Grades 8 & 9

How I Am

This section has students look at how they act, feel, and think. Topics covered include self-esteem, social image, decision-making skills, and personal values (what is important to each student). The activities are designed to provide students with a chance to practice decision making and to empower them to make healthy choices.

Activity 7: Sending Signals

  • Skills: Building self-esteem/Understanding personal values
  • Suggested Time Consideration: 20 minutes
  • Rationale

    What’s important to an individual influences his or her decisions. This exercise is designed to help students understand what sorts of things they value and how they communicate that information to others. It will help them think about what image they want to portray.

  • Getting Started

    Share the digital activity link with students and tell them they’ll be making a list of things that are important to them. You may want to offer some examples (e.g., family, religion, a pet, sports, honesty, etc.). In other words, items of importance can be people, places, things, or even concepts.

    While there is no set amount of items, encourage students to come up with at least ten.

    Launch Activity

    After students make their lists, they will be asked to write down ways in which they communicate or show others what is important to them. Again, you may want to offer some examples. A religious person, for instance, may wear a religious icon around his or her neck. An athlete may hang a poster of his or her favorite team in his or her locker. A person who values honesty may have a reputation for beginning sentences with, “I don’t know if you want to hear this, but to be honest with you…”

  • Talking About It

    In getting students to talk about what’s important to them and how they communicate that to others, encourage discussion about positive and negative ways of communicating values. Get them to discuss not only what they are communicating but how it is being received by the other person. For instance, one young man may put a great deal of importance on his role as a member of the school’s football team, but if he is conveying this to someone who tried out for the team but didn’t make it, he might make that person feel envious and resentful. You may want to role-play some of these. For instance:

    • Choose two students.
    • Give one a piece of paper on which you have written: “You have just been introduced to the person across from you. One of the most important members of your family is your pet dog, Oscar. You never tire of telling Oscar stories, and you decide to communicate Oscar’s importance in your life to this person.”
    • Give the other person a piece of paper on which you have written: “You have just been introduced to the person across from you. During the course of your conversation this person is going to communicate to you something that is important to him or her. Recently, your family had to put your 14-year-old family dog to sleep.”

    Have the class discuss this from two perspectives:

    1) There is nothing wrong with knowing what is important to you and communicating it to others; and
    2) This should be done with sensitivity.

  • Wrapping Up

    Ask students to volunteer answers to the question in the “You Decide!” section of the activity, which asks how being tobacco free reflects what’s important to them. Take the opportunity to encourage students to see that using tobacco does not reflect a positive image or healthy lifestyle. Ask students to give you examples of words and actions that do exhibit positive images and a healthy lifestyle. Write their ideas on chart paper and post it in the room as a reminder to students.