Case Study Conflict Resolution School Activities

Conflict Resolution Using Pretzels

This weekly activity allows the exchange of compliments and criticism among the students in your class. It can help resolve conflicts and teach children how to properly handle conflict.

"Pretzels" is written by Ruth Sidney Charney, author of Teaching Children to Care: Management in the Responsive Classroom and Habits of Goodness: Case Studies in the Social Curricula, and co-founder of the Northeast Foundation for Children. This article first appeared in The Foundation's newsletter, The Responsive Classroom.

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I created "Pretzels" to develop stronger social skills in a particularly rambunctious first-grade class that was rife with daily tears, tattling, and teasing. I wanted a technique that allowed the children to be more perceptive of their own hurtful behaviors, while recognizing their abundant generosity at the same time.

Basically, "Pretzels" goes something like this.


Before beginning, make sure you have a bag or box of pretzels (the ordinary stick variety will do) and a supply of tokens or chips with which children can barter. Gather your students in a circle, and distribute ten tokens (or chips) to each child. Announce that each token is worth one pretzel.

Begin by introducing the activity and setting the stage:

Today, we are going to begin a new activity that has a funny name but a really serious purpose. It's called 'Pretzels,' and pretty soon you'll find out why.

'Pretzels' is a way for us to learn to be friendlier and kinder to one another in school, which I think is very serious. I believe that in order for us to do our best work, we all need to feel safe and good in school, and teachers can't make that happen alone.

Only when we do it all together do we make it safe and good. That is what I want us to learn and that is why we are going to try this serious activity with the funny name.

First, I see people acting in friendly and kind ways in our class. I see people help others open a thermos that is too tight. I see people say nice things like 'I like your drawing of the house.' Who else has noticed nice and friendly comments or actions?

The children respond and the teacher records responses on a chart with the heading "Ways We Are Helpful and Friendly," for example: "Sometimes Sheila shares her jump rope with me when I ask" or "Robert gives me some of his cookies."

Pay close attention to children's kind and thoughtful acts. Teachers need to model this behavior and incorporate its language into the classroom.

After brainstorming helpful, friendly behaviors, the teacher continues:

Sometimes, I notice ways that you hurt each other with your words or your actions. I see people push in line. I hear name-calling and teasing. I notice tattling and bossiness. What do you notice that we do in the classroom that hurts other people and isn't kind or friendly?

At this point, the teacher creates a new chart under the heading "Ways We Hurt Each Other." Taking care not to create a list of personal accusations, the teacher produces a list of key words, such as "unfair," "teasing," "put-downs," and "bullying," then writes down examples for each. Typical responses from the class might include: "Kids pick their friends to be on teams" or "Kids say you're stupid when you make a mistake."

Then, teacher and students review both charts together, and the teacher says, emphatically: "My goal is to help, not hurt. What is your goal? What do you think makes us all feel good and like to be in school?"

The teacher asks these questions to different children, directly. Eventually, everyone responds and agrees to a shared goal: to help and to be friendly.

Once students agree, the teacher then explains "Pretzels," which involves these simple steps:

  1. Going around the circle, each student can make two statements, each accompanied by an appropriate gesture.
  2. The first statement thanks someone for helping or for a special kindness that week. The student then presents a token to the person who performed the thoughtful act.
  3. The second statement tells about a hurt or upset by someone in the class. The child making the statement then collects a token as a symbol of apology or reparation (from the child who committed the offense).
  4. After children who wish have had a turn, the teacher allows students to cash in their tokens for pretzels.


When I first started "Pretzels," I felt that it was a risk. I wasn't sure what would happen when children were singled out consistently for hurtful behavior. I wasn't sure if there would be an increase in resentments and retaliation. I wasn't sure if children would be intimidated by the bullying or be able to confront it. Mostly, I worried that there would be far more complaints than compliments and thank-yous, and that "Pretzels" would turn into endless gripe sessions, with little affirmative relief.

