materials for NYC's
Respect for All Week
During Respect for All (RfA) week, students in schools across
New York City will participate in programs and activities that
teach them to value diversity and respect one another. They will
also receive important information on where to go to for help
if they or someone they know has been a victim of bullying or
harassment. Working together, we can help prevent bullying and
discrimination early on, while ensuring that every child is able
to pursue his or her dreams without fear or discrimination.
Center for Teaching Social Responsibility works in NYC public
schools year-round to help them foster a climate of respect and
caring. We also contribute to RfA Week by posting free materials
on our TeachableMoment.Org website for teachers to use in their
lessons below were taken from the "Celebrating Diversity
& Countering Prejudice" Units, of Morningside Center's
research-based 4Rs curriculum (Reading, Writing, Respect &
Resolution) for third and fifth grade.
issues can be controversial. Morningside Center has general guidelines
for dealing with controversial issues that you might find helpful:
on Controversial Issues.
for the Teacher
the idea that we would all get along if only we could overlook
skin color and culture has given way to a more complex understanding
of difference, of race, and of the hard work necessary for people
to appreciate each other and work together. The images we use
in diversity work are often those of the patchwork quilt or the
rainbow mosaic. However pretty the images, though, they do not
obscure the fact that our society has lots of unfinished business
when it comes to respecting diversity.
as young as three and four are aware of this prejudice and have
begun to absorb it. They can respond to open discussion of difference
and prejudice. In this unit, students will explore similarities
and differences, both physical and cultural. We will do this primarily
through sharing stories. As we talk of our particular people and
history and learn others' stories, we come to both a greater appreciation
of our own group and of others. If we are secure in our own identity,
we are more likely to respect other people.
for Students in
Lower Elementary Grades
Attribute Linking (7 minutes)
Students stand in an area of the classroom where they can move
around. When you call out a preference or attribute, those who
have the preference or attribute in common find each other and
stand together. For example, if you call out, "Favorite season
of the year," the children whose favorite season is spring
will find each other and stand together, while children who prefer
winter, fall, or summer will do the same. Once the students are
standing with others who share the same preference or attribute,
you can ask each group to say something about why they're standing
there. (For example: Why do you like spring the most? Or why is
summer your favorite season?) Continue the activity with other
attributes or preferences, such as favorite sport, favorite food,
favorite kind of music, kind of shoes you're wearing, number of
children in your family.
Check agenda (1
Go over the objectives and the agenda.
Face to Face (10 minutes)
Partners will find out what they have in common and how they are
partners and have them stand or sit facing each other. Everyone
has three minutes to find out and jot down five ways he differs
from his partner and five characteristics they have in common.
everyone change partners and repeat the exercise.
the entire class, list typical similarities and differences on
were some of the differences?
there similarities that went along with differences (for example,
most people have hair, but hair has different colors and textures)?
differences are most important? Which are least important?
you notice mostly physical characteristics?
other characteristics could you have noticed? What features
are most people born with?
can they change? How?
Creative Conflict Resolution by William J. Kreidler. ©
1984 by Good Year Books.Used by permission of Pearson Education,
It's not Fair! (5 minutes)
Ask, What do you see or experience in your life that you find
unfair? Elicit examples from the students of things they find
and Discrimination (7 minutes)
Explain that now we're going to explore a kind of unfairness called
prejudice and discrimination. Ask, what is prejudice? Elicit the
that sometimes people have negative attitudes toward people different
from themselves. Without even knowing the person, they assume
they won't like the person. This is called prejudice. Prejudice
is a negative attitude or opinion that is not based on knowledge.
Action based on prejudice is called discrimination.
might mention the book Green Eggs and Ham by Doctor Seuss,
which most children are familiar with. The character in that story
says he doesn't like green eggs and ham. Finally, when he tries
them, he does like them. His original opinion was formed without
knowledge. That's an example of prejudice. People can also have
prejudice about other people.
What are other examples of prejudice and discrimination? Elicit
examples from several volunteers. Encourage the students to think
of examples from their own lives. Are prejudice and discrimination
fair? What effect do they have on people? When things happen that
are unfair, either to us or to someone else, what should we try
Thinking: Standing up against things that are unfair (10 minutes)
In "Quick Thinking," you describe a situation to the
class; and then students, working in pairs, have a minute or two
to come up with an idea for addressing it. When the time is up,
the pairs share their idea with the group. The aim is to generate
lots of ideas and get people thinking, not necessarily to come
with one "best" approach.
that in this "Quick Thinking" exercise, we're going
to generate ideas for standing up to prejudice and discrimination.
We're going to come up with ideas for stopping people from treating
other people unfairly.
are some situations you might put out to the students for "quick
group of boys is playing basketball. A girl asks to play and
is told, "No! Girls aren't any good at basketball!"
boy is being teased because his pants are too short and his
shoes have holes.
girls are close friends, and other kids start to tease them,
saying "You're gay."
day on the school bus, a boy teases another boy by saying, "Hey
fatso! What's fatso up to today?"
new girl in the school doesn't speak English very well. (She
has recently come from another country.) Kids are teasing her
by saying, "You're stupid. You talk funny."
Evaluation (5 minutes)
What's one thing you learned in today's workshop? It's not easy
to stop people when they're treating others unfairly. Can you
see yourself doing that, perhaps using some of the ideas we came
up with in "Quick Thinking"? Ask for several volunteers
to share their thoughts about this.
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
Abuela's Weave by Omas S. Castaneda
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline
Blubber by Judy Blume
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen
The First Woman Doctor by Rachel Baker
My Name Is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
for students in
upper elementary grades
Have the students work in pairs to tell each other a food they
enjoy that comes from a culture different from their own.
