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Lesson Plan

Promoting Diversity in the Classroom and School Library through Social Action

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Promoting Diversity in the Classroom and School Library through Social Action

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Michelle Ota

Seattle, Washington

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • discuss and analyze various stereotypes in our society, especially as shown in children's literature.

  • analyze library resources independently or in small groups for evidence of stereotypes.

  • locate matching resources that provide a diverse and balanced view of the topics explored.

  • participate in a social action activity to encourage others to read texts which show diverse and balanced views.

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Session One

  1. Share the three well-known Disney stories, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella (or a similar collection of texts).

  2. As students are likely to be familiar with the stories, ask them to focus on the illustrations.

  3. As students share observations on the text, note their comments on the board or on chart paper. Note that you’ll return to this list in later sessions, so recording your findings on chart paper is preferable if it’s likely that information on the board will be erased.

  4. Ask questions to help students discuss and evaluate the images included in the text. The following questions can help guide your discussion:

    • What do women look like?

    • What kind of work do women do?

    • What do men look like?

    • What kind of work do men do?

    • How do women and men interact with each other?

    • What other features do you notice about the characters? Think about race, ethnicity, religion, class, age, and so forth.
  5. With your basic observations recorded, ask students to comment on how diverse and balanced the representations in the book are. Note their comments on the board or on chart paper.

  6. Using the comments you’ve recorded as a basis, create a list of the characteristics that would demonstrate that a text is examining is or isn’t stereotyped.

  7. Ask students to explore a more diverse text in detail. Divide students into several small groups and give each a picture book to analyze. Possible books to explore include The Paper Bag Princess or Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters.

  8. Ask students to consider the same guiding questions used above to examine the text and pictures:

    • What do women look like?

    • What kind of work do women do?

    • What do men look like?

    • What kind of work do men do?

    • How do women and men interact with each other?

    • What other features do you notice about the characters? Think about race, ethnicity, religion, class, age, and so forth.
  9. Allow students the rest of the session to work on their analysis. Explain that they will present and discuss their findings with the rest of the class during the next session. Each group will have up to five minutes to share their findings.

  10. Circulate among students as they work on this project. The purpose of this activity is for students to practice the skills that they’ll use in a focused, individual examination of the texts; therefore, provide positive feedback on the analytical skills that they’ll need to use in later sessions. Likewise, make suggestions for issues that students may be missing in their observations of the texts.

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Session Two

  1. Remind students of the goals of their group analysis. Answer any questions students have. Give students five to ten minutes to make last-minute preparations and to practice their presentations.

  2. Have groups present their findings, sticking closely to the five-minutes-per-group guideline that you’ve established. As students work, ask them to connect to the list of characteristics created during the previous session.

  3. Ask students to listen for details from the presentations that help prove whether the texts stereotype gender roles, race, ethnicity, religion, class, age, and so forth.

  4. Once all presentations are complete, ask students to point out details from the pieces that suggest whether the books stereotype (or don’t). Make a list of these characteristics on the board or on chart paper. Again, you will return to this list in later sessions, so chart paper would be preferred if your board is likely to be erased between sessions.

  5. By the end of class, arrange the lists into a series of checklist questions that students can use to analyze texts.

  6. (Optional) This can be a good opportunity for a minilesson on parallelism. Note how to make sentence structure and verb tense match as you revise the brainstormed list into the checklist. Talk aloud as you write the sentences so that students understand the composing choices that you are making. Provide positive feedback when students create parallel items for the checklist themselves.

  7. Conclude the session by asking students how considering all these books as a group influences their ideas: What happens when you consider books that show stereotypes along side books that show more diverse and balanced representations or that represent different cultures? The goal is to identify how together the books can demonstrate a more accurate and complete picture of people and at the same time can help readers identify stereotypes and the harm they can do.

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Session Three

  1. Review the checklist of questions that students composed during the previous class session. Answer any questions, and make any corrections or additions.

  2. Share the Promoting Diverse Reading in the Library Assignment Sheet with students, sharing a sample bookmark with students. Explain that the bookmarks will be tucked inside books in the library to encourage readers to read accompanying texts and to urge them to think critically about the images and details in the texts that they read. Students will need to choose at least two books, but can focus on more than two books as desired.