Happily, with the aid of teacher modeling and reinforcement, children came to love noticing the kind and friendly contributions of their peers. They enjoyed exchanging pretzels (in the early days, we used the real things), and often volunteered extras if someone made an especially kind remark ("She made me feel good when I cried").

Children were highly observant and very specific in their comments. Clearly, they enjoyed the role of giving praise and seemed motivated to receive it from others.

You may discover, as I did, that children want particularly hurtful perpetrators to pay more. If so, allow them to create their own scale, such as three tokens for hitting or calling bad names, but just one if a person is joking when they tease, or if something was an accident.

My fear that some children would be singled out was inaccurate. One child, for example, went into "deficit-pretzels," while two others discovered the world of negative numbers. Fortunately, the perpetrators paid up, until empty-handed of all pretzels.

It also became apparent that hostilities were decreasing, not increasing. The class seemed more appeased, and the boy who racked up deficit pretzels appeared to be generally less aggressive. In fact, one week I paid him a pretzel for helping me clean and set up the paints. Other children followed suit, so that he received many pretzels for helping others out. Some time later, he exclaimed with obvious pride, "Look, Miss Charney, I got six pretzels this week!" And then he did a funny thing. He went to another child and handed over his pretzel stash. "Here, you can have these. I don't like pretzels," he said.


When children participate in "Pretzels" once a week, they learn to identify and express positive and negative feelings about each other in a ceremony that's carefully managed by the teacher.

As children proceed, they develop the courage to articulate feelings toward others without fear or embarrassment. This leads, in turn, to both assertiveness and empathy, which are foundations for mediation strategies they can apply in and out of the classroom.

In short, "Pretzels," when used successfully, functions as one of life's important rehearsals. It's a powerful tool that not only teaches children to compliment others, but to constructively criticize and call others to account in an appropriate manner.



  • Help children identify and name positive social interactions.
  • Build group trust and cooperation by creating, modeling, and reinforcing friendly and kind interactions.
  • Provide a safe and concrete form of appreciation when children help each other.
  • Provide a safe and concrete form of reparation when children hurt each other.


  • Everyone must take time to stop and think in order to recall a special kindness or hurt.
  • Children may only talk about what happened during the week.
  • Children may only talk about things that happen to ourselves.
  • Children use a "tagger's choice" rule. If someone thinks you bothered them, it is what they feel, so you pay. You do not argue.
  • "Pretzels" is confidential. This means that you do not talk about what happens in the activity with other students in different classes. The teacher asks, "Will you say to your cousin in fifth grade, 'Guess what happened in Pretzels today!'?"
  • "Pretzels" is over when everyone who wishes has taken a turn and the teacher announces "'Pretzels' is closed." Discussions are finished.
  • If some children have difficulty following rules at first, the teacher exempts them from the group, allowing them to observe but not to participate. In some cases, it is useful to set up a "pretzel bank," which accepts and pays out pretzel credits on behalf of non-participants. Usually, after one or two observations, non-participants will rejoin the group and act appropriately.

During the first few weeks, focus on positive comments and rewards only. Later, use judgement as to when to allow negative comments and reparations, if at all. Dealing with negative allegations requires considerable teacher expertise. Some teachers use "Pretzels" successfully all year long without advancing to negative issues.

Do not use candy or sweet snacks, as these may have unwanted psychological implications.
You can, if you wish, eliminate tokens and have children exchange items directly. If using snack items in this manner, do so only if they are individually packaged. For health reason, it's best to avoid exchanging unwrapped food items.

NOTE: This description of "Pretzels" is adapted from Teaching Children to Care: Management in the Responsive Classroom by Ruth Sidney Charney (Northeast Foundation for Children, 1992, pp.89-92).


The Northeast Foundation for Children, a private, non-profit educational foundation, works to improve the quality of classroom teaching through its professional development programs, summer workshops, long-term collaborations, and teacher resources. The foundation operates a K-8 laboratory/demonstration school, The Greenfield Center School, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, as a place to try new methodology and classroom practices in furtherance of the Foundation's goals. The Center School provides opportunities for educators to see developmentally appropriate teaching practices and the various components of The Responsive Classroom's social curriculum integrated in a mixed-age classroom.

