Respect for All Week 2012 activity
for middle & high school students:
Standing up to discrimination
Marieke van Woerkom
diversity and what it means to have a welcoming classroom environment
the terms "prejudice" "stereotype" and "discrimination"
an article about a hate crime in Lowell, MA, and determine who
in the story was the aggressor, who was the target and who were
the role of an ally both in the article and at school
to being an ally and ways of being an ally
a more positive, supportive, welcoming classroom community
feelings (about a hate crime)
up for those who are being targeted
Instruct students in your class to take a few minutes to think
about how we are all a part of different groups and belong to
different communities. Ask students to think about some of the
different groups they are a part of. You may want to hand out
index cards where students can list some of the groups/communities
they are a part of.
that in this gathering you'll ask students to share some of the
groups and communities they just listed. Next we'll appreciate
them with applause. Model the activity by sharing a group or community
you are a part of by standing up and saying "I am _____________."
Then ask everyone else in your class who is part of the same group
(eg , Puerto Rican) to stand up with you and get everyone else
in the class to applaud.
Having modeled the activity with a few of the groups you belong
to, ask several students to stand up and share some of the groups
they are a part of, saying "I am _____________." Have
others in the class stand with them if they belong to the group
as well. As a class, applaud those standing up.
the end of the activity ask your students some or all of the following
was that activity like?
did it feel like to be applauded?
did it feel like to stand as a group?
did it feel like to stand alone?
that we want our class and our school to be the kind of place
where people feel welcomed and celebrated, no matter who they
are or what group they are a part of. We want people to be able
to stand up proudly for who they are and the communities they
represent. This is what Respect for All Week is all about.
Agenda and Objectives (1 minute)
that this week, February
13-18, 2012, is Respect for All week. RFA week is a New York
City Department of Education initiative to counter bullying and
harassment based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender,
sexual orientation, disability and other characteristics. In today's
lesson we will think about steps we can take to counter bullying
and harassment through different activities, including reading
an article about a group of veterans taking a stand.
Defining Terms (14 minutes)
students in what ways cultural difference can enrich our lives,
our classrooms, our learning. Elicit some quick responses from
your students before noting that unfortunately cultural differences
are too often used as an excuse for bullying and harassing people,
driving wedges between us.
the word prejudice on the board or chart paper. Ask the
students what "prejudice" means. Work toward a definition
of prejudice as literally "pre-judgment," a negative
attitude about a group of people not based on knowledge.
if they think some people are prejudiced against teenagers. What
are some of the negative attitudes people have about teenagers?
Elicit some examples from the group and chart them. Your chart
might look something like this:
addicted to junk food
on the phone a lot
rowdy, rude, and disrespectful
let anybody tell them what to do
totally into themselves.
Do some teenagers fit these descriptions? Do all teenagers fit
this description? Who can describe a teenager they 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 being
prejudiced against teenagers?
write the word stereotype on the board or chart paper.
Elicit and explain that the negative statements about teenagers
listed on the chart are examples of "stereotypes." Ask
if anyone can define the word stereotype. Work toward a definition
of stereotype as a general statement about a group of people based
on incomplete and often inaccurate information. Usually it's negative.
write the word discrimination on the board. Elicit and
explain that discrimination is "an action or actions based
on prejudice." Make sure the students understand that prejudice
is an attitude, while discrimination is an action. Ask the students
for an example of discrimination against teenagers - that is,
actions based on prejudice against teenagers. Students might give
examples such as the following: security agents following teenagers
around in stores; police confronting teenagers who are doing nothing
other examples of prejudice and discrimination from the students.
If they have trouble thinking of things, prompt them by mentioning
various groups and asking students to describe prejudiced attitudes
some people have toward the group and forms discrimination might
record the students' ideas, you might make a chart like the one
Have the security agents follow them and encourage them
strong or good at sports
let them play
the activity by saying something along the following lines: We
all have prejudices we carry around in our minds. We all make
generalizations; that's one way our minds make sense of the world.
But when we act on negative judgments and generalizations about
groups of people -judgments and generalizations formed without
sufficient knowledge - we can cause lots of pain to ourselves
need to be aware of our prejudices; counter them by increasing
our knowledge and experience; and work hard to see each person
for who they are. Treating others with respect means seeing them
as individuals and avoiding assumptions about them based on a
group they belong to. This is what Respect for All Week is all
hold 'eat-in' to help immigrants' vandalized restaurant
Ask students to read the article "Vets hold 'eat-in' to help
immigrants' vandalized restaurant" at http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/13/10149681-vets-hold-eat-in-to-help-immigrants-vandalized-restaurant
back together ask students some or all of the following questions:
are your thoughts and feelings about this story?
did the restaurant owner feel after someone threw the rock through
the window of her restaurant?
did she feel when the veterans filled up her restaurant?
do you think it might be significant that it was vets who took
message did it send?
article talks about a hate crime. What is a hate crime?
you look back over the definitions we just created, what category
does hate crime fit into?
were some of the groups/communities mentioned in the article?
roles did they play? Elicit that the man who threw the brick
was the aggressor, the restaurant owner was the target (of discrimination)
and the vets were allies to the restaurant owner.
your students next to think about their school, asking some or
all of the following questions:
Are people at your school treated differently based on what
group they are from? How?
you think it's easy to stand up on behalf of those who are being
teased, bullied or threatened? Why or why not?
might make it easier?
back to the article, what are some of the things we could do
to stand by people when they are targeted either at school or
beyond the school walls?
In closing ask students to discuss the following quote in pairs:
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve
the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends
forth a tiny ripple of hope... and crossing each other from a
million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build
a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression
Robert F. Kennedy
lesson was written for TeachableMoment.org by Marieke
van Woerkom. We welcome your comments. Please email them to: