Belonging to a Group

Belonging to a Group

Part 1: Managing the Conversation Effectively

Before beginning the lesson, keep in mind that discussing groups, ethnicity, and cyber groups can lead to some very heated discussion, hurt feelings, alienation, and inappropriate remarks. In order to manage this lesson effectively, here are some helpful methods or scripts.
Substantiate opinion by referring back to the research and content

When you introduce the concepts, give specific examples and refer back to the information in the websites and resources to provide factual information. When a student says something controversial or offensive in the discussion, frame it as an appropriate response, “That’s an interesting way to look at this, but let’s look at some specific examples from the research that contradict that idea.”

Use a Set of Active Listening Rules
To become more familiar with this effective protocol, especially when dealing with issues of ethnicity and different cultures, please go to and read Empathic Listening before you begin classroom discussion to help students learn how to be good listeners—a skill that needs to be directly, rather than implicitly, taught. Model these skills yourself so students understand.

Use Warm/Cool Feedback
Use the warm/cool feedback technique when having students respond to others’ work and ideas. Teach students to comment on their peers’ remarks by saying, “That’s an interesting point of view or project. Why did you choose that?” instead of saying, “That’s bad” or “I didn’t like that.” For positive, warm feedback say, “I really liked the way that you created this paper, gathered this data, conducted the interviews, created a PowerPoint, etc., in particular the choice of visuals, information, and so on” when analyzing student work rather than saying, “That’s good.” This is more specific and constructive. Again, model these skills yourself.

Student as Authentic Science Practitioners
Students are cultural anthropologists. They should conduct authentic scientific inquiry by collecting data, analyzing data, and reaching conclusions based on data and research. Students should decide how to best present the data and the implications of the findings, rather than just opinion.

Part 2: Suggested Literature

There is an abundance of fiction and non-fiction literature dealing with the issue of belonging, joining, or rejecting group participation in different contexts to foster discussion, reflection, and knowledge acquisition. There are also many books available that include testimonials and artworks of students of different cultures exploring their own unique stories. Here is a short list of suggested books that you can assign to read in class, individually, and as points of group discussion. Literacy circles can be formed around reading a small collection of these books as well. They may be used to elicit background information for students before conducting this lesson, to enhance this lesson, or as follow-up assignments for writing and reflection. Please ask your school media specialist for help. Some of these works also may have teacher discussion guides available.

The Chocolate Wars by Robert Cormier
Beyond the Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
The Fighting Ground by Avi
Nothing But the Truth by Avi
Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville
The Kin, Suth’s Story by Peter Dickinson
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Go and Come Back by Joan Abelove

Non Fiction
How People Live, DK Publishing, is an enhanced pictorial of different groups around the world. It gives an understanding of the wide diversity of different cultures around the world now, and the common bonds that link all humans together. This book includes photographs, illustrations, and excellent visuals as well as text.

This teacher sheet is a part of the Belonging to a Group lesson.

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