The foundation publishes The Responsive Classroom newsletter for teachers. Subscriptions are free to educators.

Article posted by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © Education World

Last updated 06/04/2012

Conflict Resolution and History:
The War with Mexico as a Case Study


Arlene L. Gardner and John W. Chambers

What do history and fighting with your brother or sister have in common? Conflict. Looking at the history of national interactions over the centuries, we see a recurrence of conflicts frequently leading to wars that cost dearly in terms of lives, property, the environment, and the well-being of society. Although conflicts are an unavoidable part of personal and national life, we can learn how to deal with them constructively and nonviolently.

The Conflict Resolution in History project provides students in grades 5-12 with practical skills for resolving conflicts in their daily lives. In addition, it helps students understand the complexity of historical events and appreciate that history is not always an inevitable flow of events but rather a series of choices made by individuals and groups. The project promotes its work through teacher institutes and the development of lesson plans and related materials.1 Social studies teachers learn to integrate conflict resolution skills and American history in the same lesson.


Teacher Institutes

To date, more than two hundred teachers from schools in eight states have participated in intensive twenty- to twenty-five-hour teacher institutes, at which teachers practice and analyze techniques for dealing with conflicts and then apply their skills to historical conflicts. We teach conflict resolution skills, role-playing techniques, and historical content to teachers in the same way that teachers would teach the skills in the classroom. They learn about negotiations, which involve communications between two or more disputants for the purpose of reaching a resolution to a conflict, and mediation, which involve communications between two or more disputants to resolve a conflict with the help of a mediator, a disinterested third party. The teachers apply these skills first to everyday conflicts and then to specific conflicts in American history. They also discuss how to teach, analyze, and assess these strategies in the context of a history lesson for students in a middle or high school classroom.

What happens in the classroom? To begin, teachers guide the students through a discussion of the typical sources of and responses to conflict. Next, they introduce the students to principled or interest-based negotiations. The students practice negotiation and mediation skills to address hypothetical everyday conflicts. Then they apply these skills to specific conflicts in American history. The teacher assigns students to play the roles of specific historical figures or to be observers. The class reviews the relevant historical period—the events, people, issues, and other factors that led to the conflict. The teacher then helps the students define the real interests of the individuals or groups, sometimes in contrast to their stated positions.

Now the class is ready to conduct a mock negotiation, mediation, legislative lobbying and debate, or another interactive historical role-playing activity. In most cases, several groups of students try to resolve the same historical conflict simultaneously, and they are likely to come up with a variety of solutions. The observers in each group take notes on the process and results of the negotiation or mediation. After the activity, the teacher, with the help of the observers, discusses what happened in each group and why, focusing on the process, the use of conflict resolution skills, and the degree of historical accuracy. The class reviews what actually happened in history and compares the results with the role-playing activity. This debriefing enables students to understand more fully the historical conflict and the limitations that circumscribed it, as well as to appreciate the value and difficulties of using conflict resolution techniques.

The following sample lesson examines the war between the United States and Mexico in 1846 as a case study for conflict resolution.

Could the War Between Mexico and the United States in 1846Have Been Avoided through Negotiation or Mediation?

Lesson Objectives

By the end of the lesson, students should be able to

  • Appreciate the value of conflict resolution skills;
  • Apply conflict resolution skills to a historical conflict;
  • Analyze the conflicting interests that led to war between Mexico and the United States in 1846;
  • Understand the interplay of individual decisions and historical events in shaping history; and
  • Appreciate the influence of pride—both in oneself and in one’s country—as a force in personal and historical conflicts.


Steps in Negotiation

Students must learn some negotiating skills before they can apply them to historical conflicts. At a minimum, teachers and students should discuss the following steps in negotiations.

