Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Don't Laugh at Me
Lesson 1
From Unit: All for One
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Learners identify stereotypical and discriminatory behaviors and practices. They define and give examples of positive actions and concepts related to addressing issues of intolerance. 


One Forty-Five Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • define discrimination and describe how it manifests itself within a school climate.
  • describe how the work of Peter Yarrow seeks to end discriminatory actions toward others.
  • describe a personal action plan for decreasing exclusionary and discriminating behaviors which will contribute to the common good.


  • Teacher copy of Stand and Deliver handout
  • video/audio recording or lyrics for the song Don’t Laugh at Me (See Bibliographical References)
  • Student copies of Biography of Peter Yarrow (See Bibliographical References)
  • Poster paper and markers
  • Sticky notes for student use
Handout 1
Stand and Deliver

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Have students sit in a large circle and quietly participate in an activity that helps them reflect on different ways people experience intolerance. The directions are in the handout "Stand and Deliver." After the activity, discuss student reflections on how they felt during the activity.

  • Pass out lyrics and/or play the song, "Don’t Laugh at Me" by Peter Yarrow. Ask learners to identify the hurtful behaviors/actions expressed in the song. You may extend the discussion to include other hurtful behaviors, attitudes that show a lack of respect for diverse people in school. 
  • Ask learners if they have ever felt "picked on." Have them do a reflective journal activity with the following topic: Describe a situation where you felt excluded or unwelcome. How has that event affected you? If all persons are "created equal," why is it that they are not actually treated the same in real-life situations? Assure the learners that this writing is for their reflection only, they will not be expected to share the information and it will not be graded.
  • Discuss what positive behaviors would decrease these feelings at school and promote a safer school community? After they offer suggestions, tell them that acting for the common good is "philanthropic behavior."
  • Working in a whole group setting, write and define the following terms separate poster papers to hang around the room.
    • empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to and vicariously experiencing the feelings and thoughts of another
    • prejudice: injury or damage resulting from some judgement or action in disregard of one’s rights (law); preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience
    • stereotype: standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group that represents an oversimplified opinion
    • philanthropy: private and individual action intended for the common good
    • altruism: a belief that human beings should act in ways that help others; a selfless concern for the welfare of others
    • human rights: rights regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons
    • social action: individual or group behavior that involves interaction with other individuals or groups working toward social reform
  • Give students 3-5 sticky notes to write an example for three to five of the defined terms. They may write about a time they have observed the concept or how it impacts them or the common good. For example, "My dad has empathy for me because he also had acne when he was a teen." or "The Selma to Montgomery march in Alabama was an example of social action." They put their notes on the corresponding poster papers and walk around and read others' examples. 



Journal reflections and the discussion throughout the exercise may be used as an assessment of learning.

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Charlene Austin
Ionia Public Schools
Douglas Welch Community/Alt. Ed Center
Ionia, MI 48846


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Stand and Deliver

Directions: Ask participants to seat themselves in a circle, in chairs or on the floor, so that they can see everyone. The moderator should stand or sit in the circle. Explain that statements will be read that indicate the complexity of diversity and experience. Ask that as each statement is read, those who identify with that statement should stand. The entire activity should be done in total silence until the debriefing segment. Allow time for participants to observe and encourage them to consider the following:

  • who is standing or sitting with you
  • how you are feeling.

Between each statement, thank participants and ask them to be seated again and read another statement. 

Stand if you identify as…

  1. born in the U.S.
  2. born in another country
  3. an only child
  4. the youngest child
  5. the oldest child
  6. the middle child
  7. someone who lived away from home
  8. African-American
  9. Hispanic
  10. Arab American
  11. Native-American
  12. Asian-American/Pacific Islander
  13. Middle Eastern
  14. a member of an ethnic group not mentioned previously
  15. able to speak a language other than English
  16. spiritual, but not religious
  17. religious
  18. someone who has been teased about your accent or your voice, or told that you could not sing
  19. someone who has a family member or a friend who has a disability that you can or cannot see
  20. someone who has been raised in a single-parent household
  21. someone who has been raised in a household with extended family, such as aunts, uncles and/or grandparents
  22. someone who has parents who have been divorced from one another
  23. someone who has parents who have been married only to each other for 20 years or more
  24. someone who has had a close family member/friend die
  25. someone who has both parents still living
  26. someone who has felt alone, unwelcome or afraid at some time in your life
  27. someone who has been teased or made fun of for wearing glasses, braces, a hearing aid or because of the clothes you wear, your height, weight, complexion, or size or shape of your body
  28. someone who has felt pressure from friends or an adult to do something that you did not want to do and felt sorry or shame afterwards
  29. someone who has been discriminated against because of your age
  30. someone who has been discriminated against because of your gender
  31. someone who has been discriminated against because of your race
  32. someone who has broken a law and gotten caught
  33. someone who has broken a law and not gotten caught
  34. someone who has stood by and watched while someone was emotionally or physically hurt and said or did nothing because you were too afraid
  35. someone who is planning to speak out and do something from now on when you see someone being pressured to do something they do not want to do
  36. someone who has the feeling that one person can make a difference
  37. someone who feels that tolerance of diversity is a must if we are to survive as a global community

Philanthropy Framework:


Dr. Wanda, Administrator INDIANAPOLIS, IN11/16/2006 2:48:37 PM

Wow! This is terrific! In a nation where violence is rampant and bullying in suburban schools has taken us to guns & deaths at school, this should be a required unit. As a former HS principal & Director over 13 Alternative Schools in an urban district, I have seen it performed and worked into a curriculum, but this presentation is great! (And Peter, Mark and Steve's song should make us all stop & think!)

Dr. Leah Amyakar, Associate Professor Phoenix, AZ3/27/2010 9:57:51 PM

It is difficult to listen to Peter's song and not be brought to tears. We have all known kids who were bullied and known bullies as well. It is high time this insidious issue is addressed. Everyon can help.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:All for One Summary


Don't Laugh at Me
Living Together as One
Who's In, Who's Out?
Allies and Actions
We Can Help to Make a Change!

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