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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Tag, You're It: The Responsibility Project

Dr. Katie Klinger

STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert

Recently, I was watching a group of children play tag in a local park. The premise, of course, is that one person is "it." He or she does his or her best to tag another participant, who then becomes the new "it." When I was a kid, being "it" never had a positive connotation. The entire purpose of the game is to pass along the unwanted responsibility of being "it."

Last week, I found out about a fascinating online collaboration project. The site, sponsored by the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, is called the Responsibility Project. In a way, this group effort is the opposite of the game of tag. As in tag, you try to pass along the responsibility of being "it," but in the Responsibility Project, you do so positively and productively.

The whole point is to spread the idea of people helping out other people. The project's founders designed the Web site pedagogically to help transmit social-skills concepts, and its sections on films, resources, and blogs are easy to navigate -- and hard to leave. They offer intriguing exercises in thinking about responsibility on a personal and social level.

The Responsibility Project began with a television commercial that showed individuals doing positive things for one another. The overpowering success of the commercial inspired its creators to develop a series of short films, and a Web site to showcase them. Even the names of the films -- Dinner for Two, Table Guardians, and Transit -- are intriguing.

The most recent addition to the site is Dinner for Two, a delightful six-minute animation that is geared toward children but will also resonate with every adult who has ever had to grudgingly share anything with anyone else. The feature, which hopes to teach children about responsibility, has an accompanying discussion guide with higher-order critical-thinking questions. Yet, as its story line dips up and down, we adults hold our breath in anticipation of the outcome, and we realize that the message of this film is highly relevant to the child still alive inside each of us.

In the site's Resources section, visitors to the site can share links to a book, television show, movie, or Web page that encourages the idea of responsibility. Recent submissions include sites such as GoodCharacter.com, Teendriving.com, and Love and Logic, as well as a book called The Spiffiest Giant in Town.

Inside the section called "What's Your Policy?," readers can choose a word to complete a question. For instance, the question "What is your idea of a responsible ________?" offers such fill-in words as parent, employee, manager, neighbor, and friend. (The choices are organized in a tag cloud, an array of words in various type sizes relative to their popularity.) When you click on your choice to finish the question, reader responses to the question will appear. You can partake in the discussion or simply read what's there to gain a fuller appreciation for the power this site can have in creating positive change in a community.

I heartily recommend that you explore the Responsibility Project page and send the link to your friends. I look forward to seeing your opinions about this innovative Web site.

Dr. Katie Klinger

STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert
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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thank you for the recommendation. I am excited by what you have shared about the Responsibility Project. I am going to check it out immediately. I need new material for this important life lesson. It sounds like it is capable of giving true meaning to the concept of responsibility.

Miss. Erks's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I think this is great. It is so important for children to leanr at a young age what responsibility is. Leanring to be responsible is such a vital characteristic to have.

Katie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am so pleased that you will be able to use this website and its excellent resources immediately! I see its strong potential as one where collaboration and leadership will bring awareness quickly to our children and communities. Warmly, Katie

Mr. Purdy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This is wonderful for children, because it is best to start teaching the positives at a young age so they can begin to absorb responsibilities.

susan's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree i think we need to take better care of our children and the way they play with one another

Bill McGRATH, Ph.D.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I enjoyed the movie "Father's Day"
I will use it in my class with the Court Schools to generate discussion about relationships-- and also with my University class - same general idea, but more for the value of video in context with writing
Knowing you as I do Katie, I realize this site has a lot of potential and positive aspects- I would bring up one variance - Today I mentioned reading about a mailman in Florida who upon noticing that some of his "customers" were senior citizens and their front lawns needed some TLC, spends his Saturdays cutting them --For Free- One of my court school guys said he was a sucker-- And while I know he ( mailman) is not, I fear many folks( not solely children) would share that sentiment-- The WIFM ( What's in it For Me!) is alive and thriving-- this video served to remind me of the familial connectivity that often may be hidden under a lot of pain and bad memories, but is still able to be salvaged-- Can we salvage those that hold the WIFM so near and dear?

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am very intrigued by The Responsibility Project. The students in my school have been taught by family, friends, and neighbors to solve their problems by checking (insulting) or fighting with others. I cannot wait to explore this more closely and pass along my findings to my administration and faculty!

Jennifer's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Recently I have been looking for some resources to teach my second grade students about respect and responsibility. They are always blaming others for their own actions or inactions.
Thank you for sharing this website! I can't wait to explore it more indepth and use the resources in my classroom. I will definitely share the website with others.
If anyone is interested, I have found several books that deal with other problems seen in the classroom. The books can be found at www.maginationpress.com. The books deal with subjects such as bullies, feelings, fears, teasing, tattling, etc.

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