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Teacher Lesson Return to "View Me as a Human Being, Not a Terrorist"
View Me as a Human Being, Not a Terrorist
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Fighting Bias and Stereotypes

Story Summary: A Muslim student faces ignorant and stereotyping comments from peers (and even from a teacher). He speaks up and gets positive reactions from peers. An experience with airport security, however, makes him anxious and causes him to question whether he should hide is faith. Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric further stokes his anxiety.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students increase empathy with other youths’ experiences.
• Students will initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1).
• Students will produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4).

Before Reading the Story (10 min)
This opening activity will activate background knowledge to boost reading comprehension and set the emotional tone for the story.

1. Welcome students to the group. Introduce the lesson by telling them you will be reading a true story by a teen who is stereotyped by friends at school and profiled at the airport based on his appearance.

2. Introduce Concentric Circle activity by explaining to the group they will be getting to know one another by sharing and listening. Divide students into two groups: one group forms an inner circle; the other forms an outer circle. Inner circle shares first with their partner from the outer circle who practices active listening. After a minute; switch so that the outer circle shares with their partner from the inner circle. Outer circle then takes one step to their left, enabling them to face a new partner for the second prompt. Repeat three rounds using the following prompts:

Prompt 1: Think about a time when you felt like you didn’t fit in with a person or group. [Pause to give students a chance to reflect a moment.] What were the circumstances? How did you feel?
After both partners have had a chance to share, the outer circle members move one step to the left to face new partner.

Prompt 2: Think about a time you either stood up for something you believed, or didn’t stand up, even though you thought you should. What was the situation? How do you feel about it now?
Outer circle members take another step to the left, so each person has a new partner.

Prompt 3: Talk about a time you felt you had to hide part of yourself or your identity in order to fit in or to protect yourself from prejudice or discrimination. What was the situation? How did you feel?

3. Large group debrief: Bring pairs back into the large group and ask the following questions:
• What did you discover about yourself and/or your partner(s) during the activity?
• Why is it sometimes difficult to stand up for what you believe?
• What’s it like to be (or to witness someone else being) the target of discrimination?

During Reading (20 min)
By practicing active reading strategies while reading aloud and discussing as a group, students build comprehension and support fluency.

1. Introduce the story (see summary above)

2. Share the expectations for a group read-aloud; volunteers take turns reading aloud as much or as little as they would like. As the teacher, you may stop periodically to discuss or check in on active reading by asking students to share their responses to the story.

3. Tell students they will practice an active reading strategy called reading for a purpose. This will help them read for a purpose and be prepared to use the text in later activities.

4. Reading for a purpose directions: When you notice Yousef struggle with feeling comfortable with who he is and what he believes, put an S in the margin of the story. When you notice Yousef practice standing up for himself and his beliefs put a P in the margin of the story.

5. While sitting in a circle, read the story aloud together, stop to discuss periodically, supporting peer-to-peer talk and non-judgmental listening. To do this, ask for volunteers to share what they wrote S or P next to the text and why. Alternately, you can pose an open question such as “What stands out to you in this section and why?

6. Next, ask the group to further consider these questions:
• What did Yousef learn about his religion in school?
• What did Yousef learn about his religion at home?
• In what way does Yousef counteract stereotypes of Muslims?
• Yousef decides not to hide the necklace that represents his faith while at the airport, in spite of feeling uncertain about doing so. What informs his decision? What are the consequences?
• Does anyone connect with Yousef’s story? Why?

After Reading the Story (15 min)
During this post-reading activity, students will make connections, build understanding, and rehearse positive behaviors.

1. Introduce the social media post activity by explaining to the group that they will be using their imaginations to create a social media post that shares their reason for standing up to stereotyping/discrimination.

2. Social media post directions: UUsing what you learned from Yousef’s story, and drawing on your own experiences or connections to the story, write/draw a Facebook-type post where you take a stand against stereotyping. Try to use language that would make your post go viral!
• You may include: how stereotyping other people affects its targets, the school community, or society as a whole, as well as ideas on how to prevent stereotyping/discrimination.
• You should include a reason why you are sharing your post.
• Optional: include a hashtag in your post to spread awareness about stereotyping/discrimination.

3. Have students create their social media post on blank sheets of paper.

4. Once most students have complete their writing/drawing, have students begin to pass around their posts to peers and have them “like” them by responding with at least one positive comment that adds to the discussion. Try to have as many students comment on one another’s posts as possible in the time allotted.

5. Thank students for being thoughtful members of the group, working to make connections to Yousef’s story, reflecting on their own lives, and sharing with one another.

Optional: If your class enjoyed sharing their posts with one another, let them know they can also share them with us by sending a message to our Facebook page ( or sending a tweet to @youthcomm!
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