Step Up / Step Back

Amy Fields - 2018-2019 NET Fellowship
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  • Create Date June 10, 2019
  • Last Updated July 13, 2019

Step Up / Step Back

Created by

Amy Fields


Brief Description

Using a major conflict in a short story or novel, students negotiate a compromise between characters with opposing views as an alternative outcome to the story.


Learning Objectives

  • TLWDA to analyze and present a character’s standpoint on a conflict.
  • TLWDA to apply effective listening techniques to strengthen the relationship and communication.
  • TLWDA to converse orally in English.
  • TLWDA to negotiate a solution to a conflict between two individuals.


Lead-in / Preparation

Students need to have all read a particular short story or novel.


Estimated Class-Time Required

45 minutes (1 lesson)


Description of Activity

  1. Assign 2 specific characters with opposing points of view to each pair of students. For example, Hanna and Yumi OR Sadao and the General; Mr. Kelada and the Narrator; Meimei Jong and her mother, Lindo; George and Mr. Cattanzara; Laurie Saunders and Amy Smith
  2. Ask students to identify the nature of the conflict the 2 characters experience.
  3. Have them begin 10 paces away from one another and discuss the conflict.
  4. Each time they say something that improves the communication, the listener asks the speaker to take one step forward. Each time they say something that worsens the communication, the listener asks the speaker to take one step backwards.
  5. Present and encourage students to employ effective listening strategies using sample prompts listed below.
  6. Students must accurately represent the perspective of their character.
  7. Their goal is to negotiate a solution that is acceptable to both characters.


Key Vocabulary / Phrases

  1. REFRAMING: So, what you’re saying is…
  2. SUMMARIZING: So, your view of this whole situation is…
  3. CLARIFYING: Could you please explain more about…
  4. ELICITING: How does this affect your life?
  5. ENCOURAGING:   I see.
  6. EMPATHIZING: I can see why you see it that way.
  7. REFRAMING: Since we both value…let’s see if we can…



Debrief the activity with the students.  Ask questions such as the following:

  1. What statements/questions helped you move closer together?
  2. What statements/questions took you further apart?
  3. How did you feel when you were asked to move back/forward?
  4. Did you feel like you compromised your needs? Why or why not?
  5. Did your relationship improve or disintegrate? Why or why not?



The students will reflect on the activity and consolidate their learning through the debriefing process.


Attached Files

Step Up Step Back.pdfDownload