Strategies for Empowering Students

  • To encourage students to use their knowledge
  • To promote cooperative learning
  • To encourage the integration of knowledge and creative thinking
  • To promote the students' understanding of the importance of looking beyond the physical qualities of things and people
  • To develop an understanding of and appreciation for people who may be different than we are

  • Integration of thinking, writing, and reading connection
  • Demonstration of application of affective attributes
  • Promotion of understanding cultural and ethnic difference

  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Arrange students in cooperative groups. They will use their experiences and knowledge as they address the following directions. The teacher will have a preselected group of objects or articles that has been placed in a bag. A member from each group will, without looking, select one object.

Each group member should examine the selected object for a few moments, then they will be instructed to:

1. Give your object/article one human quality.

2. Describe two ways in which your object is beautiful.

3. Think of three ways your object is or can be useful.

4. Give four reasons why you love and respect your object.

5. Give two ways in which you can enhance your object's self-esteem and make it feel valued and needed.

The groups should be given 15 to 30 minutes to complete the directions. Each group will then orally share their information, explaining what its object was and the process and rationale the group used in completing the instructions.

Follow-up discussion should concentrate on how the students were able to take an inanimate object and give it positive attributes. The discussion then should lead to some self-realizations and learning how they view other individuals and/or groups of people who may be different. Through such discussions students will hopefully conclude that everyone has some good qualities and characteristics if one takes the time to look for them.

Sample list of possible objects or articles:

    paper clip
    keys/key holder
    measuring spoon/cup
    pine cone
    roll of tape
    scrap of paper
    bottle cap
    paper napkin
    piece of candy

Read the quote by David Hume: "Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them."

  • Ask students to interpret the quotation using the activity they just completed with the inanimate objects as a foundation for their interpretation.

  • Have students do research in literature, history, or science to discover people who have had physical, mental, or emotional disabilities, but were still able to rise above their challenges and accomplish great things.

  • Have a discussion with the students and focus on others in your school or community who may be physically or mentally challenged.

  • Explain that students and adults who happen to be challenged in a special way are still people. They are human and therefore deserve the respect and consideration for their feelings just like everyone else.

  • Ask students to think of ways in which they can be more understanding and respectful and ways they can help their friends to be more considerate and sensitive to the feelings of others.

  • Have students conduct research on David Hume to determine if his quote reflects any incidents in his life, his beliefs, or his values.

  • How did students use their knowledge and thinking and inference skills?

  • How did students demonstrate their ability to analyze and synthesize information from all group members in the process of following the instructions?

  • In what ways did students demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for cultural, physical, and ethnic differences?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.