Overcoming Obstacles

Lesson 4: Accessing Resources


  • Students will analyze the need for help with achieving their goals.

  • Students will identify resources in their community and ways to access available resources.


  • 15 paper plates (Part I)

  • Internet access (Part III)

Starter (3 minutes)

Say to students:

Imagine that you have finally asked someone you really like for a date, and they say yes. The date is Friday, and you can’t wait. You have tickets to the best concert of the year, and you just bought a great new shirt. On Friday, you get ready, but as you’re tying your favorite pair of shoes, the shoelace breaks. So you call your date and say, “I’m sorry, but I’ve run into a problem. My shoelace is broken. I don’t have a spare one, so we’ll have to cancel tonight.”

Ask students if this makes sense.

When students say that it doesn’t, lead them to understand that neither does giving up on any goal or plan just because they’ve hit an obstacle. Explain that when they are working toward their goals, there are many resources they can access to help them succeed.

Part I: Help! (10 minutes)

Purpose: Students learn that they may need help with achieving their goals.

1. Students participate in an activity.

Prior to class, arrange the desks so that there is an open space in the center of the classroom. Place 15 paper plates in a straight line across the floor, leaving about a foot of space between each plate.

Divide the class into two teams—team A and team B. Have each team line up at opposite ends of the line of paper plates. Explain to students that the goal is to have the teams switch positions by stepping only on the paper plates. Students who step off the plates must move to the back of their line and begin again.

Allow team A to move across the paper plates. Tell the second student on team A to begin moving across the line when the first student steps on the fifth plate. Tell the third student on team A to begin moving across the line when the second student steps on the fifth plate, and so on. Once team A has moved to the other side, have team B repeat the same process.

Ask students if it was easy or difficult to accomplish the goal. Ask students to explain their answers. (Students might respond: there was nothing to stop each person, it was a simple task.)

2. Students repeat the activity.

Tell students that they are going to repeat the activity. Tell them that the rules and the goal are the same, but you have added an obstacle. Explain that this time the first student on each team will begin at the same time. As teams attempt to switch positions, remind students that they are not competing with the other team and that those students waiting in line can make suggestions.

3. Students discuss the activity.

Ask students to explain if it was easier or more difficult to accomplish the goal the second time. Ask them to tell how they solved the problem or how they think they might solve it if given another chance. (Students might respond: one person can squat down while the other steps over them, students can slide on the plates by supporting each other’s balance until they have switched places.)

Ask students if the teams could have switched positions without communicating with each other. Ask students to suggest how this activity might relate to the concept of goal achievement. Elicit from students that at times, it may seem as though others are working against them when they are trying to reach a goal. Tell students that, especially at those times, they should ask for help and work with others to discover ways to ensure that their goals are accomplished.

Part II: Inside or Outside? (15 minutes)

Purpose: Students analyze the need for help with achieving their goals.

1. Students recognize the need for outside help.

Say to the class, “If I were to choose one of you and give you one minute to rearrange all of the furniture in the principal’s office, how would you do it?”

Discuss the situation with students. Remind them to use the steps of the decision making process: gather information, weigh options, make a choice, and take action.

Ask, “What information do you need to gather in order to solve the problem of rearranging all of the furniture in the principal’s office?” (Students might respond: what furniture there is to move, the weight of each piece, the location of electrical outlets.)

2. Students identify the need for outside resources.

Say to students, “As you gather information on the problem, does it lead you to the conclusion that you are going to need outside resources to complete the task in the one-minute time period?”

Ask students to suggest some of the resources that they could use to help rearrange the furniture. Encourage them to be as inventive as possible. (Students might respond: classmates, a custodian, equipment.) Explain to students that asking for help instead of giving up will reflect positively on them because it proves that they have perseverance. It shows that their goals are important to them. It also proves that they are aware of their own limitations but will not allow those limitations to stop them.

Part III: Accessing Resources (20 minutes)

Purpose: Students recognize how to access the resources in their community.

1. Students recognize that they can find resources to help them achieve their goals.

Tell students that they are going to discuss hypothetical situations in which a friend is having personal troubles. Have students brainstorm some fictional problems (e.g., the friend has a substance abuse problem, family difficulties, needs tutoring, etc.). Write the problems on the board.

Ask, “What can you do to help your friend?” Ask students to brainstorm places they would go to find help for the various problems that they identified. (Students might respond: school counselor, teacher, parents, drug hotline, youth center.)

2. Students recognize that there are many resources available to assist them.

Divide students into groups and instruct them to find as many resources online as possible that might help their friend in the situations they brainstormed.

When students have finished, allow each group to share its findings. Write responses on the board. Discuss how students can use the internet to locate resources for themselves.

Conclusion (2 minutes)

Ask students to list one goal they have and one corresponding resource from today’s lesson that might help them achieve that goal. Elicit from students the following key points that were taught in this lesson:

  • There will be times on your path to achieving your goals that will require you to ask for help.
  • When you encounter obstacles, access resources rather than giving up on your goals.
  • Your community has many resources to help you achieve your goals.

Student Assessment

  1. Describe a situation in which you needed someone else’s help. How did you go about getting that help?
  2. List three situations in which outside resources would be helpful.
  3. Describe one of your goals. List three resources that you can use to help you achieve this goal.

Extensions for Lesson 4: Accessing Resources

Using Quotations

“If you want to succeed, ask three old people for advice.” —Chinese proverb

Write the words “teacher,” “doctor,” “psychologist,” “social worker,” “librarian,” “adult relative,” “sibling,” “dentist,” and “clergy” on the board. Have students brainstorm the problems these people might be able to help them with.

Addressing Multiple Learning Styles

Remind students that a library has more than just books. Ask a librarian to show the resources a library offers, from computers to reference materials. Librarians themselves are also a great resource.

Have students discuss how they can use the library as a resource when trying to achieve a goal.

Writing in Your Journal

Have students revisit their lists from the previous journal-writing extension. Ask, “Were you able to accomplish everything on your list? How do you feel about it?” Have them make another list for tomorrow.

Using Technology

Introduce students to www.refdesk.com, which links users to over 1,000 other sites. Invite students to access a newspaper through the site.

Have students search the internet for resources that can help them achieve their goals. Have them share their findings with the class.


Ask students what they would do if they had a toothache, needed to find a dentist, and needed to get to the dentist’s office on their own after school.

Have students write all the steps needed to successfully complete this assignment, including ways to find a dentist, get to the office, pay the dentist, and get home. They should also list who will help them with each step.

Additional Resources

Have students visit Khan Academy at www.khanacademy.org. Khan Academy is a website containing a wide variety of free classes across a diverse number of categories.

Have students search Khan Academy for information. Ask them to identify how this site, and other sites like it, can help them achieve their academic goals.

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