Lesson Plan: Debunking Our Own Stereotypes

Lesson: Cultural Sensitivity and Spoken Word Poetry      Course: ENG3U        Time: (79×2 min)

Lesson Description

In this lesson, students will be introduced to descriptive and spoken word forms of poetry from the standpoint of aboriginal stereotypes. The lesson is broken down into an activation of prior knowledge for parts of speech and some word games, a discussion of spoken word poetry and descriptive language, followed by listening to and reading along with Thomas King’s I’m Not The Indian You Had In Mind. After discussing the poem together, we will brainstorm stereotypes about ourselves vs what and who we really are. Following some more word games to get students thinking in the right direction, students will adapt King’s poem to their own purposes, and create their own stereotype-busting piece (The Worksheet).

As we have some ELL students in the class, emphasis will be placed on ensuring parts of speech are known through explicit review, frequent monitoring, and the use of an active professional learning community. ELLs will be encouraged to use translators available through their phones, and their peers to help with context. Ample time will be given to ensure helpers can complete their own work and assist with ELL peers.

Stage 1: Desired Results

Fundamental Concepts/Skills

Contextual placement of parts of speech
Stereotypes and the Reality – Comparative skills


Big Ideas/Essential Question

What makes us who we are? Who or what defines us?


Ontario Curricular Overall Expectation

Speaking to Communicate
Listening to understand
Reading for Meaning
Applying knowledge of conventions
Understanding media texts


Ontario Curricular Specific Expectation

Clarity and coherence, diction and devices, audiovisual aids
Using listening comprehension strategies
Demonstrating understanding of content, making inferences, extending understanding, critical literacy
Vocabulary and interconnected skills
Interpreting messages and evaluating texts


Lesson Goals

To work together and collaborate to create poetry and build mutual understanding
To understand the difference between stereotypes and the truth, and to show empathy toward others if we have stereotyped them
To complete a poem adapted from King’s poem


Key concepts and/or skills to be learned/applied:

Adaptability and manipulation of language to multiple purposes
Cultural sensitivity by self-reflection
Collaboration in a professional learning community


Background Knowledge:

Parts of speech
Examples of stereotypes
Personal experience and knowledge of our own stereotypes


Stage 2: Planning learning experience and instruction

Student Groupings                                                    Instructional Strategies

Individual                                                                   Listening
Pairs                                                                             Read-along
Small groups                                                              ThinkPairShare
Whole class                                                                Modelling and openness
Vocabulary pre-teaching
Peer support
Presentations (or submission for  presentation)


Materials                                                                       Considerations

Copies of the poem                                                     Some ELLs are present: STEP 2-3
Digital version of the poem for playing                 Stereotypes are sensitive topics
Worksheet version of the poem                              Students need to not feel judged
Web-based version of Madlibs
Extra pencils
Translation apps for ELLs



The lesson has been adapted for more time to allow ELLs to work thoroughly and receive peer-based L2 support
Students may use laptops if they wish/are provided them from Resource
The lesson employs reading, writing, listening and speaking in multiple opportunities; students can be assessed as they learn by the mobile teacher


                                  Stage 3: Learning experience and instruction

Motivational Hook

Written on board as students come in: I (verb) not (verb) to be at (noun, place) today! It’s (adjective) outside!


Day 1:

Open (20 min):

  • Take up the sentence from the hook; everyone should have different answers
  • Some students may already know what to expect from the lesson
  • Review parts of speech and conventions, namely
    • Nouns
    • Verbs
    • Adjectives
    • Adverbs
    • Pronouns
    • Plurals
  • Vocabulary list for the lesson and assessment
    • Suggestions include
Buttocks (should get some laughs)
Idiom: ‘Have in mind’
Gaze (noun)
Idiom: long-lost
To know (known)
To grease (greased)
Phrase: “that other one”
Movie star
Brave (noun)
Homeless bum
Relative (noun)
Idiom: ‘did the deed’
To drain
Idiom: ‘for what it’s worth’
  • It might be beneficial to have students create a KWL chart for this vocabulary list, which would help to shorten it and gauge the amount of prior knowledge available. It might also start peer-led discussion about some meanings, and student-created definitions are never a bad thing.
  • It is also possible that some of these words will have already been covered from prior units.


