Define Conflict

(20 minutes)

  1. Have students write out their definition of conflict.
  2. Distribute or read our definition of conflict:
    Conflict is a struggle or tension through which the parties involved perceive a threat to their needs, interests or concerns.
  3. Have students write out or discuss their reaction to our definition of conflict and how it was the same and different from their own definition.
  4. Have students watch the Conflict Introduction Video.

Sources of Conflict

(35 minutes)

  1. Explain that various factors can lead to conflict, which derive from different sources of conflict.
  2. Present the Sources of Conflict handout to the students
  3. Have them watch the related video explaining each source.

Conflict Source: Resources

Conflict Source: Values

Source: Power and Structure

Conflict Source: Information

Source: Relationships and Roles

Source: Emotional & Psychological Factors

  1. Ask your students to think about which sources are difficult to notice.
  2. Ask them to consider the types of situations in which each source of conflict occurs.
  3. What are clues that a specific source is involved in a conflict?
  4. Let your students know that in the future, as they are trying to analyze a conflict they are involved in, they can think back to these clues in order to aid them in figuring out the sources involved.  

Conflict Scenarios

  1. Have students watch the following video clips.
  2. Have them identify the main source of conflict in each situation.
  3. Ask your students why it is important to break down a conflict into its sources.

Conflict #1

Conflict #4

Conflict #7

Conflict #2

Conflict #5

Conflict #3

Conflict #6


Actual Conflicts

(30 minutes)

hst CONFLICT.png
  1. Have students write about or discuss an actual conflict they experienced or witnessed at school.
  2. Ask students to identify the sources of conflict in the situations they described and to think about which source might be easiest to resolve first and why this may be so.
  3. Pair students up and have them share their conflicts and sources, giving each other feedback. 

Conflict Spiral & Cycle

(20 minutes)

  1. Discuss the Conflict Spiral and the Conflict Cycle and contrast them with one another.
    1. Let students know that conflict resolution has this cyclical pattern: Agitation to Escalation to Recovery.  While it doesn't always flow exactly in this pattern (for instance, there may be times when the involved parties flux between the Escalation and the Recovery phases), it is important to see conflict in this perspective.
  2. Have your students watch the below video illustrating the conflict cycle.

Concept inspired from Constructive Conflicts by Louis Kriesberg pg. 23.



  1. Have students read the scenarios and fill in the conflict spiral stages on the Conflict Spiral Worksheet.
  2. Have students write next to each paragraph which stage of the conflict cycle the scenario is displaying in the Conflict Cycle Worksheet.
  3. Let your students know that the idea is to turn a conflict into a cycle, rather than a spiral.