Family Resources on Being Cool, Part 2

Project and Purpose

Student groups analyze articles about “coolness” and present their information to the full group.

Essential Questions

Is being “cool”…cool?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students continued their analysis of what it means to be “cool” or to fit in. In class students read several journal articles about being cool and the downfall of being cool. In groups students used “The Nine Defining Qualities of Cool” from Being Cool, Part 1 and developed presentations to answer the question, “Is being ‘cool’, cool?”

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Some people seem to easily fit in with social groups and some even become trendsetters or influencers; this is part of youth culture (even if an individual youth is not interested in popular culture, it affects the social culture around them). In this lesson students developed presentations on what it means to be cool using the perspectives of several journal articles on the subject.

Conversation notes:
This discussion is best held after completing the conversation for Being Cool, Part 1 (although not necessarily immediately afterward).
For more insight on why some adolescents strive to be “cool” and what parents and mentors should know, see this article on the Psychology Today website by Jessica Grogan, Ph.D.:

Constructive Conversation Starters

The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities

Tell us about a really good presentation from class. Why did you find this presentation so interesting? What were some of the things you read that you found helpful? Why?

How important is it to fit in or be seen as an influencer? Describe why.

How should a person balance fitting in with a group while also being an individual who makes decisions for themselves? Why do you think as you do?

Do you want others to see you as “cool” or as an influencer? Why or why not?

What are the dangers of becoming “cool” or an influencer? Why do you say so?

How does someone who is considered “cool” know that the people around them are really their friends or are people who want to be seen as “cool” by others?

School to Home Resources on Being Cool, Part 2


  • Student worksheets from previous session: “The Nine Defining Qualities of Cool” based on the book How to Be Cool by Tom Hodgkinson
  • Four signs posted in distinct areas of the room with copies of the associated article:
    • “The Secret to Being Cool”
    • “5 Tips for Being Cool”
    • “How to Be Cool”
    • “What’s Wrong with Being Cool?”
  • Copies of the April 12, 2018 article “The Secret to Being Cool: Try Smiling” from the Society for Consumer Psychology as posted by ScienceDaily
  • Copies of the May 1, 2014 Time Magazine article, “How to Be Cool: 5 Research-Backed Tips” by Eric Barker
  • Copies of the Jan. 13, 2018 Psychology Today article, “The 2 Ways People Become Cool: New research shows that the 2 secrets to being cool lie within your personality” by Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.
  • Copies of the Jul 21, 2014 Psychology Today article, “What’s Wrong With Being Cool? Surprising new research exposes the weaknesses in coolness,” by Jessica Grogan, PhD.
  • Note: Set up work areas around the room. Provide each area with copies of the article associated with the signs (or load it onto available technology ahead of time); you should have enough copies so that each person winds up with one article

Lesson Plan

Interactive Reflections and Lesson Plans often cover broader themes than the competency named. All CWK stories are multi-faceted and are meant to prompt deep conversation.


Note: This lesson will take two or more class periods to complete.

Set up work areas around the room. Provide each area with copies of the article associated with the signs (or load it onto available technology ahead of time); you should have enough copies so that each person winds up with one article.

1. Distribute the student worksheets and review the analysis on being cool students completed in the previous session. Ask them to determine the most important takeaway from the session about being cool. Tell students they will use their worksheets to complete another step in the exploration of coolness.

2. Point out the signs posted in the room. Tell students that each of these signs indicates an article about being cool. Each person will choose the topic they want to read about and work on by going to that area. (Determine and explain how students will self-select — en masse? Random name draws? Etc.?)

3. Each article group will have time to read, annotate, and analyze the article to determine the best way to share the important information in the article with the rest of the class.

4. Have groups gather in circles to complete their tasks. Encourage groups to select one or two scribes and discussion leaders for their article analysis. Part of their analysis should include referrals to the Nine Qualities… worksheets they completed in the previous session.

5. Allow students to design how they wish to present the information from their articles. Will they have one person present their findings? Will they create a panel? Will they use visuals? Should they role play and conduct expert interviews? The groups should decide.

6. Give them the entire class period to complete their analysis and design their presentation methods.

7. Plan for the necessary amount of time for presentations


After all presentations are complete, have students write a brief response to the essential question: Is being “cool”…cool?

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