  • Agree on rules: no triggers (words or behaviors that result in anger or other emotional reactions), no interruptions, no giving up without at least trying to find a resolution.
  • Allow each party to present facts, feelings, and issues from that party’s perspective.
  • Actively listen: Indicate that you heard and understood by questions or restatements.
  • Agree on issues and interests.
  • Brainstorm solutions.
  • Evaluate solutions by using objective criteria.
  • Agree on a solution.
  • Agree on what to do if the conflict recurs.
  • Write down any agreement.
  • Remember that it’s important to preserve the relationships.

Students practice these steps with hypothetical, everyday conflicts, such as what to do about noisy neighbors or inconsiderate roommates or how to solve disputes between landlords and tenants or customers and store owners. Once the students have mastered these communication skills, they are ready to try to negotiate—taking on the roles, for example, of U.S. commissioner John Slidell or Mexican foreign minister Manuel de la Peña y Peña.


Historical Background

Before doing the role play, provide a historical summary (such as the following) and a map for students to review as homework.

The seeds for conflict between the United States and Mexico were planted before Mexico even became an independent nation. In 1819, a Spanish government weakened by the Napoleonic wars and revolts by its colonies reluctantly signed the Adams-Onís Treaty with the United States. The treaty required Spain to cede Florida in return for the U.S. assumption of $5 million in damage claims by U.S. citizens against Spain. It also set the western boundary of the Louisiana Purchase as the line running northwesterly from the mouth of the Sabine River. In 1821, after a decade of armed struggle, Mexico obtained independence from Spain. Mexico continued the Spanish practice of encouraging North Americans to settle the sparsely populated area in its northern provinces. Most of the settlers moving to the province of Texas were slave holders seeking the fertile soil along the Gulf Coast to grow cotton. Although the settlers were required by law to become Roman Catholic and Mexican citizens, most of the settlers from the United States were Protestant and thought of themselves as North Americans. By 1830, the North American population in Texas was twice as large as the Mexican population.

Soon after Mexican independence, the United States offered to purchase the Texas territory from Mexico. Mexico rejected the offer. Concerned about the growing number of Anglo-Americans in Texas, the Mexican government abolished slavery in 1829 in an attempt to discourage further immigration. Local authorities did not enforce the decree until 1834, however, when General Antonio López de Santa Anna seized power in Mexico City and attempted to tighten the central government’s control over the outlying provinces. The Anglos in Texas regarded this as a violation of their rights under the 1824 Mexican Constitution. Skirmishes began in 1835 between Texans and local Mexican soldiers. The Anglos in Texas set up a provisional government and their own army.

To suppress this insurgency, Santa Anna led a Mexican army of five thousand into Texas in 1836 and killed the two hundred Texans defending the old Alamo mission in San Antonio. The slaughter infuriated many North Americans. Joined by hundreds of volunteers, the Texan army defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto, captured Santa Anna, and extracted a treaty that recognized the independence of Texas, with the Rio Grande rather than the traditional border of the Nueces River as the southwestern border. Mexico immediately repudiated this agreement. Texas almost immediately sought annexation to the United States; however, annexation was problematic because of northern opposition to the expansion of slavery.

Meanwhile, other issues heightened tensions between the United States and Mexico. The claims that U.S. nationals had against the Mexican government for injuries or loss of property dating back to the 1820s remained unpaid. In 1840, an international claims commission settled the disagreement by requiring Mexico to pay approximately $2 million of claims. Mexico started to make payments, but the country’s fiscal problems forced the government to halt payments in 1842. Mexican forays into Texas and the harsh treatment of Texan prisoners captured in border raids created additional friction. Mexican fears of U.S. expansionism were fueled by public support for annexation and growth that dominated the North American press during the presidential campaign of 1844.

