Instructor Manual: Appreciating Diversity


Click the above link to view Word documents for all the handouts for this chapter. 





Find Someone Who . . .


The Find Someone Who exercise is a good one to introduce the topic of diversity.  It gets students out of their seats and talking to others about their similarities.  It is located at the end of the chapter in the printed text and is available as a supplement to the online edition. 


Video: “Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes”


In this video, Jane Elliot discriminates against students with brown eyes one day and then discriminates against students with blue eyes the next.  This is a great way to show the harmful effects of discrimination and the detrimental effects on learning when people are told that they are inferior. After the video, have students do a five minute “free write” on their ideas about the video or the topic.  Have students underline their best sentences.  Ask for volunteers to share their best sentence.  Usually a good discussion follows. 


This video is now available online at:


The Diversity Poster


Give each student a 3X5 or 5X8 card or a standard sheet of paper and ask them to make a poster showing their culture, language, hobbies, interests or values.  Students can also be asked to create a family tree that shows their ethnic or cultural background.  Post these on the bulletin board as a way of showing the diversity in the class and/or have students briefly talk about the poster in front of the class.  If your students are sharing the poster with the class and you are not collecting them, give students the freedom to be creative and use any size paper.  One student brought a guitar with pictures taped on it to share with the class.  Another student brought a paper bag with items to discuss and show the class.


Caution students to use positive thinking and to show what they are proud of in their lives.  I ask students not to have any pictures or references to drugs, alcohol, violence or guns.  Pictures should be in good taste.  They should not have pictures of nude men or women, for example.   


The Diversity Collage

Click this link to view a sample of a diversity collage assignment which gives your students the opportunity to share and take pride in their different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  (Contributed by Paul Delys, Cuyamaca College)

Diversity Bingo

This activity helps students understand the diversity in their group.  Use the Diversity Bingo worksheet.  

Exploring Stereotypes 


Read the items from the list in the Exploring Stereotypes exercise.   Ask students to give the common stereotype portrayed in the movies.   At first students are hesitant to share stereotypes, so stress that these stereotypes are commonly presented in the movies.  This leads to interesting discussion as students contribute the stereotypes that they have observed. 


Finish this exercise by asking about the sources of these stereotypes, the prejudices that can result and the harm that can result from prejudice.


Diversity Exercise: My Groups


The purpose of this exercise is to help students become more aware of the groups with which they identify and how they are affected by stereotypes.  Begin with a diagram that has one circle in the middle and four circles surrounding it.  This diagram is in the Diversity Exercise: My Groups handout.  Follow these steps:

1.       Write your name in the middle circle.

2.      In the surrounding circles, list the groups with which you identify.  (Examples: woman, man, African American, Mexican, Asian, Irish, young, surfer, blond, redhead, business major, introvert, extravert, thinking, feeling, thin, overweight, motivated student, basketball player, athlete, Christian, Democrat, Republican)

3.      Turn to the person next to you.  Tell of a time you felt especially proud to be a member of this group. 

4.      Share a time it felt particularly painful to be a member of this group.

5.      Which stereotype have you heard about one of your groups, but it fails to describe you? 


At the end of this exercise, give students a few minutes to write 3 discovery statements.  Ask for volunteers to share their discovery statements.


(Submitted by Dr. Sandee Bonura, Instructor, Cuyamaca College)


Culture Walk


The purpose of this exercise is to help students become more aware of the many types of diversity that exist and to find students who share the same experiences.  For this exercise, students form a line across the classroom.  Students are asked to step forward and then back into the line based on questions asked by the instructor.  Start with questions that are non-threatening to get students comfortable with the exercise.  Students can choose to “pass” if they want.  Vary the questions to suit your group of students.   


Walk across the line if your favorite color is blue.  Look into the eyes of those you brought with you.  Look at those you left behind.  Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling.  Walk back across the line. 


Here are some additional questions:


·        Walk across the line if you have ever experienced a bad hair day.

·        Walk across the line if you are undecided about your major. 

