En la Clase: “Everybody is Unique–Teaching Respect in a Racially Diverse Classroom”

In keeping with this month’s back-to-school theme on multicultural education, I thought it would be helpful to feature different lesson plans or mini-units focused on issues relevant to multicultural education. For the next few weeks, each “En la Clase” post will highlight a different mini-unit and include a pdf of the lesson plans discussed in the post (all of which have been linked to the appropriate common core standards).  Often times, many of the resources we share on Vamos a Leer are easier to adapt to middle school or high school classrooms.  The lessons you’ll see in the coming weeks will focus primarily on the younger grades.  Many times parents and educators believe we don’t need to (or even shouldn’t) discuss things like race, class, gender, difference, or acceptance, with our younger children.  Yet research has shown that young child do notice these things.  They talk about them, think about them, and draw conclusions based on what they see and hear, which for me means we shouldn’t wait until they’re older to begin discussing these things in explicit ways in the classroom.

This week’s unit, “Everybody is Unique: Teaching Respect in a Racially Diverse Classroom,” was written by Carey Rojas, a pre-service teacher in UNM’s Teacher Education Program.  Her lessons were written primarily for first grade students, but could be easily adapted for k-3.  In writing the lessons Rojas had a specific purpose in mind–she wanted activities that would help to create a classroom environment that is accepting and repsectful of all racial diversity, while also encouraging students to develop empathy and understanding towards others.

Todd ParrTo get an idea of what you’ll find, I’ll give you a few quick highlights of my favorite parts.  Rojas’ plans integrate engaging activities in literacy, art and dialogue/discussion that I’m sure will keep your students’ attention.  Using Todd Parr’s It’s Okay to Be Different students do some great vocabulary building using words like diversity and unique.  In the second lesson students create their own version of a person using three different pieces of paper: one for the head, one for the torso, and one for the lower body.  The part I think the students will really enjoy comes when it’s time to put their person together.  Students don’t get their own pieces back, instead they tape together three different pieces ensuring that each student has pieces created by three other students to create a truly unique person.  Then, they write their newly created person’s story.  The fourth lesson’s “What I Like” activity is a great community builder and a perfect activity for the beginning of the year.
I hope you’ll check out her entire unit.  I think they’re perfect for that first month of school–setting a great tone for the entire school year.

Check out the pdf of Rojas’ complete unit here.

Feel free to share any of your own ideas or comments below! We’d love to hear them!

11 thoughts on “En la Clase: “Everybody is Unique–Teaching Respect in a Racially Diverse Classroom”

  1. Pingback: En la Clase: “Multiculturalism–Learning About Different Cultures” | Vamos a Leer

  2. I have a suggestion for Carey Rojas’ lesson “Everybody is Unique: Teaching Respect in a Racially Diverse Classroom”. Use papers of varying shades of light to dark for skin tones for the body parts. For example, if there are 24 first graders, pass out 8 papers of 3 shades for each body part. When the completed body parts are ready, redistribute them so each student gets a head, a torso, and legs of the same shade. The teacher may need to come up with a few extras to make this work out.

    • I think Carey did a great job too! With the themes it covers, I think it would be wonderful to adapt it for high school. If you come up with any ideas, please come back and share them! I’m sure other teachers would love to hear them. Thanks for your comment–we’ve got you entered in the drawing for Gringolandia now!

  3. Pingback: En la Clase: Celebrating Differences and Similarities-Exploring Identity | Vamos a Leer

  4. Pingback: En la Clase: A Year of Mask-Making | Vamos a Leer

  5. I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to come across this site. I’m really looking forward to following and learning more from your resources. I facilitate intergroup dialogues with high school and college students.

    I would just like to share another resource that I have found helpful in facilitating dialogues for diversity and social justice.

    Respecting Diversity in the Classroom & Beyond: Multicultural guidelines: http://www.relandothompkins.com/2011/05/15/respecting-diversity-in-the-classroom-multicultural-guidelines/

    • I’m so glad that you found us! Thanks for the comment and for sharing your resource. I think your guidelines are right on in terms of addressing a lot that happens when we attempt to have dialogues around race, diversity, social justice, and privilege. These are things we need to think about regardless of the age/grade level we’re working with. I’m looking forward to continuing to read your blog–you’ve got some great discussions going on there!

  6. Pingback: En la Clase: Welcome Back to Another Year! | Vamos a Leer

  7. Pingback: En la Clase: Building a Multicultural Classroom: Ideas for the Start of the Year | Vamos a Leer

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