Courage to Be You (7th Grade)

6, 7, 8

Students examine what discrimination is and ways to impact injustice and make change for the common good.

PrintOne 50 Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • identify a time when he/she felt like a stranger and reflect on those feelings.
  • define discrimination and articulate the similarity between feeling like a stranger and feeling discrimination.
  • identify and discuss ways to reduce or eliminate discrimination in the classroom, school, and community.


  • Students research the life of Vivien Thomas and Hamilton Naki and create and share a storyboard.
  • Compare how Vivien Thomas and Hamilton Naki responded to the discrimination they encountered in the field of medicine.
  • Students conduct research and contribute to a wall display of people that have overcome discrimination and become philanthropists.
  • Learner copies of Handout One: Personal Experience
  • Large piece of paper (approximately 3' x 3') and markers.

Optional Extensions:

Home Connection 

Ask the learners to investigate one other person in history who overcame adversity and contributed to the common good. Some examples include Rosa Parks, Ben Carson, Sojourner Truth, Jackie Robinson, George W. Carver, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes, Maggie Walker, Maya Angelou, Bill Cosby, Miles Davis, and W.E.B. Du Bois. This project may be assigned as homework or as an in-class project. Students may present the information on a shadow picture outline, or silhouette, of the person and display it on a Wall of Courage: Philanthropists Who Overcame Prejudicial Discrimination.


Optional (Extensions):


  1. Anticipatory Set: Write the word stranger on the display board. Ask the students if they can think of a time when they felt like a stranger, perhaps in an unfamiliar setting: a new class, a new school, a new team, or a new neighborhood. Ask them to share their thoughts and feelings, including their fears and their concerns. Ask them to recall how it turned out. Were their fears and concerns legitimate, or did they melt into something less over time? Give the learners 3-5 minutes to jot down responses to the prompts offered in Handout One: Personal Experience. Tell them they are not to sign their name because you will be collecting them and reading some of them anonymously to the class.

  2. As the class is writing their responses to the prompts, write the word discrimination on the display board next to the word stranger.

  3. After 3-5 minutes, collect the Handout One: Personal Experience papers from each learner. Ask the class to define what the term discrimination means to them. Definition: "the unfair treatment of one person or group, usually because of prejudice about race, ethnicity, age, religion, or gender" (Encarta Dictionary).

  4. Arrange the learners into groups of two or three and have them briefly discuss similarities and differences between the concepts of discrimination and stranger.

  5. (Teacher Note: While the groups are discussing these questions, look through the Personal Experience papers and select four or five that provide good examples.)

  6. After the learners have had sufficient time to discuss, have them share their thoughts. Record the essence of their discussions on the display board.

  7. Read aloud some of the responses to the first two prompts on Handout One: Personal Experience. Ask the students to listen for the fears and concerns that arise when someone feels like a stranger.

  8. Brainstorm with the class examples of discrimination from history. List these on the display board.

  9. Read a number of student responses to prompt three of the Personal Experience handout. Tell the learners to listen closely to what reduces fears and concerns. Ask them to identify what they know or have heard that can be helpful in reducing or eliminating feelings of discrimination or being a stranger.

  10. Return to the small groups and have each group identify one strategy they can use to reduce or eliminate discrimination and or feelings of being a stranger in their own classroom, school, or neighborhood.

  11. Write the word Discrimination in the middle of the large piece of paper. Ask each group to write words or phrases on the poster that express a way to reduce or eliminate discrimination in their classroom, school, and community. Display this mural in the school for all to see.

  12. Students draft and sign a pledge that they will allow no student in their school to be discriminated against or treated like a stranger. Students pledge to play a role in making sure this pledge is kept and available for signing by all of the students in their school.


The assessment for this lesson centers on the learner's group participation and depth of reflection evident in their responses in the class discussion and poster.

Cross Curriculum 

Investigate a global community that does not respect the rights of minorities, and contact Amnesty International to determine what can be done to petition the government of the country. Investigate anti-bullying and related diversity strategies with the result being the development of a plan for the school community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Identify historic examples of citizens using civil society organizations to petition the government.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
      3. Benchmark MS.7 Identify women and minorities who are or have been leaders in the civil society sector.
    3. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Give an example of individual philanthropic action that influenced the nation's history.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Identify positive philanthropic historic acts or events that helped build the community, state, and nation.
    4. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
      4. Benchmark MS.9 Identify pro-social behavior in different cultures and traditions.