·        Walk across the line if your parents are divorced.

·        Walk across the line if you or someone you care about is in a gang.

·        Walk across the line if you or someone you care about lives in poverty.

·        Walk across the line if you or someone you care about has been homeless.

·        Walk across the line if you have been told or think you are fat.

·        Walk across the line if someone you care about has been abused physically, psychologically or sexually.

·        Walk across the line if you or someone you care about is dependent on alcohol or drugs.

·        Walk across the line if you know someone who is gay, lesbian or bisexual.

·        Walk across the line if you know someone who is HIV positive or has AIDS.

·        Walk across the line if you have been put down by someone else and it hurt you.

·        Walk across the line if you put someone down and you knew it hurt them. 


At the conclusion of this exercise, ask students what they learned from it.  The usual comment is that students are not aware that so many share the same experiences. 


(Submitted by Kris Irving, Helix Charter High School, La Mesa, CA) 


Line of Inequity


This exercise helps students to think about power, class, education and socioeconomic status.  Students form a straight line in the classroom.  After each question, participants are asked to take a step forward or back.  Here are the questions:


1.      If you have forty or more books in your house, take a step forward.

2.      If you received a free lunch at school or had a lunch card, take a step back.

3.      If your parents read to you when you were young, take two steps forward.

4.      If you went to an alternative or adult education school, take one step back.

5.      If you attended a private school, take one step forward.

6.      If you parents speak English, take one step forward.

7.      If you are a US citizen, take one step forward.

8.      If you are an undocumented resident, take two steps back.

9.      If you know someone who died because of gang violence, take a step back.

10. If you have a family member who has been in prison, take a step back.

11. If you have a computer in your home, take a step forward.

12. If someone in your family receives government assistance, take a step back.

13. If someone in your family is dependent on drugs or alcohol, take a step back.

14. If your parents graduated from high school, take a step forward.

15. If one of your parents did not graduate from high school, take a step back.

16. If you live in a single parent home, take a step back.

17. If you have been discriminated against because of your ethnicity, take a step back.

18. If your family owns the home where you live, take a step forward.

19. If you have seen violence in your house, take a step back.

20. If you are bilingual, take a step forward.

21. If you have ever been discriminated against because of your sexual identity, take a step back.

22. If you are a man, take two steps forward.

23. If you are a woman, take two steps back. 


Here are some questions for discussion:


What did you think of this activity?

How did you feel about your position in the line?

What is the best way to overcome disadvantage?  (Education)


(Submitted by Jose Luis Perez, San Diego City College, San Diego) 


The Line Game

This game is a variation on the Line of Inequity above. To play this game, place a piece of tape across the floor. Ask students to step on the line if the questions pertain to them. Students can opt not to step on the line if they feel uncomfortable doing so, but emphasize that this is a safe place to share. You can use the same questions as the Line of Inequity above.

You can view a YouTube video of this game from Freedom Writers with Hillary Swank.

The Privilege Walk Workshop: Learning More about Privilege in Today's Society

Here is another version of the above exercises with learning goals, detailed instruction and  additional questions.  See The Privilege Walk Workshop handout for detailed instructions.

(Contributed by Tira Young, Azusa Pacific University) 

Cultural Identity: Attaching a Story

In this exercise, student are given labels (upper class, lesbian, Goth, activist, Jew, gay, alcoholic, deaf, religious, convict, white, straight, black, disabled, working class) and asked to list characteristics about themselves and two other people in the group.  Then they are asked to open an envelope which contains a description of the person which is often very different from the label.  See the Cultural Identity: Attaching a Story handout for complete directions. 

 Self-esteem Exercise


In order to appreciate diversity, it is first necessary to have good self-esteem.  This exercise gets students to smile and think some positive thoughts about themselves and others.  Do a chain of compliments around the room.  Begin by giving a compliment to the first student in the row.  For example, "You have a nice smile."  This students turns around and gives a compliment to the next student.  Each student in turn gives a compliment to the next student.  No compliment can be repeated twice and compliments should be sincere.   


