Objective: Students will be able to compare and contrast how stereotypes and divisions occur in school with what the character Virgie faced in Africa.

- Book Virgie Goes to School With Us Boys
- Student journals
- Large chart paper
- Magazines
- Scissors
- Newspaper
- Markers
- Glue
- Construction paper
- Notebook paper
- Poster boards

Two 45-50 minute class periods

Day 1:
1.) Read the book, Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys, with the class.

2.) Have students journal in their reading journal for about 5 minutes about their initial thoughts and reactions about the book.

3.) Bring students back together and have them share their ideas and feelings about the book and how Virgie was treated.

4.) Discuss the following idea with students:
  • How often do people use labels or categories to describe others?
  • What do you think labels are based on?
    • clothing, looks, the way a person talks, the groups to which he or she belongs, age or gender
  • Explain in more depth that categorizing people/things is natural human inclination: however, people often make assumptions about groups of people they don't even know.

5.) Ask the class to brainstorm categories that are used at school to group people. Categories could include labels such as "jocks" or "brains." Write each category the class generates on the board and have students narrow that list down to five major categories.

6.) Write these major categories on five separate pieces of flip chart paper and post these around the room. Give the class 10-15 minutes to travel to each posted sheet and write down adjectives related to the category headings. Remind students that they should only add new descriptions to the list and that they may only use appropriate language when writing adjectives.

7.) When they are finished, ask students to take a moment and look at the adjectives that the class has generated under each group heading. Use the following questions to lead a discussion about what they recorded:
--Do assumptions apply to everyone in a group?
--Do most people hold the same assumptions about a group? Why or why not?
--Do assumptions tell us anything definite about a categorized individual?
--How do assumptions affect your behavior toward others?

8.) Now ask students to help define the word "stereotype."
  • Explain that when we make assumptions about an entire group of people, those assumptions are referred to as stereotypes. When assumptions and stereotypes influence our attitudes, we may find that making a fair judgment about someone or something is difficult. This influence or judgment is called a "bias."
Day 2:
8.) Ask students how they feel about stereotypes? Ask them to talk in groups about racial, economic and gender stereotypes.

9.) Have each student individually write for 15-20 minutes about how they felt when they were discriminated against for something like race, ethnicity, gender, how much money they or their family has, age or a personal experience where someone judged them based on these things. Tell students to NOT put their names on these sheets.

10) Collect the papers and put students in groups of 5.

11.) Shuffle papers and distribute them into groups randomly along with more paper, magazines (to cut out images), newspapers, markers and glue. Have each group make a poster using the stories and supplies to combine the writing with artwork and magazine clippings showing how stereotypes can affect them and make them feel. Keep posters in the room for the unit.

Other Standards:
Grade: 8
Strand: History
Topic: Civil War and Resconstruction
Content Statement: 12. The Reconstruction period resulted in changes to the U.S. Constitution, an affirmation of federal authority and lingering social and political differences.