Amid growing international strain and deep internal fragmentation and instability, José Joaquin de Herrera became president of Mexico in early 1845. Prodded by Britain and France, he recognized the independence of Texas in an effort to prevent U.S. annexation by stipulating that it remain independent. But it was too late: Just before leaving office, U.S. President John Tyler, playing on fears that the British might seize Texas, obtained approval of an annexation treaty through a joint resolution (simple majority) of both houses in January/February 1845. Mexico broke off diplomatic relations with the United States but did not take military action. Newly installed U.S. President Polk, who had campaigned as an ardent expansionist, compounded Mexico’s distrust of the United States by supporting the Texas claim to the Rio Grande as its border. In an effort to salvage national pride, President Herrera sent a confidential note to the U.S. government in August 1845 indicating that he was willing to negotiate the Texas boundary. In October 1845, President Polk sent John Slidell on a secret mission to Mexico with instructions to negotiate the Texas boundary issues and the outstanding claims against Mexico by U.S. citizens and to offer $15-40 million for the purchase of the sparsely settled northern Mexican states of California and New Mexico. Polk wanted California for its ports to the Far East and to complete U.S. expansion from coast to coast.

It is December 1845. U.S. commissioner John Slidell arrives in Mexico and is greeted by Mexican Foreign Minister Manuel de la Peña y Peña. The two sit down to negotiate a resolution to the growing hostility between their two countries.


Assign the Roles

After dividing the class into groups of three or four, assign the following roles:

  • Manuel de la Peña y Peña, the Mexican foreign minister in 1845, is a noted Mexican lawyer, jurist, and public servant. Peña y Peña is a moderate politically and recognizes that Mexico cannot defeat the United States and cannot even control its northern states. He is looking for a way to resolve the situation that will enable Mexico to save face.
  • John Slidell, the U.S. commissioner, is a lawyer and businessman born in New York City who moved to New Orleans and became a member of Congress from 1843-45 as a Democrat from Louisiana. His political ambition is to obtain a Senate seat. He was instructed by President Polk to obtain California, New Mexico, and the disputed area of Texas by threats or offers of $15-40 million to Mexico.
  • The Observers do not verbally participate in the negotiation. They use an observer’s sheet to take notes on both the process and the results of the negotiation. The observers must carefully listen and record what is happening during the negotiation.
  • A Mediator may be added to the group, possibly from the hypothetical International Mediation Association. The role of the mediator is to help the disputants come to a resolution by facilitating the negotiation steps and caucusing with each party separately.


Interests and Positions

Guide your students through a discussion of the stated positions of the United States and Mexico and the real or underlying interests or concerns of each. What is causing them to take these positions?

The underlying interests or concerns of Mexico include

  • Hurt pride, especially after the loss of Texas;
  • onor, which heightens an unwillingness to lose other northern provinces;
  • Distrust of U.S. motives;
  • Fear that Mexicans in Texas would be seen as racial inferiors and treated like Africans or Natives; and
  • Other concerns, such as the need to address internal stability, political factions, and a depleted treasury.


The underlying interests or concerns of the United States include

  • Desire for ports on the West Coast (California) for trade with the Far East;
  • Fear that Britain will take Texas and abolish slavery there;
  • An ideology of manifest destiny—that the United States would expand across the continent;
  • An ideology that the United States is a “beacon of freedom” to the world;
  • A belief in Anglo-American racial superiority; and
  • Bellicosity in slave states.


The Role-Playing Activity

In groups of three (Peña y Peña, Slidell, and an observer) or four (add a mediator), students try to resolve this conflict. Their tools include a map of Texas with the proposed boundaries at the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers, the summary of the underlying concerns and interests, and the steps of negotiation or mediation. The students playing the roles of Peña y Peña and Slidell should try to stay in their historical characters, but they should also try to use conflict resolution skills beyond what the original politicians may have been willing or able to use. The activity may take as little as fifteen minutes, but we recommend forty-five minutes. If students are prepared, the additional time will lead to richer discussion.


Evaluating the Simulation

After the allotted time, the students return to their regular seats. The teacher asks the observers about the negotiation process. To what extent did the parties

  • Use active listening skills?
  • Brainstorm and evaluate alternatives?
  • Articulate the underlying interests?
  • Let rhetoric get in the way of a solution?
  • Reach a mutually acceptable solution?
  • Miss opportunities for compromise?
  • Play the roles with historical accuracy?

