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A-Module 5 Friendship

  • Analyze and identify the qualities of a good friend.
  • Recognize the importance of being open to new friendships.
  • Understand and appreciate individual traits and interests.
  • Have students think about a close friend.
  • Ask students to create a two column chart, labeling one side with the word, “Me” and the other with “My Friend”
  • In the “Me” column write your traits and your interests, hobbies and things you enjoy.
  • In the “My Friend” column, write your friend’s traits and their interests, hobbies and things they enjoy.
  • Circle the activities and traits on both sides of the chart that are different. Emphasize, “Someone does not have to be just like you to be a good friend.”


Introduce Clip 19. Say, “I am going to show a series of clips from the movie. As you watch, I want you to jot down anything you see or hear that shows that these characters are friends. What do they do? How do they act?” What do they talk about?

  • Cyber bullying on steps and all the ensuing behavior of boys to make him feel better
  • Sarah helping Tommy
  • Tommy teaching Matt to cook Pasta
  • Matt teaching Tommy to swim
  • Matt and Tommy in the car. Matt is confiding in Tommy
  • Tommy choosing to keep Matt on the team and knowingly losing the contest as a result

Ask students to share their responses with a partner and make a list of the qualities of a friend. Ask pairs to share their list. As they share, ask other pairs to actively listen and check off traits already mentioned by another pair. Create one large class list.

  • Show Clip 20 of Tommy and Matt talking to each other in their sleeping bags (be sure to identify where Matt talks about the expectations of others, and the cookie cutter comment).
Guided Discussion: Have you ever heard the phrase, “Be yourself.“ What does it mean? Why do you think people act the way they think other people expect them to be? Who gets to decide what the “right” way to be is?
  • Emphasize that in the Getting Ready Activity the students identified ways they were different from their close friends. Discuss how Tommy and Matt seemed so different at the beginning of the movie, but they became friends. Think about Clip 20, “What did Tommy learn from Matt and what did Matt learn from Tommy?”
  • Write the word “Judgment” on the board. Discuss how we might judge others even when we do not even know them because they don’t fit a certain image or “cookie cutter.” Ask, “Have you ever seen someone judged unfairly because they were different?” Share with a partner.
  • Ask students to list four things they are interested in or love doing, such as hobbies, sports, collecting items, but not watching TV.
  • Ask students to stand and then in an organized fashion, students walk around the room and place their initial next to the activities on their classmates’ pages that they have in common. For example, John likes playing guitar so he would initial anyone’s paper that had playing guitar.

Guided discussion:

  • Did you find others who share your interest(s)?
  • Did you see something on someone’s list that you might be interested in learning more about?
  • Are all your friends from school? Where else have you made friends? Emphasize that friends can be made anywhere if you take the chance to meet people and learn about them.
  • Should we expect to be friends with everyone? Why or why not? Turn and talk to a partner. Emphasize that no one can be close friends with everyone, but everyone can respect one another.
  • Show Clip 21 – Students talking about putting aside first impressions, not judging others, getting to know them and possibly making a new friend.
  • Say “Let’s hear what Tommy has to say about keepers.” Show Clip 22 – Keeper scene.


Think about Tommy’s words: Work with a partner and write a definition of a keeper. These can be made into “Be a Keeper” posters to hang in the classroom or school.

  • Take a challenge: Find someone you haven’t spoken to before and create an essay introducing that person and telling what you learned about them. Describe how you felt about that experience.
  • Explore the concept of making false judgments. Think about…”You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Working with a partner or small group, what does this saying mean and how can you apply it to your life? How does this relate to being open to making new friends? Use Tommy and Matt’s actions to justify your response.
  1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio ©2012 Random House (320 pages)The powerful story of Auggie, a boy with a severe facial deformity, who must attend school for the first time in his life. Although he feels ordinary on the inside, he must depend on new relationships with his classmates to get them to draw the same conclusion. His classmates and family learn much about themselves, and this book is a testament to simple power that friendship can have.
  2. An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley by Ann Rinaldi ©2007 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (256 pages)Historical fiction story that begins on the night of Lincoln’s assassination and describes the unusual and forbidden (by many) friendship between First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and her dressmaker, freed slave Lizzie Keckley, and how the interaction influences both of their lives.
  3. Onion John by Joseph Krumgold ©1959 Harper Collins (256 pages)A Newbery winner and classic, this story tells the tale of an unusual friendship between 12-year-old Andy Rusch Jr, and Onion John, a homeless immigrant. The two become friends, bringing an attempt by the whole town to bring Onion John into the fold. It carries the themes of acceptance and understanding, but will leave the reader with questions as well.