Monday, October 10, 2011

Conflict Resolution/Problem Solving

I've just completed my second rotation of classroom guidance and the topic was conflict resolution and problem solving. I usually do this lesson later on in the semester but after collaborating with some teachers and my co-counselor, it was determined that it would be more beneficial to do earlier in the year. Since I became a full time counselor six years ago, I've been implementing the program I'm about to describe and I absolutely LOVE it, it's developmentally appropriate, easy to understand, and can be implemented school wide. Teachers especially like it because it helps the students work to solve their own problems.

The program is called Kelso's Choices and comes with multiple posters, a DVD, a puppet, a storybook, curriculum manual, and a CD to print reproducible pages for distribution. It's a bit expensive but through collaborating with our generous PTO, they were able to purchase the program for us!

What it's all about: During the lesson we first discuss what conflict is and how since we're all different and unique- disagreements and problems come up from time to time and it's what you do to solve it that counts! Students are informed that they all have the skills to work through their own problems they just need to figure out what works best for them and that situation. All problems are broken down into two categories; small problems and big problems. Big problems are problems that involve safety (them or someone else getting physically hurt) or when two or more choices are unsuccessful at solving a small problem. The only solution for a big problem is to tell an adult they trust because the problem is too big for them to solve on their own. All other problems are considered small problems and they can try different strategies to work through it themselves before getting an adults help. During the lesson we watch the DVD that describes this in more details then afterwards have a discussion, do some role-playing of different scenario's, and discuss "I" messages for effective communication.

HIGHLIGHT for Teachers and Parents: When a student or child comes to you with a problem that doesn't involve safety ask them, "What did you do to try to solve the problem?" If they don't mention several strategies 'on the wheel' tell them to refer to the wheel to help them solve the problem. Encourage them that they have the ability to work through the problem and also tell them that if they still have the problem after trying several possible solutions to then let you know so you can brainstorm together to solve the problem.

All teachers were supplied with a copy of the wheel to post in their classroom, if you'd like an extra copy or would like to implement the program at home let me know and I'll get you a copy of the wheel!

HIGHLIGHT for Counselors: I often refer to 'the wheel' when I do individual and small group counseling. I have a poster displayed in my office and classroom for reference.

5th grade lesson:

I purchased a curriculum last year that I've used in individual counseling and have been excited to use in classroom guidance, after some brainstorming I adapted it for a 40 minute classroom guidance lesson for 5th graders and it went well! One of my favorite counseling writers is Diane Senn and you'll see me refer to her a lot here on the blog. Some of my counselor friends and I often refer to her by first name as if we know her personally or she's one of our dearest friends, we do that with a lot of others including Danielle (from school counselor blog) and 'the Julia's' (Julia Taylor and Julia Cook)....we get a good laugh out of it but what can I say- their stuff is good and we referred to them a lot.

Anyway, the book I used for this lesson was Coping with Conflict and I used it to create a "Timely Tools Box," it included laminated conflict resolution cards and "Timely Tools Conflict Cards." For the lesson, I distributed the resolution cards around the classroom and each student that had one stood up, showed it to the class, and read the description on the back (there were about 16 total). After all the possible solutions were shared and discussed the remaining students received a conflict card that they took turns reading. They then chose a possible solution they would use if they had that problem. This lesson was great because it gave ALL the students in the class an opportunity to participate. Students were encouraged to keep an open mind because how a classmate might solve a problem might be different from them. This was a great way for them to see all the different ways different problems could be solved!

To purchase these resources and to see other conflict resolution resouces click here.


  1. I'd love a copy of the wheel. My email address is Thanks! :)

  2. Hello Jcavender,

    The wheel is in the picture above. You can also obtain a copy of the curriculum/poster/wheel by visiting:

    Thanks for reading my blog and good luck in working on conflict resolution with your students.