Saturday, June 01, 2013

What is Your Reputation?

As school counselors, we know that springtime can be the most challenging time of the school year. As the weather heats up, so does the the student conflicts, mean behavior and  tempers. This is the perfect classroom lesson to do as the school year is winding down!

During late spring, this is one of the classroom lessons I do in all of my 4th grade classes. Read about the lesson below...

Materials Needed:
  • Colored pictures of famous cartoon characters. Best to print on cardstock or mount on cardstock and laminate
  • Cartoon Character fact slips.  Best if printed on or mounted on cardstock.  My fact sheets are mounted on a piece of cardstock that "folds" covering the facts.
  • Book: Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig

  1. I introduce the term "reputation" and solicit input on defining the term. I want to make sure that we focus on: the way others view/see you based on the way you act. We discuss the differences between a good reputation and a bad reputation.
  2. I have done this next activity one of two ways. 
    • Last year, I grouped together students into small groups. I gave them a picture of a cartoon character and each group discussed what the character's reputation is. Then we reconvened as a large group, each small group reported out, and then someone read the fact sheet to see how close the small group was in describing the character's reputation. This option takes a bit more time.
    • This year, I held one cartoon character up at time and the entire class discussed the reputation of the cartoon character. I asked students if the character's reputation ever changed. We discussed how that happened and which lead to a discussion on how changing a reputation requires a lot of work/determination because you have to PROVE you've changed.
  3. I then ask students what they would like to be known for. What is the reputation that you would like to carry with you? Ironically, in all of these years, I have yet to have a student state characteristics of wanting to have a "bad" reputation. But, I do find that when students who are having many conflicts or treating others unkindly are called upon to tell the class what they would like to be know for, students in the class begin to react. They may shake their heads, look directly at the students, make comments under their breath, look around the room, etc. I am very aware of these behaviors so I monitor closely and will specifically address any that I feel cross the line. This leads right into the next portion of the lesson.
  4. Here is where I refer to reported bully behaviors, mean behaviors, conflicts that I have been made aware of - in a general kind of way. I drive home the point that if he/she is someone who is _____________ (one of the examples), then he/she is creating their reputation right then and there.  If you are someone who _______________, then it is going to be difficult to change your reputation - you will have to prove yourself to others.
  5. I bring out the book, True Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig. I introduce the book by pointing out the title. I ask students what the title is telling us about the character in the story. I then tell students that the character in the story has really created a reputation for herself and she will tell us how that happened and how she changed it. 
  6. I begin to read the story and after the first sentence I pause. The first sentence states that she has been called to the Principal's office, AGAIN. It turn to the students and ask them if they are already creating a picture in their minds about the character's reputation. While the typical answer is a "bad reputation," someone in the bunch will respond, "Maybe she is going to the Principal's office for a good thing she did." So, I continue reading and that opinion is quickly changed.
  7. I never have enough time to finish the entire book. So, once I make it through the whole 4th grade with this lesson, I give the book to the classroom teacher to use in an upcoming class meeting. The teacher can finish reading this book, discuss further about bullying behavior, and how to build a reputation that they can be proud of!


  1. I really like all of Trudy Ludwig's books. I really like how you introduced reputation and tied it into preconceived ideas at the beginning of the book.

  2. I love your idea for teaching reputation. Which cartoon characters did you use for this lesson?

  3. This sounds like a great lesson! Do you recall what cartoon characters you used?

  4. I love this lesson! I am also curious which cartoon characters you used for your lesson and what kinds of facts you had on your fact sheet about each of them?