Relationships Classroom Exercises
REALITY AVENUE “Relationships: What is REAL Love?”
Each Reality Avenue program has a set of Follow-Up Discussion Prompters, Classroom Activities & Assignments that have been created with corresponding Sunshine State Standards. They are designed to be used by school staff following the viewing of that specific program. To view the Reality Avenue program, “Relationships: What is REAL Love?”, please click here. The exercises are divided into Elementary, Middle and High School. Some of the exercises are designed to create discussion; some are for small group dynamics or homework exercises, and others might best be suited for individual lesson plans. While all of the exercises ascertain whether the information being taught is being received, some are more abstract and reflective in nature. It is for the teacher to decide what is most appropriate for their needs and the needs of their students.
Follow-up Discussion Questions
Questions can be utilized as a resource for an interactive teacher driven activity or as a prompter for written assignments. Classroom ground rules for the discussion should be set, if not already, for confidentiality (no names – “I know someone who…”), respect (all ideas accepted), what is said in the class stays in the class, we all get a chance to talk, keep an open mind, etc.
- What is REAL love? How do you know when it’s not just “puppy love”?
- Complete this sentence, “Real love is…”
- Why are love and relationships important?
- Does the quality of a love or relationship change with age? Maturity factor? Why or why not? And if so, how?
- What does healthy love (a good relationship) look like, sound like, feel like…?
- What does unhealthy love (a bad relationship) look like, sound like, feel like…?
- How should people treat you? How should it vary based on the type of relationship you have with the person (husband, father, teacher, brother, boyfriend, etc.)? What ways of being treated should remain the same in all relationships and which relationships allow a different standard of being treated and why?
- Are the qualities of a healthy or unhealthy (good or bad) relationship different for a friendship vs. romantic relationship?
- How do you know when you have a problem in a relationship or are in a bad relationship? Are there warning signs that you may be in an unhealthy relationship or headed toward a violent relationship?
- How can you help your friend if you are afraid they are in an unhealthy relationship? When is it time to get help? Who and where could you access help?
- How can we help to prevent bad relationships and create good ones? List some “Do’s and Don’ts”.
- If you fear you need help or intervention in a relationship you are in, what can you do? When is it time to get help? Who and where could you access help?
- What role does parent role modeling play in the relationships we choose? What have you learned that you want to emulate and what do you want to do differently?
- What type of relationship do you want for yourself? What would it look like, sound like, feel like…? If you have not seen that type of relationship before, where might you find role models for this type of relationship?
- If you don’t treat yourself well and love yourself, can you love another in a healthy way? How could you get help or help yourself to learn to love yourself and treat yourself well so you can have the type of relationships you want?
Classroom Activities or Assignments
(for middle and high school students)
Exercise #1: De-Myth-Stifying Relationship Abuse
There are a number of myths surrounding relational violence – whether domestic violence or dating violence and having a strong base of knowledge regarding them can be very useful when dealing with misinformation that might have been learned at home, the media or from an abuser. Below please find seven myths surrounding relational violence. Take one of these myths and explore the truth surrounding it. Have each student choose a MYTH and create a report as to the TRUTH of relational violence. In this report, each student will De-Myth-Stify the erroneous belief, detailing the research that supports the truth/facts as well as sharing any anecdotal tales or personal experiences that may provide personalized support.
1) MYTH: Abuse can be “caused” by something someone else does, or it is an “accident”.
TRUTH: Abuse does not happen because someone was stressed-out, drinking, or using drugs. Abuse is an intentional act that one person uses in a relationship to control the other and nothing we do cause someone else’s behavior. The abuser holds totally responsibility for their actions.
2) MYTH: If I ignore abuse, or do better, it won’t happen again.
TRUTH: Relational violence is a cycle and it doesn’t get better, it almost always gets worse over time.
3) MYTH: If I stay, I am protecting the children, pets, etc.
TRUTH: Anyone who is in a violent home is suffering violence and being harmed – even by witnessing it. Note: one of the greatest correlations police have found is between animal abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. If one is occurring in the home, chances are very good that another is as well.
4) MYTH: Relational violence is normal and no big deal, sometimes a person just needs a “good smack”.
TRUTH: This is a myth perpetuated by many who have learned this behavior at home – they want to “normalize” their actions so they don’t have to take responsibility, change, or feel guilty. This is exacerbated by the impact of media (MTV, movies, shock radio, hate websites) and celebrities (actors, actress, rappers, athletes) who are in known abusive relationships.
