Last spring, my 4th graders became overly focused on being cool and some of my 3rd graders started doing really...well..stupid things...because others told them to. I wanted to do a lesson on peer pressure but needed something that was elementary appropriate and had nothing to do with substances. Something about staying true to yourself. And something that wasn't about accepting yourself for being different.
I found an unlikely winner in the book Sorry! by, of course, Trudy Ludwig. As I mentioned here, the book certainly does discuss genuine vs. disingenuous apologies, but the real focus is on staying true to who you are. The book is rich with discussion topics.
One activity I use after reading this book is Quiz, Quiz, Trade with discussion questions about the book and theme. I did this with my 3rd graders because it was a better fit with their abilities than the silent talk activity below.
The other activity I use is what I call "silent talk" but others have called "chalk talk". I explain to the students that they are going to discuss the story...silently. Most are able to guess we'll be writing. I put 5-6 discussion questions on sticky chart paper and post them around the room. The idea is that after answering each question, they will continue to walk around the room and read each other's responses and add comments, ask questions, use symbols, etc. I project some ideas of ways that they can interact with one anothers' responses. I usually have to model this and remind them as we go, because they all get hyper focused with just answering all of the questions.
With about 10ish minutes left, I stop them, gather the question sheets, and we circle up on the floor. I go through each question and share what I notice about their responses and they share what they've noticed.
*In the past, I did this lesson after this sort of thing had already become an issue. This year, something similar started to pop up earlier than usual in one of the homerooms so I went ahead and moved this up in the curriculum map. It made the lesson more reinforcing (of their still strong beliefs in staying true to themselves and being kind) and preventative than in the past. I haven't decided yet if I think this is the right timing or if I should have waited. Time will tell!*