  3. As you discuss the assignment, explain how the checklist that you’ve compiled can be used to analyze the texts for the project.

  4. Share the Bookmark Rubric that will be used to evaluate the finished work, and point out connections between the characteristics represented on the rubric and the ideas on the checklist.

  5. Brainstorm a list of kinds of texts that students can use for this project—biographies, fiction, picture books, and so on. You might be sure to identify possible focal points such as books on famous Americans, or books which explore important scientific contributions. Do not limit students’ explorations to fictional picture books; instead, give them the chance to investigate representations in a subject area of their own interest.

  6. Explain how students will access texts for this project. Class sessions devoted to library time are ideal, but if a library visit is not possible, be sure that students understand when and where to find the resources that they are evaluating.

  7. As preparation for library time, divide students into groups and ask them to brainstorm information they might include on their bookmarks (a definition of stereotype, harms of stereotypes, how you can spot a stereotype, examples of balanced and diverse literature).

  8. Conclude the session by having groups share the ideas that they’ve gathered. Record the suggestions on the board or on chart paper.

  9. Be sure to emphasize that bookmarks do not need to include all the information that you’ve identified. The list simply outlines possibilities.

  10. If desired, students can begin the project immediately, identifying books from the classroom library or their own book collections to use for the project.

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Session Four

  1. Review the project and answer any questions students have about the activity.

  2. Devote this session to free time to explore and collect resources in the library.

  3. As students identify texts, encourage them to share their findings with one another or in small groups.

  4. Encourage students to ask the librarian for help as necessary.

  5. After locating books, students can begin drafting their bookmarks. Remind students that the audience is other students in the school who will pull one of the books they’ve identified off the shelf. The bookmark’s goal is to suggest additional books that the person might read and to suggest things that the reader might look for in the books while reading.

  6. Remind students to return to the list of possible information to include on the bookmarks from the previous session as they work on their drafts.

  7. Share the brochure layouts from the Printing Press Layouts handout so that student can plan ideas for a particular layout. Students will use two panes from the brochure for their bookmarks.

  8. If necessary, students can continue working on their rough drafts for homework. Students should come to the next session ready to create the final published version of their bookmarks.

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Session Five

  1. Demonstrate the ReadWriteThink Printing Press for students, showing the pertinent options. Students will use only two panes of the brochure. Once printed, cut off the remaining third pane; then fold the bookmark in half and tape the edges. Students can decorate the bookmarks with markers, colored pencils, and so forth. Pictures can be drawn on the bookmarks or students can clip images from magazines and glue or tape them in place.

  2. Ask students to print at least three copies of their work (one for themselves, one for you to respond to, and one for the school or public library). If class resources allow, additional copies can be made to share with interested students in the class.

  3. This will be a busy, active session so ensure that students understand the products they are to submit by the end of the class before releasing them to work on their final copies.

  4. Allow students the remainder of the class to print their bookmarks.

  5. If possible, schedule an additional class session where students can share their books and bookmarks with the class.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Focus the project on books that fit a particular event or season. For instance, you might encourage students to choose books about a particular holiday, with the goal of sharing a balanced exploration of the holiday by reading additional texts included on the bookmark. In the same way, you might ask students to choose books related to a particular unit that you are studying (e.g., the holocaust, civil rights).

  • If students find the library collection is limited in certain areas or are aware of a particular title that would help make the collection more diverse, invite them to use the Letter Generator to write to the librarian, school administration, or school board. suggesting titles and/or authors to be added to the library.

  • Expand the focus on texts to include magazines, videos, and newspapers. Rather than bookmarks, flyers or longer brochures might be more appropriate for these resources.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • For formal assessment, use the Diverse Readings Rubric. Additionally, you can ask students to freewrite on the following reflective question: As you examined books for this project, what did you realize that you didn’t notice before about the resources in your library or about a particular book that you hadn’t noticed before?

  • Informal feedback from students who read and respond to students’ bookmarks and spontaneous discussion of various stereotypes are also valid outcomes. Provide supportive comments for discussion that reveals recognitions about how people and cultures are represented in texts.

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