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Teaching Guide

Teaching PBIS: Commitment

Committed Shmoop = committed students.


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We all know people who have commitment issues. Maybe they have a different definition of "being supportive" than you do, or they only seem to be available when you aren't, or they just stop showing up when things get tough. But reaching a goal takes commitment, whether it's graduating school, staring a new career, or simply reaching the season finale of True Detective. And we're committed to helping with that.

In this guide you will find

  • resources for emphasizing commitment, such as the Academy Award-winning documentary, Man on a Wire.
  • scripted lesson plans that address setting goals and sticking to them.
  • an activity where students raise an alien that crash-landed in their backyard. No old-school egg babies here.

Our teaching guide can help you iron out your students' commitment issues... but we can't promise that every single final project will be turned in by the deadline. Some things will never change.



Today's all about the skills needed to commit to school: chiefly, participation and playing well with others. Students will channel their inner Don Draper in a two-part group activity involving advertising. For homework, they'll dig deep and self-assess their commitment in the classroom.

Before you get started, here's a video you can show your class.

Key Skills and Learning Objectives

  • Being involved, active, and engaged.
  • Working together.
  • Supporting others and their ideas.
  • Trust.


  • Yesterday: Start thinking about commitment.
  • Today: Take a commitment self-inventory.


Materials Needed: Copies of the handout

Estimated Time to Complete: 50 minutes for Parts 1 and 2 combined

[Part I]

Woody Allen famously said, "80 percent of success is showing up." That sentiment holds true for commitment, too—especially when it comes to school. To be committed means to be involved, active, and engaged. Unless you're at Arkham Asylum; then it means something completely different.

Staying engaged is a lot easier when you can count on other people to have your back. Today, we're going to start with an activity that will challenge you to be engaged, involved, and creative; to think on your feet; and to play well with others. [Put students into groups of six to eight, either around a table or have them circle up their desks.]

Congratulations! You've all been promoted. You are no longer humble students, thirsty for knowledge; you are creative, cutthroat advertising executives. Today, you're going to brainstorm and pitch some awesome new products. Here's the catch, though: you don't know what they are; you're going to make them up on the fly.

One member of your group will volunteer to kick things off and make a descriptive statement about your fantastic new product. For example, they might say, "It's an incredible new way to get to school!" Then the rest of your group will respond like enthusiastic ad men and women by pounding your desktops with one fist and loudly proclaiming, "Yes! I like it!" The more blustery, the better. [The repetition of "Yes! I like it!" will help the group's momentum.] Don't be afraid to unleash your inner Don Draper.

After the first person makes their statement about the new product, the person to their left will add another statement about the product that builds off of the first one. For example, "It's a rocket-powered skateboard!" Everyone will respond with a fist pound and a "Yes! I like it!" Then the next person will add a statement. "It doesn't run on gasoline; it runs on Diet Dr. Pepper!" "Yes! I like it!" "It comes in three colors: nuclear waste green, earwax orange, and taupe!" "Yes! I like it!" And so on.

The object of this exercise is to keep your product description going for as long as you can. Not giving up is going to require you to get creative, to think quickly, to work together, and to trust and support your group members. [Take questions and begin the activity. If a group gets stuck for a starting sentence or lacks a brave volunteer, give them a starting sentence and then pick someone to go next. Otherwise, circulate throughout the classroom to check for any issues. If a question or a mistake is widespread, press the pause button on the class to address it with everyone.]

[Groups will definitely finish at different times, so keep an eye out for idling groups. When a group finishes up, pick a group member to kick off another product brainstorming session. There's no set number of products to pitch; generally, students have the stamina for this activity for roughly 10 minutes.]

[Wrap Part 1 up by letting all groups finish. Then debrief. Was it challenging to stick with the group's idea? What was difficult about it? What was fun about it? How many statements did your longest product pitch go? What about the shortest? Etc.]

[Part 2]

Now that you've conquered the fast-pace grind of the advertising boardroom, it's time for some quieter reflection and analysis. [Administer handouts and read directions aloud. Take questions. When students are done, encourage them to share their ideas.]


Tonight for homework, assess your personal awesomeness when it comes to commitment. No one knows you better than you do, right? [Administer handout and go over directions aloud. Take questions.]


  1. What are three ways you're committed to getting good grades?
  2. Think of a group project that you were assigned in the past. How did you commit to the group's goal? Was it difficult to stay committed? Did everybody pull his or her own weight? There's always that one dude, isn't there?
  3. What are three ways that teachers show their commitment to their students?
  4. Why is it important to participate in class?
  5. How can you personally make sure that everybody's voice is heard in class discussion?
  6. How can teachers make sure their students stay engaged and involved? Is that even the teacher's job, or is it the student's responsibility to look alive?
  7. How do you respond to other students' ideas in class discussions or group work?
  8. Think about a time when you wanted to give up in class or on an assignment, but didn't. How did you keep yourself going? (Good job on that, BTW.)
  9. When you or your classmates kick butt at school, is your academic excellence rewarded? How?
  10. What's a goal at school that you'd like to accomplish by the end of this school year? Be specific, please.