Gathering more information

Lesson powerpoint here

Lesson objectives:

  1. To identify how our beliefs about things that have already happened can affect how we feel and what we do.
  2. To look at gathering evidence, thinking flexibly and thinking optimistically.
  3. To understand the effect that accurate, flexible and optimistic thinking can have on our feelings and behaviour.


  • Run through the resilience quiz with the pupils on the slides. A B C stands for Adversity/Beliefs/Consequences. A thinking trap is any time our thinking is inflexible or inaccurate. All thinking traps are a form of assumption. The three main thinking traps are 1. always/never; 2. Me beliefs; 3. Them beliefs.
  • Show pupils the slide with some more thinking traps on it and explain them.
  • Play ‘greatest ever freak out microwave
  • Ask students to analyse the situation. Are there any thinking traps for any of the 3 characters (Stephen, his brother, his mother)? What consequences (feelings & behaviour) do those thinking traps result in?
  • Ask pupils how Stephen could think about this situation differently to avoid his emotional outburst: in other words, how can he make his thinking more accurate and more flexible (more resilient)?
  • Ask students to think about a situation where they over-reacted, or which is causing a problem for them. They should keep it relatively light! Ask them to remember this for later.

The file game.

  • Distribute copies of the file on Paul Gordon to groups of 4 or 5. This works best on paper, but could equally be done by sharing this webpage with pupils and asking them to use the PDF.
  • Ask students to read the diary entry (highlighted) for 10th February (on lesson slides). What thinking traps do they notice (always/never/me/them)? (The traps Paul is in are always/never and me: he sees the situation as permanent and personal, i.e., he is to blame).
  • Ask students in groups to read the file and see if they can help Paul to challenge his beliefs in 3 ways: by gathering evidence to see the situation more accurately and challenge his unhelpful beliefs; to try to find alternative ways of seeing the situation (flexible thinking) and to try to view the situation more optimistically by identifying what he can control and what he can change.
  • Ask pupils what Paul would write in his diary now and how he would feel about things.


This exercise is all about reviewing our initial beliefs about why something has happened and gathering more information to help us see the bigger picture. Often we will jump to conclusions about why something has not gone our way and we might place disproportionate blame on the actions of others, or blame ourselves too much and forget about the need to find solutions.

  • Ask the students to use the pie-charting sheet to work through the problem they thought of earlier.
  • Firstly, they should do an A, B, C of the event.
  • Secondly, they should think of what caused the event and decide how significant each cause was using their pie-chart.
  • Thirdly, they should talk about the situation with another person and try to work out if there are any other causes they might have missed (watch out for perceptual biases/thinking traps that prevent them from seeing the whole picture). They should re-do the pie chart, which should have more causes second time around.
  • Finally, they should think about what they can do to deal with or change the situation.

Prep: Try to use the pie-chart process to help understand situations that are difficult or cause problems. Write about the impact of gathering more information.