The teacher then asks the observers about the results of the negotiations or mediations in each group. Were the negotiators able to come to an agreement? Were they close to an agreement? What issues or factors kept them from agreeing?

The teacher notes the similarities and differences, both in the process and the results, among the groups. Some groups will play their roles close to historical reality and may not be able to come to an agreement. Other groups will seriously apply the conflict resolution skills and come to an agreement that may not have been possible during this historical time. The tension between staying true to historical roles and using conflict resolution skills is where the real learning occurs. It enables students to better understand the historical limitations of the situation and appreciate the value of conflict resolution.


What Really Happened?

After reviewing the negotiation or mediation process and results in each group, the teacher provides a summary of what actually happened.

When John Slidell reached Mexico City in early December 1845, the full nature of his secret mission had already become known publicly, and President Herrera was too vulnerable to public outcry by the Mexican press to receive him. Herrera was overthrown by General Paredes, a favorite of the conservatives. John Slidell returned home. In January 1846, President Polk ordered General Taylor to occupy the disputed Texas territory, and the two countries entered a war that they each called “defensive.”

The fighting ended two years later with the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo. Mexico ceded California and New Mexico (which included the present states of Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming) to the United States and confirmed the annexation of Texas with the border at the Rio Grande. The United States paid $15 million for California and New Mexico and assumed adjusted claims of $3 million by American citizens against the Mexican government. The United States agreed that the Mexicans living in Texas could continue to reside there and would be secure in their land and their religion, a provision that was deleted by the U.S. Senate.

The costs of war were great.

  • 50,000 Mexicans lost their lives.
  • 1,700 North Americans were killed in battle, and 11,500 died from other causes, mostly diseases.
  • The war cost the United States approximately $100 million (the total U.S. expenditures in 1845 were $23 million and the national debt was $16 million).
  • The war bankrupt the Mexican treasury, devastating the Mexican economy and destabilizing the government.

Compare the results of the negotiations or mediations in each group with what actually happened.


Questions for Discussion

Pose the following questions for the class to discuss as a whole, in small groups, or as homework.

1. Would it have been historically realistic for Mexico to have accepted a settlement to the dispute with the United States without having been forced by armed conflict and internal strife? Would Mexico’s national pride have permitted a settlement without violence?

2. Could Mexico and the United States have accepted a resolution that acknowledged the annexation of Texas by the United States, but with the southwestern boundary as the Nueces rather than the Rio Grande River?

3. How did the institution of slavery influence the concerns of each party?



1. The Conflict Resolution in History project and the teacher institutes are the work of a collaborative effort by the Center for Historical Analysis at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, the New Jersey Center for Civic and Law-Related Education at Seton Hall University, and numerous public and private schools. The project, started in 1994 as Peaceful Resolutions to Conflict in a Multicultural Society, is funded by the Ford Foundation.


References on the Mexican War

Bauer, Jack K. The Mexican War, 1846-48. New York: Macmillan, 1974.

Brack, Gene M. Mexico Views Manifest Destiny, 1821-1846: Essays on the Origin of the Mexican War. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1975.

Eisenhower, John S. D. So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846-48. New York: Random House, 1989.

Johannsen, Robert W. To the Halls of the Montezuma: The Mexican War in the American Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Jones, Oakah L. Santa Anna. New York: Twayne, 1968.

Meyer, Michael C., and William L. Sherman. The Course of Mexican History. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Pletcher, David M. The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon, and the Mexican War. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1973.

Robinson, Cecil, ed. The View from Chapultepec: Mexican Writers on the Mexican-American War. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989.

Ruiz, Ramon Eduardo, ed. The Mexican War: Was It Manifest Destiny? New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1963.

Santoni, Pedro. Mexicans at Arms: Puro Federalists and the Politics of War, 1845-1848. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1996.

Schroder, John H. Mr. Polk’s War: American Opposition and Dissent, 1846-48. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1973.

