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A lesson on Decision Making
Teaching of Social Studies – T350
October 6, 1997
Title: Scott’s Big Decision, A Look at the Decision Making Process
Grade Levels: 2/3
Length: 45 minutes
Performance Expectations: The students will define the problem, list alternatives, state criteria to consider, and evaluate alternatives in terms of chosen criteria, through a chart, then interpret the chart to arrive at a decision.
– a copy of Scott’s Birthday for each student
– a decision making grid for each student
Introduction: Pose a question to the students, “If you had to chose between a million dollars, a life time supply of ice cream, or one wish, which would you chose?” Allow the students time to think about this question, then ask a few students to share what they would pick and why. Then discuss how they arrived at that answer, what things did they consider when making their decision, etc. Explain that what they just did was called decision making and that they are now going to do an activity that involves their decision making skills.
1. Have each child read Scott’s Birthday (independently). Then ask the students to identify the problem.
2. Distribute the decision making grid to each student.
3. Explain that the first column contains pictures of all the pets Scott would like to have. Explain that these are his alternatives or choices (have the word alternatives be added to their vocabulary journals*). The first column includes a dog, cat, rabbit, turtle, and a bird.
4. Introduce the word criteria (also to be added to the vocabulary journal). Define criteria as things Scott must consider when selecting his pet. Explain the pictures across the top row represent Scott’s criteria. The picture of the ear reminds Scott that he needs a quiet pet because his grandmother does not like noise. The picture of Scott reminds him the pet will be his responsibility, so he would like it to be easy to care for. The picture of the ball reminds Scott that he wants a playful pet.
5. Explain how to fill in the chart, and model how to evaluate or test each alternative according to the criteria.
-Does the puppy meet the criterion of being a quiet pet? (since puppies bark and whine, they are not quiet pets. A frowning face should be drawn in the first box.)
-Does the puppy meet the criterion of being easy to care for? (puppies are not easy to care for since they must be housebroken and walked at least twice daily. A frowning face should be drawn in the box.)
-Does the puppy meet the criterion of playfulness? (Most students will agree that puppies are playful. A smiling face should be drawn in the box.)
6. Together of individually, continue this procedure with all other alternatives.
7. Explain Scott should try to choose a pet which meets as many criteria as possible and has the most smiles on the chart.
-What would have been Scott’s second choice? (There is a tie for second place between the rabbit and the turtle.)
-What did Scott give up when he made his decision to get the kitten? (Scott gave up either the rabbit or the turtle but not both because he could not have two pets.)
Review with students the five steps in the decision making model: define the problem, list alternatives, state criteria, evaluate (test) alternatives, and make a decision. Have children share some big decisions they have made and if they follow the five steps to make the decision. The students could even be assigned other situations in which a decision needs to be made in which they form their own chart and share the process they went through with the class.
The children, as mentioned above, could be given situations in which they would have to formulate their own chart and make a decision. The charts that were completed in this lesson could be collected and checked. The students could also be urged to use the five step process in everyday classroom situations to practice personal and social decision making.
The chart should be kept for the portfolio, as well as any other charts completed as part of the extension activity listed above. The students could use any situation in which they feel an important decision had to be made in which they considered some criterion (through this the children should be able to understand this process by using something in which they can relate to and understand or have experienced).
Coulson, E. & McCorkle, S. (1992). Economics for the elementary classroom. St. Louis, MO: SPEC Publishers, Inc. 18-22.
Katie Trzeciak (1997)
*vocabulary journals: I would have the children keep a journal of all their vocabulary words that would be added to periodically throughout the year so at the end of the year they would have a little dictionary of all the words they had learned that year.
Scott woke up feeling very excited. He hadn’t slept well because he knew today, Tuesday, April 13, would be a big day in his life. How could anyone sleep when something wonderful was going to happen?
Today, April 13, is Scott’s birthday. He had waited 365 days for this day! What presents would he be getting? Would he get all the things he wanted? The one thing he wanted more than anything else was a pet. They told him having a pet is a lot of work. They didn’t think he could handle the responsibility. But Scott had asked for a pet each year anyway. And each year his parents had said, ” You’re not old enough yet, Scott.” Well, perhaps all the other presents would make up for not getting a pet.
When Scott’s mom, dad, and grandmother woke up on Tuesday morning, they wished him a happy birthday. But there were no presents waiting for him on the kitchen table. There was only a white envelope. He knew it was a birthday card. He tried hard not to act disappointed. He opened the envelope. Just as he had expected, it was a birthday card. He read the card and the note his mother had written at the bottom.
There are no presents wrapped for you this year. Your dad, grandmother, and I have not bought you any presents. Instead, we decided to ask you what kind of pet you would most like to have. That will be your present this year.
Scott couldn’t believe it! At last he was old enough to have a pet. What kind of pet should he get? A puppy? A kitten? A bird? A turtle? A rabbit? He wanted all of them. How would he ever decide?
Luckily, Scott was smart for his age. He remembered to keep some important things in mind. He wanted a quiet pet because his grandmother was older and would prefer a quiet pet. He also wanted a pet that would be easy to care for. Last, but not least, Scott wanted a pet that would be fun to play with and become his friend.
Now that you know all of the things that are important to Scott , help him make a wise choice.