Group Activity: Self-Esteem


The Building Your Self-Esteem handout gives students the opportunity to do some positive thinking about themselves and share with others in the class.   


Examining Our Own Prejudices


This exercise helps students to become aware of their own prejudices.  Start by distributing 3 X 5 cards to the class.  Ask students to write a couple of sentences about a group that they have the most difficulty with because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation or political beliefs.  Tell students not to put their names on the cards.  Collect the cards and read them aloud anonymously. 


A classroom discussion follows.  Congratulate students for their honesty.  Ask the students the following:


§         Did some of you find the exercise difficult to do?  Why?

§         Did you hesitate about writing negative thoughts about any group?

§         Where do these prejudices come from?

§         What are the damaging effects of these prejudices?


Some students will turn in blank cards because they do not want to write down negative ideas about any group or because this exercise is too threatening for them.  We all have some biases and prejudices that are learned as we are growing up. We generally learn these prejudices from our parents, friends, church, the media, etc.  We all need to become aware of our biases and be careful not to generalize.


(from Raad Jerjis, Instructor, Cuyamaca College, El Cajon, CA)


Write about an Incidence of Discrimination


Have students write about an incident in which they experienced discrimination.  This discrimination could result from any kind of difference such as hair length, style of dressing, political affiliation, religion, skin color, hair color, age, weight, language, accent, or disability.  To get the discussion going, think of a situation in which you experienced discrimination and share it with the class.  Anonymously read some excerpts from the students’ writings and encourage student discussion. 


Another variation is to pass out 3X5 cards to each of your students.  Ask them to write on the cards an incidence of discrimination they have witnessed or experienced sometime during their lives.   Shuffle the cards and read them anonymously to the class. 


Group Activity: Exploring Diversity and Culture


Have students fill out the worksheet, Exploring Diversity, located at the end of this section.  Have them join with 3 or 4 students in the class who they do not know.   Have students share answers in the group.  At the end, ask each student in the group to share with the class interesting things they found out about the people in their groups.  This results in a lively discussion resulting in students getting to know each other better and appreciating the diversity in the class.


Assign the exercise, Exploring My Culture, located at the end of the chapter.  Students can share some of this information in a brief oral presentation to the class. 


What is important?  Write your eulogy.


We generally write eulogies for people after they have passed away.  It is sad that we cannot hear what people thought about our lives before we die.  Thinking about what we would like people to say is a way to sum up the really important accomplishments in our lives. 


The best way to do this activity is for the instructors to write a brief eulogy about themselves and share it with the class.  Then ask students to write their own eulogies.  These can be shared with the class.  This exercise makes a good "extra credit" assignment.  A handout, What is Important? has these questions to guide the writing of the eulogy:


·        What were some of your greatest accomplishments?

·        What did those who knew you say about your life?

·        What did you value?

·        How did you spend your time?

·        Who were the important people in your life?  How did they know?

·        What were the lasting influences in your life?

·        What would you like to leave as your legacy?



For Online Classes


Online Discussion Question


One of the most exciting scientific accomplishments of this century is Human Genome Project which is the cataloging of human genes.  This will lead to great understanding of the human body and advances medical science.  One of the most important findings is that while human beings differ in outward appearance, the genetic structure of all human beings is 99.9% identical.  These researchers agree that there is only one race, the human race. 


However we continue to struggle with the concept of appreciating diversity, and discrimination and prejudice still exist in many forms.  For example, you may have experienced discrimination because of your ethnic group, religion, height, weight, gender, disability, or even academic skills.  For this discussion, give an example of a circumstance where you have experienced or witnessed discrimination.  Any ideas on how to reduce discrimination? 


I will share an example of discrimination that I experienced.  I started my doctoral program at USC when I was 8 months pregnant.  After the first class the professor took me aside and suggested that I drop out of the program because of my family situation.  I was really angry and decided to show him that I would finish.  I am happy to report that I was one of the first three students to finish the program.