Vazquez, Josefina Zoraida, and Lorenzo Meyer. The United States and Mexico. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.


References on Conflict Resolution

Fisher, Roger, William Ury, and Bruce Patton. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In. 2d ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.

Johnson, D.W., and R. Johnson. Teaching Students to be Peacemakers. Edina: Interaction Book Co., 1991.

Lantieri, Linda, and Janet Patti. Waging Peace in Our Schools. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1997.

Zimmer, Judith A. We Can Work It Out! Problem Solving through Mediation. Culver City: Social Studies School Service, 1993.


Arlene L. Gardner is codirector of the Conflict Resolution in History project and director of the New Jersey Center for Civic and Law-Related Education at Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey.
John W. Chambers, codirector of the project, is a professor of history at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey.


Teacher Institutes and Curriculum Package


Teacher Institutes on Conflict Resolution in History are now being conducted across the country, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. A curriculum package is planned for the end of 2002, including a Reader of Case Studies of Selected Conflicts in American History for secondary school students, a Teacher’s Guide, a videotape, and a CD-ROM.

The reader will include information and activities for students about conflict resolution and background materials for studying selected historical conflicts and questions for discussion. The Teacher’s Guide will include explanations of conflict resolution skills and role playing as a teaching methodology, as well as outcomes, assessments, and areas for further exploration. The thirty-minute videotape, for teachers to use with their students, will show a class at various points in a historical role-playing activity. The multimedia curriculum package will be rounded out with a CD-ROM, which will include visual aids, maps, primary documents, and links to additional resources on each historical conflict.

The twenty topics that we plan to cover in the lessons are

  • European Colonists and Native Americans: Could Mediation Have Avoided King Philip’s War, 1676
  • Quakers and Native Americans: Mock Treaty Negotiations, 1683
  • The First Continental Congress Decides How to Respond to Britain in 1774
  • Could the American Revolution Have Been Avoided?: British and Colonist Negotiations, 1775
  • Issues of Slavery at the Constitutional Convention, 1787
  • Cherokee Removal Mock Congressional Debate, 1830; Mock Mediation, 1836
  • Could the War Between Mexico and the United States Have Been Avoided through Negotiation or Mediation, 1845
  • Women’s Rights in the 19th Century, 1848 and 1869
  • The Reconstruction Debate in Congress
  • Imperialism, Insurrection, and Intervention, 1898
  • Labor Relations: The Pullman Strike, 1894
  • Labor Relations: The Paterson Silk Strike, 1913
  • Could the Women’s Peace Movement Have Prevented U. S. Entry into World War I?
  • Immigration Restrictions and the National Origins Act of 1924: Mock Lobbying
  • Rosie the Riveter versus G.I. Joe: Congressional Hearing and Deliberations about Women in the Workforce after World War II
  • The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Mock Mediation and Moot Court, 1955
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis: Mock Negotiations, 1961
  • The United States and the War in Vietnam: 1966 Mediation and 1969 Negotiations
  • The 1992 Los Angeles Riots: Mock Community Mediation
  • The Environment and the Economy


For additional information about teacher institutes or lesson plan materials, contact Arlene Gardner at (973) 761-9093 or visit


[This could also go if we don’t have room for it. Repeats what is in the text]

BOX B: Results of a Preliminary Program Evaluation

The preliminary evaluation of the Conflict Resolution in History project included comments by teachers at follow-up seminars, responses by students to seven questions on a student questionnaire, and anonymous responses to thirty-one questions by teachers who participated in the first four years of summer institutes (1994, 1995, 1997, and 1998). How did the teachers respond?


97 percent said that they continue to use lessons presented at the summer institute (two to five years after the summer institute).

89 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “my students can identify causes of conflict.”

80 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “my students recognize that history is not an inevitable flow of events.”

87 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “my students gain a richer understanding of history.”

77 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “my students appear to be enjoying the study of history more.”

75 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “my teaching has become more effective.” 

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