Present your class with this hypothetical scenario:
On your way home from school tomorrow, you get hit by a speeding bus and are killed instantly. Ouch. Now that you’re no longer here to speak for yourself, others must plan your funeral and write your obituary. What should it say? In a few sentences, write down what you hope others would remember you by and what they would say about you.
Teacher tip: If you want to spice things up and have some fun, start this activity by instead having kids give YOU imagined scenarios for crazy ways they might die tomorrow, Final Destination style:
- Killed in a freak shaving accident
- Mauled by a pack of rabid skunks
- Trampled to death by a stampede of 5th-grade girls chasing after Justin Beiber.
Get them started with a couple of ideas, and you should be able to have a good laugh. My philosophy is that it’s best to laugh with your students every chance you get. It makes you seem less like a cyborg sent to bore them to death and more like an actual person.
You can either phrase this question as a homework assignment and then complete the activity the next day, or give them ten to fifteen minutes to create their pretend obituary in class. Either way you want them to put some serious thought into it.
Once your group is done creating their obituaries, ask if there are any volunteers who would like to read their answers to the class. (You might want to have your own prepared ahead of time, just in case your students are shy. Or simply have them turn in their papers and pick a few to read anonymously.) Once you’re through, have an open discussion of the following questions:
- What are you doing TODAY that would ensure this is actually how they would remember you? Be specific.
- How many of these things are conducive to bullying or accomplished through being cruel or by humiliating others?
- Would anyone be glad that you’re dead? Does anyone have a reason to despise you? If so, why, and what (if anything) could you do about it?
- As you thought about writing this obituary, did your thoughts revolve around superficial things like “watched the most TV” or “had the most Facebook friends,” or did your thoughts center more around things like the people you love and the accomplishments you’re proud of? What types of accomplishments are you most proud of?