- What are the characteristics of a good citizen?
Honesty is the basic theme of good citizenship. A person must be honest with others, and with himself or herself, in order to be a good citizen.
Compassion is the emotion of caring for people and for other living things. Compassion gives a person an emotional bond with his or her world. Respect is directed toward inanimate things or ideas as well as toward people. For example, people should have respect for laws. Responsibilityincludes both private and personal responsibility. Responsibility is about action. Finally, the theme of courage is important to good citizenship. Courage enables people to do the right thing even when it’s unpopular, difficult, or dangerous.
What is a good citizen?
Review the qualities of good citizenship with the students.
Have students brainstorm about the different people within the community who are representative of these qualities.
Have them interview these people to find out more about what these people have done to show each of these qualities.
Create a showcase of community people using pictures or drawings to represent the people and their accomplishments.
Have students think again about people they know who represent the qualities of honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage. They can use the people they interviewed as examples of these qualities.
Engage in role play to help students see how these qualities are important in real-life situations.
Talk through each of the following situations with the students. Suggest some ways that they could set up their role play situation. Let students chose which scenarios they will role play. Provide adequate time for preparing the role play and then have them present their skit to the class.
- For last night’s homework, you were supposed to read a story and be ready to tell it to the class today in your own words. You didn’t read a story last night because you were having too much fun playing video games. You figured you could remember an old story. When your teacher calls on you, you are suddenly nervous and can’t remember any stories at all. What should you do?
- A teenage neighbor is responsible for you while your parents go to a movie. Your neighbor wears a hearing aid because he is partially deaf. Tonight, he tells you, his hearing aid isn’t working very well. The telephone rings, but your neighbor doesn’t hear it, so your parents’ answering machine takes a message. When your neighbor isn’t watching, you play the message back. The message is from your parents. They had forgotten to tell your neighbor your bedtime. You realize you can get away with staying up later. When your parents find out, they’ll blame your neighbor for not getting the message. What thoughts go through your head? What do you do?
- You’re at a school picnic and there’s a long line for buying cold drinks. You’re really thirsty. You see a friend of yours way ahead of you in line. Should you ask your friend if you can cut in line? How is the idea of respect for others connected to this situation? How do others in line feel when somebody cuts in line?
- You borrow a great book from your classroom. It’s a lot of fun to read. By accident, you spill chocolate milk on the book. It’s a mess. You take the book out of your book bag as soon as you get to your classroom. The teacher is busy. You could just take the book back to the shelf and leave it there. What should you do? Why?
- You are in a dodge-ball game. One kid is throwing the ball too hard. A couple of kids have already quit the game, but most don’t want to because they think quitting would make them seem weak. What do you do? If you say something, what do you say and to whom do you say it?
Check for Understanding
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- With a partner: Discuss each of the scenarios to identify the quality of good citizenship important to each one (honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, courage, etc.).
- Each partner should select one of the scenarios and describe to your partner what you would have done in that situation.
Connections to Literature
- Lead a classroom discussion on citizenship based on literature.
- Read aloud a book, or portion of a book, about citizenship. Then use these additional resources to help identify books having characters who demonstrate the traits of good citizenship.
- Discuss the characters in the books to find out how they exhibit the traits of good citizenship.
- Have the students use the chart to record their information.
Character From the Book
How does the character model the traits of a good citizen?
Application to Real Life
Honesty, compassion, and respect are also important as we interact with our friends. For example, ask the students what they would do in the following situations:
- Imagine that a friend is going to do a comedy act in a talent contest. He tells you the jokes from the act. The jokes are awful. Do you tell him? If so, how do you say it?
- You find out that a friend had no time to study for a test because she had to help around the house when her mother was sick. So your friend cheats on the test. What do you say to her? What do you do? Do you tell the teacher?
- Imagine that you live near an elderly couple. Two or three of your friends are visiting you and they see the two old people. Your friends start making fun of the elderly people behind their backs. What, if anything, do you say to your friends? What might happen if your neighbors overhear what is going on?
Check for Understanding
- Why would it take courage and a sense of responsibility to do the “right thing” in each of the situations discussed in class (comedy act, cheating, teasing elderly neighbor)?