have ever regretted being a bystander to bullying,” allowing students to risk at their own levels and silently acknowledge relevant issues affecting the classroom in a safe space.
The second classroom visit builds on the foundation from day one to empower students to make healthy choices through a greater understanding of the connections between peer pressure, self-image, and behavior. SGORR students teach these concepts in the context of the Success Cycle, encouraging students to recognize that choices change the cycle. Because change in one area will lead to change in all the others, students are in charge of their own success.
The Silent Story is an essential activity in SGORR’s day two. Silent Story is a story told by pictures on flashcards. In the story, a circle reaches out to, but is rejected by, a group of triangles. When the circle changes himself into a triangle, he returns to the group of triangles, only to find that they have all become circles. SGORR members connect the story to experiences from their own lives and lead a discussion on the effects of peer pressure, particularly concerning issues of bullying.
In SGORR’s final visit, students learn the Creative Problem Solving Technique (CPST), a method of collaboratively solving problems in groups. SGORR members first teach the six-step approach in a large group, using a personal example to reinforce the concepts. Then, students work in small groups to solve a fictional mystery, using CPST to determine not only the problem at hand, but to create a viable action plan to solve that problem that takes possible roadblocks into account.
Finally, SGORR encourages students to truly listen to and appreciate one another when discussing and solving problems in groups by deferring judgment and validating one another. “Take A Stand” is a flagship SGORR activity in which students respond to a series of statements, demonstrating their level of agreement with the statement by walking to designated sides of the room for “agree” or “disagree”. Some statements SGORR members use in the classroom include “One person can change the world,” and “Race matters in how well you do in school.” SGORR members then lead a discussion about each statement, allowing both sides of the debate to voice their opinions and enforcing SGORR’s safety guidelines for discussion to ensure that students defer judgment and listen to one another, even while in disagreement.