August 2, 2019
by Meena Srinivasan

Lesson plan

Understanding Communities and Differences

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Grade Subject

Students will be able to recognize assumptions that they make.

(15 minutes)
  • Join the class in a circle, seated or standing.
  • Hold and show them one potato in your hand.
  • Tell them that you haven't thought much about potatoes, and to you, each one has always been pretty much the same.
  • Say that by categorizing potatoes in this way, you have almost taken them for granted.
  • Mention that, in some ways, potatoes are like people.
  • Pass out potatoes to each student.
  • Ask them to look closely at their potato, and to get to know it.
  • Tell them to look at the shape and get to know its bruises and bumps.
  • Ask them to make friends with their potato by looking at it in this way for a minute in silence.
  • Explain to them that they can introduce their potato to the class after they take a minute to get to know it.
  • After a minute, invite each student to introduce their "friend" to the class.
  • Pass the bag around to collect all potatoes.
  • Say, "It seems as if potatoes are a lot like people. Sometimes we place individuals in one group all together and think they are all the same. When we think a group is all alike, it is like saying we have not given the time to get to know each person. If we take time to get to know each person, we will find that everyone is unique and special in their own way, just like our potato friends here."
  • Empty the bag of potatoes into the center of the circle.
  • Tell students to come up and find their potato.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask, "What are some groups we usually lump together and think of all the people in the group as 'the same'?"
  • Build upon students' answers, and offer some examples, such as kids who live in rural settings, kids who live in the city, all of the girls, or all of the boys.
  • Ask, "Why is it important to not lump people together, or think they are all the same, because they are from the same area or are the same gender?"
  • Write the word "assumptions" on the board.
  • Ask the class what an assumption is.
  • Write the following definition of assumption on the board: "Something that is considered to be true or certain, without any proof."
  • Explain that many times, we may make assumptions of others in school, in our community, and even in our own class.
(20 minutes)
  • Tell the class that they will participate in an activity connected to breaking assumptions, called "Raise Your Hand If You..."
  • Explain that you will make a statement, and students should raise their hands if the statement is true for them.
  • Tell them to notice how they feel as they raise their hand, or as they don't raise their hand.
  • After each statement, pause to allow students to look around the room and observe their classmates.
  • Recite the following statements:
    1. Raise your hand if you have ever been picked on or called an unkind name.
    2. Raise your hand if you have ever been left out.
    3. Raise your hand if you have ever been left out because you are a girl.
    4. Raise your hand if you have ever been left out because you are a boy.
    5. Raise your hand if someone you care about has been picked on because of the color of their skin.
    6. Raise your hand if you or someone you know has a disability.
    7. Raise your hand if anyone has told you not to show emotions, be afraid, or to feel sad.
    8. Raise your hand if you have ever felt alone or unwelcome.
    9. Raise your hand if someone you knew was being picked on, and you were too afraid to say anything.
  • Pause and ask students to take a few deep breaths.
  • Invite them to share what emotions came up for them during this activity.
  • Ask the following questions, one at a time:
    1. What did you learn about the class?
    2. What did you learn about yourself?
    3. What would you tell others about this experience?
    4. What can you take away from this activity that would support a more welcoming classroom and school?
  • Show the class the Hammer Out Assumptions to Create Unity worksheet, and read through its instructions.
  • Model how to complete the worksheet.
  • Note: If this activity brings up larger issues, make time to check in with students one-on-one.
(15 minutes)
  • Dismiss students back to their seats, and distribute worksheets.
  • Have them begin working.

Enrichment: Ask advanced students to write a short poem about diversity and inclusion.

Support: Provide one-on-one or group support to some students during the independent working time.

(5 minutes)
  • During the independent working time, walk around the room and connect with students to assess their comprehension of the meaning of assumptions.
(10 minutes)
  • Bring the class back together in a circle.
  • Display lyrics for the song "If I Had a Hammer" on the board.
  • Then, play the song "If I Had a Hammer."
  • Ask, "How can we take what we have learned to hammer out any assumptions and bring unity to our class and school?"
  • Ask students to hold up the hammers they made.
  • Explain that their hammers will be displayed in the classroom as a symbol of unity and breaking through assumptions.

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