Check agenda (1 minute)
Go over the objectives and the agenda.
Culture Web (10 minutes)
Write the word "culture" on the chalkboard or in the
middle of a piece of chart paper. Ask the students to "free
associate" with the word, sharing words or ideas that come
to mind when they hear the word "culture."
what is culture? Elicit the students' thinking. Help them develop
a definition of culture as the particular values, beliefs, customs,
and ways of life shared by a group of people.
that the word "culture" is most commonly used in connection
with ethnic groups, that is, groups defined by language, religion,
or ancestry. Examples of ethnic groups in the United States are
Italian Americans, Irish Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans,
Puerto Rican Americans, Dominican Americans, Mexican Americans,
What ethnic groups do we have in our class? Ask for volunteers
to name their ethnic backgrounds.
that in a complex modern society like the United States, there
are other groups besides our ethnic group that we are part of
and can choose to identify with. So while some people may identify
most strongly with their ethnic backgrounds, others may identify
most strongly with their work or occupation-for example, with
being a teacher or a nurse. Another person might identify with
their role in society (like being a parent or a student). Another
might identify with being from a certain class background (like
working class or middle class); still another, with being a feminist
or a social activist or an artist. People in each of these groups
share certain kinds of experiences, and may think of themselves
as having certain values and life styles in common. Explain that
in the 4Rs curriculum, we define culture broadly to include these
kinds of groups as well as ethnic groups.
Banners (20-40 minutes)
students for this activity by sharing some information about your
family. For example, you might talk about your family when you
were growing up or your family now; you might talk about your
immediate family and your extended family; you might share something
about your cultural background-where your ancestors came from
and why they came to this country; and you might talk a bit about
some values that were important in your family as you were growing
ask for volunteers to share similar information about their families.
You might find something to serve as a play microphone and call
several students to come up one at a time for a brief interview.
Questions might include: Who's in your immediate family? Who is
in your extended family? What are some things your family likes
to do together? Does your family have special celebrations or
traditions? What's the cultural background of your family? Do
you know where your ancestors came from?
completing several brief interviews with students, pass out drawing
paper and markers or crayons. Tell the students you want each
of them to make a "family banner" by writing their family
name(s) in the center and drawing things or writing words that
represent what's important in their family (activities, values,
celebrations, traditions, favorite places, etc.).
the students have completed their banners, give students a chance
to share their banners with the group and talk a bit about them.
To ensure that students pay good attention to each other, you
may want to do the sharing of the banners in several sittings.
Have the students work with a partner. Ask, What's one thing you
learned from our lesson today? After they've had a chance to talk
in pairs, ask for several volunteers to share their thoughts with
Lead the students in a round of applause for their hard work on
a difficult topic.
America Is her Name by Luis J. Rodriguez, illus. Carlos
Annie's Promise by Sonia Levitan
The Canning Season by Margaret Carlson, illustrated by
Kimanne Smith (example of memoir)
Freak the Mighty by W. R. Philbrick, Rodman Philbrick (move
is called "The Mighty")
Just Like Home/Como En Mi Tierra by Elizabeth I. Miller,
illus. Mora Reisberg, trans. Teresa Mlawer
Friends from the Other Side, by Gloria Anzaldua, illus.
by Consuelo Mendez. Bi-lingual.
Prietita and the Ghost Woman/Prietita y la Llorena by Gloria
Anzaldua, illus. Christina Gonzalez. Bilingual
The Woman Who Outshone the Sun: The Legend of Lucia Zenteno,
Rosalma Zubizarreta, Harriet Rohmer, David Schecter, Alejandro
Cruz Martinez, illus. Fernando Olivera. Bilingual
Exploring Stereotypes (15 minutes)
Explain that one form prejudice takes is "stereotypes."
Ask, What do we mean by "stereotype"? Elicit that a
stereotype is a general statement about a group of people based
on incomplete information.
we're going to explore stereotypes through an exercise called
"First Thoughts." Have the students work in groups of
four. Each group needs a piece of chart paper and markers. In
their groups the students write the word "teenager"
in the middle of the chart paper and draw a line around it. Then
they fill the paper with their first thoughts about teenagers.
the groups five or ten minutes to complete their "first thoughts"
charts. Then give each group a chance to share what they came
up with. After all of the groups have presented, write "Teenagers"
on the chalkboard, elicit from the class the main points that
have emerged from their "first thoughts," and write
them down. Your description might look something like this:
addicted to junk food
on the telephone a lot
rowdy, rude, and disrespectful
let anybody tell them what to do
totally into themselves
Do some teenagers fit this description? Do all teenagers fit this
description? Who can describe a teenager you know who is not like
this? Is it fair to say or imply that all teenagers are like this?
What negative results could come from people having stereotypes
might repeat this exercise to explore stereotypes of older people.
and Discrimination (14 minutes)
Explain that cultural differences can enrich our lives. The foods
we enjoy from various cultures are just one of the ways we benefit
from cultures different from our own. But unfortunately cultural
differences are sometimes used as an excuse for mistreating people.
We often see this in the world around us. It is for this reason
that we are participating in Respect for All week.
and discrimination can cause much pain. Elicit from the students
that prejudice is a negative attitude or opinion that is not based
on knowledge. Discrimination is action based on prejudice. Ask,
students to share examples of prejudice and discrimination? Encourage
them to think of examples that they have experienced or witnessed
in their own lives.
sure the students know the names for various kinds of mistreatment
people experience because of differences. You might make a chart
that lists target groups on the left and ask the students for
the name for systematic mistreatment of those groups. The completed
chart might look like this:
did this activity work in your class? Please share your stories
and other feedback with us! Email: email@example.com.