Put This Into Practice

Objective

Students will learn about their fellow students and discover ways to embrace the similarities between them, as well as the differences, by having students think outside the box.

Materials

  • Two large baskets or buckets
  • 3–5 sheets of white paper per student
  • A list of questions

Time Required

20–30 minutes

Procedure

  1. Hand out sheets of white paper to each student.
  2. Have the students crumple up the sheets of paper into small balls. The students can rip each sheet of paper in half to double the number of “snowballs” they have.
  3. Set up the two buckets in the front of the room.
  4. Ask the students yes/no questions, “would you rather” questions, or questions that only have two concrete answers (such as “Are you a dog person or a cat person?”).
  5. Designate one answer for each of the buckets/baskets. (The basket on the left is for people who prefer cats; the basket on the right is for people who prefer dogs.)
  6. Let the students throw one of their snowballs into the bin that corresponds to their answer. Students usually get excited as a flurry of paper balls go flying through the air.
  7. Collect all the snowballs from the buckets and throw them back to the students. (Students will have fun scurrying to get more snowballs!)
  8. Ask the students another question and repeat the process for as long as time allows.

Processing

Begin with much more innocuous questions like “Would you rather wear sandals or sneakers every day?” and gradually move to asking questions that make the students think about new ideas, such as “Would you rather be the oldest person in the room for the rest of your life or the youngest person?” Then proceed to more serious questions, such as “Should junk food be banned in school lunches and school vending machines?” This will help some of your students think outside the box and open up to their peers.

Keep in mind that how the students answer the questions can often be just as telling as what their answers are.

When the majority of your students answer one choice over the other, comment on how so many students have this in common. Invite the students to use this common ground to build relationships.

When the snowballs seem to be evenly divided, strike up a quick discussion. Give students an opportunity to defend both options.

If you see many students throw their snowballs right away, ask the students how they were so confident in their answers.

When you see the snowballs slowly come flying in, ask the students what they had to consider about their choices before making a decision.

Sample Questions

  • Would you rather lose the use of your arms or your legs?
  • Would you rather be famous in life but forgotten after you pass away, or unknown in life but remembered after you die?
  • Would you rather be stuck in shirts that are always two sizes too big or one size too small?
  • Would you rather live in the city or in the country?
  • How do you put on your socks and shoes: sock, sock, shoe, shoe; or sock, shoe, sock, shoe?
  • Do you like sushi?
  • Which is a better superpower: the ability to fly or the ability to become invisible?
  • Would you rather be poor with the love of your life, or rich and perpetually alone?
  • Which is more important to you: having air conditioning and heating or having internet?
  • Would you rather find a suitcase with $5 million inside or find your true love?

Kristina Vuong is director of student services, admissions, and tutoring at Socrates Preparatory School in Casselberry, FL.