Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Exploring Personal Responsibility

Christy Carpenter
Bay District Schools


Students examine themselves to evaluate their own levels of personal and social responsibility.


The student knows how expanding abilities, independence, and responsibilities associated with maturation influence personal behavior.


-Song "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson and a method of playing it (computer or CD player.)
- Enough copies of the words to the song and the worksheet Man in the Mirror for your class.
-Chalkboard and/or overhead and markers
-Overhead How You Choose to Respond and Journal Entry (see associated file).


1. Obtain a copy of "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson.

2. Make a transparency of How You Choose to Respond and Journal Entry.

3. Make enough copies of the words to "Man in the Mirror" and the Man In The Mirror worksheet for your class.


1. As students enter the room, have the song, "Man in the Mirror" playing. (If on a CD, you can play it on your classroom computer.)

2. When class begins, group students and pass out the words to the song. Tell students that their group has to decide what the song means and relay this information in one sentence. After about 5 minutes, have each group share the conclusion. (You may want to play this song during the group activity to add to the atmosphere.) Students may have a hard time understanding the concept of the song. When everyone has shared his/her sentence, explain that this song is about Personal and Social responsibility. The man in the song is taking a look within himself, and he sees that he has been selfish, and has been ignoring the needs that he sees in his own community. He decides to change himself so that he can contribute to society.

3. Write Personal Responsibility and Socail Responsibility on the board or overhead. Ask students to define each. If they have trouble, have a student refer to the dictionary for the definition of each individual word, then come to a conclusion about the definition of the phrase as a class. (Personal responsibility should be defined as the ability to make choices about our own well-being and to answer for those choices. Social responsibility should be defined as caring about others and using our abilities to contribute to the world around us -being caretakers of our own community.)

4. Show the overhead How You Choose to Respond. Discuss the fact that your own choices guide the direction of your life. Explain that each of us is personally responsible for our own decisions. Emphasize that each of us can control a situation based on the decisions that we make. Ask students to think about how many times they have let a situation control them (such as being put on restriction because they wouldn't clean their rooms). Remind them that they could have taken control of the situation if they had cleaned their rooms. That is an example of personal responsibility.

5. Give students the handout Man in the Mirror. They will use this handout to really examine their own characteristics. Tell them to take a few minutes before answering to really think about what they see inside themselves. ( Remind them that this worksheet is not asking for physical characteristics that they want to have or change.) After they finish, take a few minutes to ask students to share some of the characteristics they have listed. You might want to start by sharing something about yourself that you want to change. Explain to students that by doing those things they listed in part II of the worksheet, they are taking personal responsibility.

6. Ask students to explain what is the link between personal responsibility and social responsibility. Explain that as inhabitants of this earth, this city, this community, that we are responsible for those people, places and things around us. Have students answer the questions on overhead #1 as a journal entry: When people don?t take responsibility for their lives, what can be the consequences for themselves? For others? When people don?t take responsibility for their community, what can be the consequences for themselves? For others?

7. When students have finished, evaluate their answers for understanding. (See assessment section.)


When you evaluate the students' journal entries, you are looking for the explanation that by becoming more responsible, they make better decisions for themselves and their community. Students may say this in a variety of ways. Any statement to this effect will show mastery of the objective for this lesson.


When grouping students, group low achievers with high achievers. To extend the lesson, have students write a story about someone who was not socially or personally responsible. Have students include the consequences for this irresponsible behavior. Share the better stories with the class.
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