Purpose: Students weigh the positive and negative consequences of various alternatives.
1. Students are presented with a situation that requires a decision.
Distribute “The Gift” activity sheet to students.
Read aloud the following situation:
You have just won $2,000. You’ve wanted to buy a used car that a neighbor is selling. The last time you asked, the owner said she would sell the car for $1,995. You know what money you have saved and what you earn weekly.
On the chart, list the positives and negatives of buying the car.
2. Students analyze positive and negative consequences.
As students begin to fill out the positives and negatives on the activity sheet, prompt them with the following questions:
- Have you considered the cost of gas, maintenance, and insurance?
- Would you have to give up spending money on some things to pay for car expenses? How will you deal with this?
- How will your time be affected if you buy the car?
- Could car ownership affect your social life?
- Are there any consequences that might affect your family?
Ask students to share some of the positive and negative consequences that they listed. Allow students to add consequences that they find relevant.
Ask students to raise their hands if, after analyzing the positives and negatives, they will buy the car.
3. Students are confronted with unexpected consequences.
Say, “You’ve decided to buy the car. You tell a close friend that you’re getting wheels next Tuesday. Your friend says, ‘That’s great. I can’t wait to borrow it.’ What are the consequences of telling your friend that he can drive the car? What are the consequences of telling your friend he can’t drive the car?”
Give students a minute to fill in the positives and negatives of each choice in the second row.
When students have finished listing the consequences, say, “Something else has come up. When you tell your mom that you’re going to buy the car, she tells you that if you buy the car, you will have to pick up your brother at the elementary school and your sister at the middle school every day. Then, she adds that you can also help her take the groceries to your grandmother every Saturday morning. What are the positives and negatives here?”
4. Students learn that a decision can be revised when unexpected consequences appear.
Give students time to add the consequences in the third row. Then, have students discuss their responses. Ask if any of these unexpected consequences caused them to change their decision. Why?
Point out to students that decisions can be changed or revised when they have considered all the consequences, if a situation changes, or if more information becomes available. Explain that in this case, their decision affected not only themselves, but others around them (including friends and family).