Living Together as One

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners will analyze the harmful effects of discrimination on our society and give examples of the ways individuals have responded to violations of human dignity.

Lesson Rating 
PrintSix Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • give examples of discrimination in our past and present.
  • analyze how bias and discrimination are harmful to the common good.
  • describe what changes have been made over time to protect the rights of individuals and groups
  • Parent Permission Slip (Handout One)
  • Five red T-shirts
  • Blindfolds, crutches, ear plugs, wheelchairs
  • Video: Journey to a Hate Free Millenium (available free of charge with Teacher Guide see Bibliography)
  • Video: Remember the Titans (optional, see Extension)
Home Connection 

Learners will have to have parents/guardians sign a permission slip for participation in this lesson. See Parent Permission Slip (Handout One).

  • Bernall, Misty. She Said Yes, The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall. New York: Pocket Books, 2000. ISBN: 0743400526
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Bantam, 1981. ISBN: 0553210092
  • Scrapo, Brent. Journey to a Hate-Free Millenium. New Light Media. Directed by Marvin Bedogne and Brent Scarpo. 1999. Videocassette. UPC: 978097173082
    Movie available free of charge with a Teacher Guide from
  • Remember the Titans. Directed by Boaz Yakin. 114 min. Disney Studios, 2001. Videocassette. ASIN: B000056VP4
  • Simmons, Rachel. Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. Harvest Books, 2003. ISBN: 1056027348
  • Yarrow, Peter. Don’t Laugh At Me. www.Don’


  1. Teacher Note: The day prior to starting this lesson, tell the learners that you are beginning a lesson on discrimination and its effects. Hand out permission slips to be signed and returned the following day. Have permission slips signed to avoid potential problems that may arise in the learner selection process. See Parent/Guardian Permission Slip (Handout One).

    Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the learners to fold a half-sheet of paper in half from top to bottom. On the left side they should put the word "pig" and below it list some terms describing the animal. After one minute, have the learners write the words "Miss Piggy" on the right side and list some terms to describe her. Ask how their perceptions changed when a specific example of the term was mentioned. Then read to the learners this description of Miss Piggy from an Internet site:

    "I always knew," Miss Piggy once told TV Guide, "that I was destined for le top." Glamorous, stroppy and single-minded in pursuit of her frog, the perfect frock, and worldwide fame, Miss Piggy has been showing tarts how it’s done for nearly thirty years. The most famous martial arts practitioner since Bruce Lee -- and one who looks a lot better in pearls and elbow-length lavender gloves -- Miss Piggy lives life according to her own rules: "Eat what you want and exercise your prerogative." Miss Piggy has proved that a big snout (sorry, nose) and an ample figure are no bar to becoming a sex goddess, and that there’s absolutely no place that a determined porker with a talented dressmaker cannot go. She has sung, danced and rustled up tension with some of the most luscious leading men of our times. Yet asked by the New York Times if fame had changed her, she said, "I am still just little Moi, the same gorgeous and supremely talented pig. Beauty is my curse."

  2. Day One: Teacher Note: Prior to this lesson explain to the five selected students their role and its purpose in the activity to the students. Establish their willingness to participate.

  3. Select five learners and have them put on red T-shirts. Continue with classroom instruction from the previous day, not mentioning discrimination or the reason you had the learners wear the shirts. Over the next half hour, ignore these learners and treat them differently from other learners (i.e., if they answer a question incorrectly, mock them, or refuse to even call on them). Use as much positive reinforcement for the rest of the class as possible. After a half hour, stop the class, move the desks into a circle, and form a large discussion group. Reflect on the reasons you had the learners put the shirts on (to demonstrate discrimination). Ask the five students to share their feelings during the activity.

  4. Ask for examples of other people who have been discriminated against in the past and question how it must have felt to be discriminated against. Towards the end of class, say, "Now imagine a world where none of these negative feelings exist. A world where others won’t judge you because you look, think or act differently than they do. A world where although there are differences, each one is embraced and celebrated. Over the next few days, we are going to be looking at the differences that have caused people to be excluded in the past, excluded in the present, and discussing ways to ensure we are a more inclusive community." Assign a journal entry based on the experiences of today.

  5. Day Two: At the beginning of class time, have the song "Don’t Laugh at Me" playing. As learners enter the room, hand them a different item symbolic of various disabilities. For example, blindfold some of the learners, have some wear ear plugs, give some crutches or a wheelchair to use. The learners must use their items all class period.

  6. Show the movie Journey to a Hate-Free Millenium.

  7. Have the learners remove their disability item only after the movie is complete.

  8. Have the learners write a two-page summary in their journal on how this experience made them feel.

  9. Day Three: Have the song "Don’t Laugh at Me" playing as the learners enter. Discuss the events that occurred in the video from the previous day, and have the learners analyze how the different disability items affected their views and understanding of the movie.

  10. Discuss the ways people discriminate and identify different groups who have experienced discrimination. Define hate crime.

  11. Give a historical briefing on hate crimes and discrimination.

  12. Introduce and discuss laws that have been enacted to eliminate discrimination. Discuss the Bill of Rights, Gettysburg Address and Core Democratic Values.

  13. Day Four: Have the song "Don’t Laugh at Me" playing as learners enter. Invite in a panel of diverse people who are in various minority groups to speak to the learners. They may include people from the following minority groups: disabled, religion, race, ethnicity, economic status, sexual orientation, gender and physical appearance. They may want to tell a history of the experience they have had with discrimination, both positive and negative. Allow for a question and answer period at the end.

  14. Assign a one-page journal reflection on which person in the panel affected the learner the most, and with which person they identified the most. It should include an explanation of why they believe they identified with the person.


Journal entries and active participation may be used as forms of assessment.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Identify constitutional principles that protect minorities in a republic. Relate these principles to the role of nonprofit organizations.