Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #6

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Understanding Our Treatment of Others: A Writing Exercise

Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Social Studies

In this lesson, students explore what it means to be "in the minority". Students then experience what it feels to suddenly be treated differently by peers by participating in an activity in which they are "labelled" with statements that determine how others in their groups will relate to them.

SchoolNet News Network (SNN) gives the teacher and student online resource material, interaction with teachers/students across Canada, professional assistance and an online publishing outlet for student writing in a safe, structured environment.


  • SNN Writing Guide (for reference)
  • Sample Opinion Article from SNN Reporter
  • Tape recorders or video cameras (optional)
  • plain white mailing labels, each with one of the following phrases written neatly on it (create three or four stickers with each phrase):

    - Ignore my ideas
    - Praise me
    - Agree with me
    - Argue with me
    - Everything I say is stupid
    - I annoy you
    - I confuse you
    - Interrupt me



1. WARM-UP/DO-NOW: In their journals, students respond to the following questions (written on the board prior to class):

  • What does it mean to be "in the minority"?
  • Describe a situation in which you were in the minority.
  • What did it feel like?
  • How might the situation have been different if you had not been in the minority?

Students then share their responses.

. Divide students into small groups of 5-6 students, and explain to students that they will be conducting small group discussions. Then, explain that you are going to place a label on each student's forehead that will determine how other members of the group will react to him or her during their discussion. Have members of each group sit in a tight circle. As an option, have 2-3 students act as reporters for the activity and do a written overview of the class project.

3. Place a label on the head of each student in each group so that no members of the same group have the same label and so that no student sees the phrase on his or her sticker. Students should be absolutely silent during this activity and should not reveal what the labels on other students read. Give students a moment to look at the labels on the students in their groups so that they are prepared to react to each member appropriately.

4. Then, have students respond to the question "Are athletes role models?" To ensure that each student in a group participates, have students first go around their circle, each offering an explanation of his or her views. Students should react to each other as explained on the stickers. After this, students can share more of their ideas, continuing to react to the labels of the members of their group. If you wish, set up a tape recorder or video recorder for each group to document the discussion for later review by the class. While groups are discussing the topic, write all of the phrases written on the stickers on the board.

5. After five to ten minutes, ask students to break away from their groups, look at the list on the board, and write a paragraph in their journals saying which phrase best describes how he or she was treated by the other group members during the discussion. Then, have students remove their stickers, place them underneath their paragraphs in their journals, and write another paragraph discussing whether or not their guesses were correct and why.

6. Handout SNN reporter article as a sample. Have students review article. Then have student copy the following phrases from the blackboard.

  • Describe a time when you felt that someone treated you this way.
  • How did it make you feel?
  • What phrases do people use to make others feel this way?
  • Are there certain people who are often treated this way?

Students should share their responses in a future class.

7. WRAP-UP/ HOMEWORK: If group discussions were recorded, those recordings should be played and discussed in a future class. Then, using the phrases listed above students will write an opinion article about being treated differently from personal experience.

Their article should answer the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How). Use the inverted pyramid which means that articles should be written with the most important information first and the least important last. Use the SNN Writing Guide to show students how to write an article.

Students can publish their article in their own school newspaper or submit it to an online youth ezine.


Students will be evaluated based on initial journal response, participation in class and group discussions, written reflections on group discussion exercise, and thoughtfully written homework assignment.


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