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Appreciating Diversity--In Ourselves and Others

Time Frame

6 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups

Life Skills

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Communication
  • Social & Civic Responsibility


Mary Gould


This lesson plan is designed for a classroom of English as a second language (ESL) students. The lesson integrates language arts objectives (language acquisition) with issues of diversity and multicultural identity.




Lessons One and Two

Lessons Three and Four

  • Paper
  • Colored Pencils/Crayons
  • Odd Velvet
  • Helen Kurumada's story, Missing Stories, pg. 233-234.

Lessons Five and Six

  • Paper
  • Colored Pencils/Crayons
  • John Florez's story, Missing Stories, pg. 453.

Background for Teachers

Teachers should have an understanding of how to effectively work with students who are "language learners." Teachers should know how to effectively increase students vocabulary and written and spoken verbal skills. Teachers also need to have a sensitivity for and understanding of the experience of being a minority among a peer group (awareness of the physical and psychological aspects of diversity).

Student Prior Knowledge

To actively participate in this lesson plan, students should have a minimum level of proficiency in English.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Students will expand their vocabulary
  • Students will learn language acquisition skills
  • Students will learn to integrate new vocabulary into written and oral assignments
  • Students will gain a better understanding of and pride in their own identity
  • Students will learn to value the differences and similarities in identity (theirs and their classmates/others)

Instructional Procedures

Lesson One
Write the following vocabulary words on the board. These words will appear in the students' reading for this lesson.

  1. diversity
  2. quality
  3. attain
  4. attainment
  5. appreciate
  6. goal
  7. jealous

Reading Activity
As a class read the book, I Wish I Were a Butterfly. Provide each student the "butterfly handout." On the butterfly, have each student write two qualities they value in themselves, and two they hope to attain (write one in each segment of the butterfly).

Group Discussion
Have the students share what they wrote in their butterfly and the reasons for what they wrote.

  • Why are you proud of the quality (in yourself) you value?
  • Where did that characteristic/quality come from (family, personal experience, etc)?
  • Why do you value the quality/characteristic you want to attain?
  • How will you work to attain this characteristic/quality?

Lesson Two
Begin the class by reviewing the vocabulary words from the previous lesson, making sure that students are aware of the definition for each.

Reading Activity
Pass out photocopies of Gordon Su's story from Missing Stories. Students will read the last paragraph on pg. 239 and the first paragraph on pg. 240. Students should first read the segments individually. Students should then be divided into small groups.

Group Activity
As a group the students should take turns reading each sentence of the story aloud. Once the story is completed, students will take turn being the "teacher" (using the technique of "reciprocal teaching"). Students will ask each other questions about the text and assess the reading, asking each other the following questions:

  • Which features does Gordon Su discuss that would lend themselves to jealousy because they are unattainable?
  • Have you ever felt the way Gordon Su did?
  • What do you think would be an attainable goal for Gordon Su?
  • What would you tell Gordon Su about appreciating diversity?

Class Activity
As a class discuss the groups answers to the reading questions. Discuss how each of the vocabulary terms were used in the reading.

Lesson Three
Write the following vocabulary words on the board. These words will appear in the students' reading for this lesson.

  1. unique
  2. uniqueness
  3. differences
  4. community
  5. similarity

Introduce the vocabulary to the class and define each as a group.

Reading Activity
Read to the class, Odd Velvet by Mary Witcomb.

Class Activity
Each student is given a piece of paper and folds the paper once length wise and once width wise. Each student should have four sections (folded) in their paper. In the top left corner students should write three things that were the SAME between Odd Velvet and her classmates. In the top right corner students should write three things that were DIFFERENT. The bottom two segments are for the students to apply the same thinking about themselves and their classmates.

Class Discussion
Discuss with the class their findings from the Odd Velvet reading. What did they see as similar and different. Discuss the same for their impressions of themselves and their classmates. Discuss as a class the meaning of being similar and different. Why is each important? How do they feel about being similar and different?

Lesson Four
Reading Activity
Using the same procedure from day two, have the class read Helen Kurmada's story from Missing Stories from the middle of pg. 233 to the top of pg. 234.

Group Activity
After each student has read the story individually they should work in a group to fill out a chart about Helen Kurmada in the same way they did for Odd Velvet. What was the SAME between Helen and her friends and what was DIFFERENT? Students should take turns being the teacher and asking the following questions of the group.

  • How could Helen's community appreciate her diversity better?
  • How can you appreciate uniqueness in someone else?

Class Discussion
As a class review the vocabulary terms for the day. Discuss how they were used in the reading and how each student views these terms in their own lives. Discuss the results of the groups' conversations.

Lesson Five
Write the following vocabulary words on the board. These words will appear in the students' reading for this lesson.

  1. tradition
  2. event
  3. cousin
  4. relative
  5. gathering

Reading Activity
Read to the class Family by Isabella Monk, discussing the connection between diverse communities and family.

Class Activity
Play the "Food Bingo" game. Give each student a card and have them find one classmate who has had the food on the card in the last 24 hours. Once a student has collected the initials from a classmate on their card for each element on the card the game is over.

Group Discussion
As a class discuss the "Food Bingo" game. Was it easy or difficult to collect signatures for each of the foods? Why or why not?

Lesson Six
Reading Activity
Using the same procedure from day two, have the class read John Florez's story from Missing Stories from the middle of pg. 453.

Group Activity
After each student has read the story individually they should work in a group to create their own "Food Bingo" card. Focusing on one specific meal (ie: breakfast) might be a good idea. This activity will involve the students interviewing their group members as well as other group members about the food they eat for one meal (breakfast). Once the students have interviewed each other the groups should make their own cards.

Class Discussion
As a class discuss what they learned from this activity. The following questions will serve as discussion prompts.

  • What did you learn about your classmates by talking about food?
  • How can you value diversity in our classroom when we see people eating different things?
  • What are the unique food items specific to your culture?
  • What special meanings does food have in your culture?

Strategies for Diverse Learners

  • Vocabulary words can be changed for students with larger/smaller vocabularies.
  • Reading assignments can be modified between reading silently to reading out loud (in groups or as a class).


Ending the lessons for day six (or adding a 7th day) with a "traditional food celebration" would be a fitting way to tie together all of the lessons in this plan. This could even be done on a seventh day. This would also be a good way to bring into the classroom some of the parents who might not usually come into the classroom/school. Students could also use this opportunity to show their parents/the parents who could come in, their work. This would be an additional opportunity for the students to take pride in and show off their cultural heritage to the other students.


Howe, J. and Young, E. (1994). I Wish I Were a Butterfly. Voyager Books.

Kelen, L.G, & Stone, E.H. (2000). Missing Stories: An Oral History of Ethnic Minority Groups in Utah. Utah State University Press. Logan, UT.

Monk, I. and Porter, J.L. (2005). Family. Carolrhoda Books.

Whitcomb, M. and King, T.C. (1998). Odd Velvet. Chronicle Books.

Created: 11/05/2008
Updated: 02/05/2018