AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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Stand Up/Sit Down Similarities/Differences Exercise

Introduction: The purpose of this exercise is to set the tone of inclusion and respect by emphasizing the similarities and differences that we all have, especially as they relate to bullying and violence. The sample questions below can be modified to suite your audience and school. Ask the audience to stand up if the question applies to them. Tell the class, “I’m going to give a list of characteristics that may or may not be true about you. As I say each characteristic, if it is true for you stand up. If it is not true, stay seated or sit down."

Begin the questions by saying, “Stand up if you are someone who…”

Likes to eat pizza….. burritos….. burgers….. Chinese food…… chocolate?

Has a sister….. brother…… pet?

Plays sports….. can sing…… can dance…… play an instrument?

Can speak more than one language….. two languages?

Have ever been embarrassed?

Have ever told someone you love him or her?

Have ever heard a gunshot?

Been affected by violence at some point in your life?

Used your words or actions to hurt others?

Have been hurt by others’ words or actions?

Had a family member or friend harmed or killed through violence?

Have felt good walking away from a potential fight?

Have been in a situation when they wish they had not lost their temper?

Have someone they can talk to?

Want to be treated with respect?

Discussion & Conclusion: This exercise shows us that we all have more in common than not. Also, most of us at some point have been hurt or hurt someone else, whether intentionally or not. When we use this with students across populations, you will see the participants scan the room looking for others who share the same things in common with them. It can create a situation where a student will approach another later on because they saw that they had something in common with someone they might have previously seen as “different.” Consequently, bonding and attachment begins and as research has shown we are less likely to hurt each other if we feel we are alike and are connected to one another.

  • Point out similarities/differences
  • Did you learn something knew about someone you thought you knew?
  • Did you learn you had something in common with someone you did not think you did?

Final point: We have all been affected by violence and we all want to be treated with respect.


Source: Broward County Office of Prevention Programs (