Body (50 min):

  • Brief lesson on stereotypes
    • What is a stereotype?
    • How is it created?
    • How can it be broken?
    • In pairs (ThinkPairShare), think and discuss what stereotyping can do to people in the world.
      • Prompts include: witches, unemployed, homeless people. Mature classes can be prompted with race questions, but this is very selective and might need to be cleared with administration first.


  • Transition to more focused lesson:
    • Discuss the importance of language choice in light of stereotypes
      • Why we say Aboriginal, African-Canadian, Chinese-Canadian, etc.
      • If the class is able, you might consider discussing the concept of colour-blindness in regard to racism


  • This leads to a brief discussion of what people might say about us. It is important that the teacher begins this phase personally, deconstructing the stereotypical terms and thoughts about his/her culture, as this shows the students that they are not uniquely judged by some elements of society.
    • Students can be broken into small groups (teacher chosen) to allow students to share some misconceptions about their cultures, their truths, and perhaps what the stereotypes can do to them.
    • The point of these topics is to be deep and sensitive.
    • Teacher stays mobile to join and encourage students. This discussion will not be shared as a whole class.


  • Hand out the poem to the class.
  • Play the video nsi-canada.ca/2012/03/im-not-the-indian-you-had-in-mind/
    • Have students take note during the poem (perhaps play twice)
    • Students should discuss with a peer or their small groups their reactions to the poem.
  • Discuss the video as a class for:
    • Content
    • Understanding
    • Word and syntax difficulty


Close (5 min):

  • Review vocabulary and parts of speech for tomorrow
  • Listen to and/or read the poem again


Day 2:

Intro (10 min)

  • Review last day’s items
  • Very quickly go over parts of speech and the vocabulary
  • Review the content of the video and some discussion points


Body (60 min):

  • Introduce Mad Libs
    • Play as a class once
    • Play in pairs for a bit (5 min)
  • Hand out Mad Libs version of the poem.
    • Perhaps re-watch the poem?
  • Explain the purpose of it
    • To adapt the poem to our own purposes based on our discussions from last time on what people think about our cultures and what they actually are.
    • Can be completed in pairs.
    • Teacher should pair ELLs with fluent peers to aid in completion.
    • ELLs are encouraged to use translators for words they don’t already know the translation to; ELLs should ask peers if the context is correct.
    • Extra time is being allowed for careful consideration of this assignment, and people who finish early should aid their peers.
    • Advanced students: More advanced students may instead rewrite more of the poem, if they have more relevant things to their own stories to add. At the teacher’s discretion, they can change it to the point of being their own spoken-word style poem.
    • Struggling students or ELLs: Students that are daunted by the size of the poem, or want to start smaller in the case of ELLs, may instead complete only the bolded parts of the poem. This section represents the basic compare and contrast section, rather than the self-reflection and mirroring.
  • Begin work
    • While students work, the teacher should remain mobile, checking in with groups, paying particular attention to ELL pairings.
  • Upon completion, students are encouraged to share their pieces with their peers.
    • Students can return to their pre-made small groups to have an opportunity to rehearse their poems in a less-risky setting.
  • Presentations should be held immediately (informal)
    • Any students that do not feel comfortable to read them aloud may have them read out by a peer. If students REALLY feel uncomfortable (as in the case of sensitive information), the poems can just be handed in, after appropriate encouragement from the class.
    • ELLs especially should be encouraged to share with the class.


Close (5 min):

  • Students could consider having their work posted in the class or online, maybe not in full


Extension Activities

  • Students done early can be support ambassadors and help students that may be struggling, either with context or ideas.
  • Students can play Madlibs in pairs as long as the noise level is manageable
  • It is possible that the reading of the poems may push the class into a third period; this should be allowed, so as to validate the students’ efforts. As such, the lesson should not begin on a Thursday, in case there would be students returning Monday to finish up their tellings, and potentially feel like a burden or extra fluff.



Assessment is done as the learning takes place, via questions asked directly by the teacher and while in group work and the teacher is mobile.

Assessment of learning occurs when the completed poetry is presented. Students that do not feel comfortable reading their own work may have a proxy do so instead. The teacher ought to know who these students are in advance so he/she can check in on their work during the work period.


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