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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
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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.

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Dr. Katie Klinger

STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert

Comments (18) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Deryth's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Looks very interesting. I added the good character site to my favorites as there are some very useful resources for my classroom. I read Jim Fay's book "Teaching with Love & Logic" sometime ago & subscribed to his monthly email letter. Thanks for sharing. Deryth

Julie Bray's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I came to the site last week and explored it a little but didn't have time to post a response. I'm marking it down now to use next year with many of my grade levels. I love the idea of Responsibility Tag. Each month at school we focus on a character trait such as Respect, Honesty, etc. I think next year we might just start with Responsibility! With so much that is not helpful being available to young minds on the internet it is great to find something that is so helpful. Thanks for the info.

Amy G.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I watched the video "Growing Up" and will definitely use this with my 6th graders this year. I can use it several ways and I love the discussion questions that are available to use with the video. Great site! Thanks for letting us know about it.

vcwallace's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This is a great opportunity for staff helping staff. I pair teachers together so that if one of them is in trouble or late with something, the other one has to help that person. It works out fine until one person has to always help the person all the time. The weaker person drags down the stronger person's reosolve to help them. It as if they always expect to get help when they don't attempt to do what is given as the assignment. But help is always available because it then becomes a team project and if one person fails that means both fail. So help is available to keep from failing.

Gene's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The "Responsibility Project" posted an op-ed critiquing public and private policies that seek to control the spread of secondhand smoke in apt. buildings.

I dared to post a comment that politely pointed out that Liberty Mutual, as an insurance company, should favor diminished household smoking, as that would lessen both the health effects of secondhand smoke, especially on children and the lung-compromised elderly, and the risk of fires, which often damage far more than the apartment they start in. Let alone the loss of life.

You may not agree with the comment, but it is certainly not irresponsible.

What's irresponsible is the so-called Responsibility Project's absolute refusal to post the comment.

Gene's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

"The Responsibility Project" also doesn't take kindly to criticism of its positions. They won't post your comment if you critique them. Maybe its name is meant to be taken ironically.

Jeremy Long's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

It seems ironic that this should be sponsored by the most irresponible of all insurance companies.

Carol Ann Driskell's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am new to this site but when I started reading about "The Responsibility Project", it immediately caught my attention. The reference to the childhood game of tag and the comment of passing along the unwanted responsibility, really made me stop and think. I have been involved in education in one form or another for over 20 years. I find that more and more students as well as teachers and parents fail to take responsibility for acting on things well within their power to control. I am excited to explore this topic more to find out what I can do to promote the responsibility of helping ourselves and others. It's about time for all of us to take the responsibility to be "it".

Carol Ann Driskell's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have seen and experienced this for my whole life. I believe in teamwork and helping others. Many times this defaults to some people doing all the helping and others needing all the help. I believe it goes back to people refusing to take responsibility for themselves. It's a bad habit that is enabled by people with good intentions.

Michelle G.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I find this whole concept to be somewhat Orwellian. Corporate entities are now going to "educate" people on correct behavior? More than a little creepy.

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