5) MYTH: Women cannot abuse men; only a weak man gets abused.
TRUTH: Relational violence is a process, not a gender and male abuse is highly under-reported. Learned helplessness is something that can happen in early childhood and be very hard to overcome. Because of the stigma, men will often stay and endure the abuse, rather than have others know of their shame. This makes it much harder for us to spot, and makes them much less likely to seek or receive help.
6) MYTH: Intensity of emotion = LOVE; jealousy and possessiveness means he REALLY likes you.
TRUTH: Real love feels good and is calm, not a roller coaster. With real love, your partner has YOUR best interests at heart and wants you to feel happy, safe and secure. Jealousy and possessiveness means the person wants to own and control you, you are more a thing to that person and he/she does not care about YOU. It is disrespect, it is violence and it will get worse.
7) MYTH: If the victim stays, she/he must love the abuser and want the abuse.
TRUTH: One of the most common and hurtful questions asked by those who care about victims is, “why is she staying in that abusive relationships?!” The pain and frustration many of us feel over the abuse turns into anger directed at the victim. It’s called blaming the victim and it is especially prevalent with today’s youth and media. Learning and teaching the cycle of abuse can help, click on this link and read the Cycle of Violence . This demonstrates what the abuser and victim experience, helping us get a better understanding of why victims stay. As you take a closer look at the Cycle of Violence diagram, you will also notice that both people are in denial. Add to that, the abuse dynamic of Power and Control and this might help you teach your students the vicious cycle in which victims feel trapped.
Exercise #2: Relationship Roadmap
OBJECTIVE: Create a road map to healthy relationships.
PROCESS: To get where you want to go, you must know how to get there. What kind of relationship do you want to have? How will you get there? Create a road map to help you reach your desired relationship destination. Make sure to include any obstacles or barriers you may come across, may have to traverse or ford through to reach your goal (crossroads, stop signs, yield signs, green lights, red lights, yellow caution lights, hills, valleys, rivers, boundaries, states, etc.). Make sure to create a corresponding legend for your map to help viewers understand your map’s topography, symbols and colors.
- Create a Relationship Road Map.
- Use a healthy and unhealthy relationship characteristics checklist to stay on task while creating the map.
- Understand and use map legends, symbols and topography.
- Display the Relationship Road Map to the class and present its corresponding ideas and directions to reach the healthy relationship destination.
MATERIALS: As a teacher you may choose to vary the materials you want your class to use. You may request they use their imagination and the result can be three dimensional, flat, black and white or colorful. You may alternatively choose to have the students use this lesson to expand their knowledge of technology by use of electronic media.
Exercise #3: Compare and Contrast
OBJECTIVE: It can be very challenging to understand what makes healthy versus unhealthy relationships. Relationships are not black and white and can have many grey areas. This lesson focuses on identifying and analyzing through comparison and contrast and the use of the Venn Diagram, healthy versus unhealthy relationships.
PROCESS: Students will…
- Be introduced to the terms compare and contrast and participate in class discussions.
- Be asked to find similarities and differences between two common items – healthy and unhealthy relationships.
- Work collaboratively in small groups as they begin the process of comparing and contrasting relationships with the assistance of the information received from viewing the Reality Avenue program, “Relationships: What is REAL Love?”.
- Demonstrate understanding of the compare and contrast strategy by visually representing information in a Venn diagram.
- Create a Venn Diagram by drawing two overlapping circles. The outer circles are intended for contrasting information; that is, the ideas and facts that are different about healthy versus unhealthy relationships. The middle area where the circles overlap is reserved for the ideas and facts that the two items have in common. Label one outer circle of your Venn diagram Healthy Relationships the other outer circle Unhealthy Relationships, and the overlapping circle both.
- When all Venn diagrams have been completed, have each group share their diagram with the class. Ask the other groups if they heard a comparison or contrast that they had not included on their own Venn diagram. Permit students to add any new comparisons or contrasts to their own Venn diagrams
One Step Further: This exercise can be taken further by…
- Having students utilize their Venn Diagram to plan and execute an essay about the similarities and differences between healthy and unhealthily relationships.
- Having students work individually instead of working in groups. They can utilize their own ideas and/or interview others to help in the creation of their Venn Diagram and/or essay.