Activity Guide: Student-led Assembly to Shatter Stereotypes | Not in Our Town

Activity Guide: Student-led Assembly to Shatter Stereotypes

Grade Level: 
Middle School (6-8)
High School (9-12)

In this video, students created an assembly performance that included individual presentations, role-playing scenarios and musical performances.  Any or all of these efforts represent exciting and creative ways for students to contribute their voice and perspectives to important social justice issues.  

As this is a big undertaking, please review the following guidelines to assist in your planning and implementation.


Age-level:  middle and high school students
Note: This assembly process will take numerous class periods or student-group meetings to develop and complete. Ideally, students will have at least two months of planning for an assembly like the one seen in the video.
Part I: Planning
1.     Work with necessary administrators and staff colleagues to confirm the receptivity to a student-led assembly on this topic; decide on timing and resources available to support the planning and implementation process. 
2.     After viewing the “Students Shattering Stereotypes” video, explain to students that they will be taking the lead in developing a student assembly similar to the one seen in the video. Explain the timetable for the planning and preparation of the assembly.
3.     Engage in a brainstorming process with the students to decide what type of content they would like to have in their assembly. Some content areas for the assembly may include:
  •  Role-play scenarios depicting experiences with prejudice, name-calling or bullying; highlighting positive interventions
  •  Student essays or poetry on these themes
  •  Musical performance (perhaps a strong finish for the assembly)
  •  Guest speaker from the community or school leadership
4.     Once the content areas are decided, develop work teams for each area; make lists of what steps need to happen in each area; determine who needs to be involved and when tasks need to be completed. Throughout the planning process, be sure to work with each work team to keep them on track to successful completion. Remember that there will be specific needs for the assembly itself: a written program, music, stage hands, emcee, etc. 
Part II: Preparation and Practice
For Role-Plays:
1.     If students decide to perform scenarios depicting experiences with name-calling or stereotyping and to model effective ways to intervene in these situations, then it will be important for the students to engage in a thoughtful process to plan and prepare for these role-play scenarios. 
2.     Engage students in process to identify their own experiences with name-calling or bullying. Once students share their ideas and experiences, guide them to review and synthesize the scenarios into a manageable number (ideally 5-7 depending on their length and complexity) that draw upon the most common themes or experiences. 
3.     Review the “Note of Caution” to inform the directions given to students when preparing their role play presentations.
4.     Once the scenarios topics have been determined, ask students to review each to develop a short performance/presentation:
a.     Identify the problem: what is being said or done that is hurtful or problematic.
b.     Identify who is involved: the target, the perpetrator, bystander or “upstander” (the person who will intervene).
c.     Ask students to think about the consequences to the people in the scenario if no one intervenes or interrupts what occurs. It is important for students to consider the negative impact on all involved – the target, the perpetrator and those who may observe the situation.
d.     Have the groups discuss and decide on verbal and/or behavioral choices that people in the scenario could make that would be effective to interrupting or stopping the name-calling and bullying. Remind students that the person who is targeted could respond and/or the “bystander” may decide to help or intervene. (If your school has an anti-bullying program in place, this is good opportunity to reinforce that model with the students. Remind students that some responses are more effective than others depending on the specific situation.)
a.     Once the responses have been developed, direct students to decide on roles for their members and to develop “scripts” for each scenario. Allow plenty of time for rehearsal and be sure to review each scenario and redirect as needed to reinforce positive and thoughtful presentations.
Note: All content should be reviewed before the assembly. Consider inviting the school Principal to a rehearsal as well, to be sure that he/she is aware of all the content being presented.  Make sure there are ample opportunities for those performing to rehearse together and to feel comfortable and prepared.
Note of Caution: The use of role play in exploring experiences with prejudice and discrimination can be effective. However it is not without its potential pitfalls, especially with younger students. Please keep these cautions in mind:
1.     Direct students to take the role play process seriously. While it can be fun to act out these scenarios, the goal is to think carefully about the harm inflicted in these situations and to develop realistic and practical ways to confront them. Remember the scenarios are based on real experiences where people were hurt by others. Reinforce the need for empathy for how the people in the scenario might feel about what is happening.
2.     Caution students not to stereotype others’ in their presentations – be it the language used, accents, physical manner, etc. Again, they should aim to be as realistic and authentic in their presentations as possible.
3.     Remind students that the targets of the name-calling are not without voice or options for response. Caution against showing the “victims” as unable to take any control of the situation



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