Crossing Social Boundaries

This upper-grades lesson asks students to examine school teams, groups, and organizations. These school-sanctioned groups help students define identity, increase their academic commitment, and build friendships. But students often stay to themselves instead of reaching out to others. This activity asks students to consider ways they might “cross-pollinate” in order to make their school experience more fruitful and strengthen their relationships with all classmates.
Grade Level


At the end of the lesson, students will be able to: 

  • identify different organizations within their school and discuss what their organization can do for another group. 
  • “cross-pollinate” by taking action to do a kind deed for another school team or organization.
Essential Questions
  • How can supporting other school groups help students strengthen school spirit and relationships?

Enduring Understandings

  • Supporting other school groups can create opportunities for students to cross their routine social boundaries and strengthen their relationships with all classmates.


  • counterpart [koun-ter-pahrt] (noun)  a person or group that are similar to another 
  • cross-pollination [kros-pol-uh-ney-shuhn] (noun)  the transfer of pollen from one plant to another to fertilize the plant; the spreading of ideas or enthusiasm from one person or group to another  
  • impact [im-pakt] (verb)  to have a strong effect or influence

Suggested Procedure

1. Explain to students that bees are important because they take pollen from one plant and carry it to another to fertilize the plant. This is called cross-pollination. Without bees, we’d be in serious trouble because many of our trees and plants would not be able to bear fruit.  

In the same way, our school bears more fruit (community spirit) if our teams/groups/organizations/clubs cross-pollinate and support each other. Unfortunately, some school teams/groups/organizations/clubs get more attention than others. This is especially true of sports teams or teams that have a winning reputation. 

2.  Show students the Cross-Pollination handout and example to review what they will be doing. Then use the Cross-Pollination Handout to aid students in brainstorming about the school’s different teams/groups/ organizations/clubs. Lead this discussion on the front board while students individually write up the brainstorm session on their own handouts. Ask students what teams/groups/organizations/clubs they’re involved in and start with those. 

3. Have students complete the Cross-Pollination Handout. Then invite students to consider which team/group/ organization/club would be most surprised and positively affected by their kind support.  

4.  Everything rises and falls on leadership. Thus, this activity works best if you select a student leader from each team/organization to lead their group in this activity. Explain to group members that their team is a part of a larger community. As an act of kindness, they are going to reach out to another group, showing that team spirit reaches across social boundaries. The leader can explain the concept of cross-pollination and refer to this activity as “creating some buzz” with another team/group/organization/club.  

Have students brainstorm ideas that they can do to “create some buzz.” Give them the following ideas to start off: 

  • One group can have all team members sign a card telling them they support them, congratulating them for a recent victory or encouraging them after a recent loss. Have representatives take the card to their next meeting and give it to them. 
  • Send the coach or team a gift of appreciation — for example, flowers or a certificate or plaque. 
  • A lot of school groups throw a bake sale to raise money for their own team, but what if one group threw a bake sale and donated all the proceeds to another team? 

Tell students that the simplest act of kindness that one group can offer another is to simply show up at their events. Ask students to choose three acts of kindness, and report back after they “create buzz” to share how they felt and the effects of their kind acts.

Common Core State Standards: SL.1, SL.2, SL.4


Extension Activity

Once students get comfortable with “creating buzz” inside their school walls, they might consider taking it out to the community. They could expand community spirit by offering any of the above “buzz” ideas to a neighboring or rival school. Or they could find other community groups to encourage. Teams from high school could encourage their counterparts at the local middle school.

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