Social Filter Lesson With "I Can't Believe You Said That"

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
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Social Filter lesson plan using "I can't believe you said that!" by Julia Cook

Our 4th grade Life Skills lessons continued with a lesson on using your social filter, a favorite topic of mine. We started with a chat on what a filter is; most of my students didn't know what this was. Those that did were able to tie it to a filter in fish tank. I asked them to guess how a filter might be related to THINKing before we speak. So many students were able to make this connection! My heart is always warmed in these moments.

"I can't believe you said that!" by Julia Cook book cover

Then we dive into the story. I use Julia Cook's I Can't Believe You Said That!: My Story about Using My Social Filter...or Not! (Best Me I Can Be!) (skipping the lengthy pages with the parents' rules/advice) and ask:

  • (Before reading): This book is about something called a social filter. What is a filter? What do you think this might have to do with THINK before you speak?
  • pg. 11: Do you think this consequence was fair? What consequence would you have given instead?
  •  pg. 13: RJ is confused. Why? What is he not understanding?
  • (After reading): How did RJ change during this story? Why do you think he chose to change?

Being Frank is another great book for this topic if that's easier for you to get your hands on.

The students then worked in small groups to read situations and thoughts and sort them into "Go ahead, say it out loud!", "Keep it in your head!", and  "Filter it! (Say it in a more polite and respectful way.") This was meant to be more of a reinforcement of the social filter concept, but I found there were moments where this was a challenge to the students, especially in finding ways to say unkind thoughts more respectfully. I have these cards for sale in my TPT shop.


Students engaged with sorting cards related to a  lesson plan on Social Filter.Students engaged with sorting cards related to a  lesson plan on Social Filter.


Once all the groups are done, we join together on the rug again. I read through each card and the student use hand motions to show me their responses. Whenever students indicated they'd filter it into something nicer, I asked them to share out on their idea.

Then I sent them back to their desks and gave each student a situation/thought card template and asked them to come up with their own example (and write their "answer") on the back. These were great! Not only did they come up with some good ideas, but this sort of an exit ticket gives me more material for future years' lessons.

Students created their own situation cards with their response as an exit ticket for the lesson plan on social filters

**Next year, I may use this as my intro lesson (or second lesson) on THINK. While it's somewhat specific to rude thoughts, I think it introduces the broader idea that we should think about things before we say them out loud.

***This went great in 4 out of my 5 homerooms. In my "roughest" room, this wasn't ideal- they laughed way too hard about all the rude comments in the book. While they grasped the concepts perfectly, this book almost seemed to feed into their inclinations to "burn" one another. I think this book may not be the best fit in a classroom where many of the students are already saying unkind things to/about others as a way to be funny - unless you think they'll respond to a brief discussion at the beginning about how the story can be humorous but they should remember how hurtful the words can be as well.

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