Exerpted from YouthChg.com All-Time Favorite Lessons, permission granted to print once for use with students.
Learn to Think First: Become a Think-o-Matic
Goal: To systematically train students to always think before acting.
Materials: Chalkboard, chalk, stopwatch, one copy for each student of "Thinking First Really Works Cartoons", pens.
1. _ Inform the class that they will be learning about reducing impulsiveness by learning to always think first. Ask the students to describe incidents when they thought after acting and regretted not thinking first. Identify to the students that they will learn how to greatly reduce the frequency of those incidence.
_ Ask the students to name the kind of things they say to themselves when they do finally think about the action they took. Elicit answers such as "I wish I'd thought before I did this" and "I really wish I didn't end up in all this trouble." Write each phrase on the board then ask the class if thinking these thoughts after the action is non-productive. Assist the students to recognize that the productive time to consider these thoughts is prior to acting. Ask the students to modify the phrases to be positively phrased, and in the present tense so the phrases could be used pro-actively rather than reactively; for example, "I wish I'd thought before I did this" would become "Think about this before doing it." Ask each student to select a phrase that could best assist them to think before acting.
2. _ After each student has selected their phrase, ask them to memorize it. Inform the students that they will be participating in a contest that will help them to thoroughly memorize their phrase. Read aloud the instructions:
To help you learn your think first phrase as well as you know your own name or phone number, you compete in the Think-o-Matic Contest. The goal of the contest is to learn your phrase thoroughly and to be the person who can say their phrase the most number of times in 15 seconds.
When it is your turn, your instructor will say "go" and you should say your phrase as many times as you can before the instructor says "stop" after the 15 seconds have elapsed. The instructor will count the number of repetitions you say in that amount of time, and will write your total on the board. Each student should get three or more chances to become the top scoring Think-o-Matic.
3. _ Inform the students that they will practice applying their think first phrases to situations. Distribute copies of "Thinking First Really Works" and ask the students to find the first instance in each cartoon strip when thinking first could have worked. Inform the class that they must fill in the last cartoon strip with an actual situation they have recently faced, or are likely to face in the near future. When all the students have completed their sheet, review each student's effort with the class.
_ Ask the students to discuss how they could plan to actually use their think first phrases all the time. Review each student's plan with the class one at a time. Before completing the review with each student, ask the student to be re-timed on quickly saying their think first phrase. Ask the students to report back during the next class on their success using thinking before acting.
4. _ Review the major points of this lesson:
Thinking after acting is too late to allow you to consider your action.
Thinking prior to acting allows you to consider the action and avoid negative consequences you would otherwise face.
Knowing and using a think first phrase can protect you from surprising yourself with involvement in unwise activities.
Use your think first phrase constantly to maintain control, or else you will likely face the consequences of your ill-considered actions.
Thinking first really works.