Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Don't Laugh at Me
Lesson 1
From Unit: All for One
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Learners will define and identify stereotypical and discriminatory behaviors and practices. They will describe a social action plan to make the school a welcome and secure learning environment for all learners.


Three Forty-Five Minute Class Periods


The learner will:

  • define discrimination and describe how it manifests itself within a school climate.
  • describe how the work of Peter Yarrow seeks to end discriminatory actions toward others.
  • describe a personal action plan for decreasing exclusionary and discriminating behaviors which will contribute to the common good.


  • Student copies of the lyrics for the song Don’t Laugh at Me (See Bibliography for web site)
  • Video, Don’t Laugh at Me
  • Student copies of Biography of Peter Yarrow (See Bibliography for web site)
  • Stand and Deliver (Attachment One)
  • Learner copies of The Pledge (See Bibliography for web site)
  • Poster board and markers
Handout 1
Stand and Deliver

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Pass out lyrics and/or play the song, "Don’t Laugh at Me." Ask learners to identify the hurtful behaviors/actions expressed in the song.

  • Day One: Ask learners if they have ever felt "picked on" because of similar reasons. Have them do a reflective journal activity with the following topic: Describe a situation where you felt excluded or unwelcome. How has that event affected you? If all persons are "created equal," why is it that they are not actually treated the same in real life situations? Assure the learners that this writing is for their reflection only, they will not be expected to share the information and it will not be graded.

  • After the learners have had time to do the reflective writing, working in a whole group setting, write and define the following terms on the board.
    • empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to and vicariously experiencing the feelings and thoughts of another
    • prejudice: injury or damage resulting from some judgement or action in disregard of one’s rights (law); preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience
    • stereotype: standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group that represents an oversimplified opinion
    • philanthropy: private and individual action intended for the common good
    • altruism: a belief that human beings should act in ways that help others; a selfless concern for the welfare of others
    • human rights: rights regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons
    • social action: individual or group behavior that involves interaction with other individuals or groups working toward social reform
  • Write each term on a piece of poster paper and place around the room. Ask the learners to list examples of each term. Explain how these ideas improve the common good.

  • Day Two: Begin class with playing the song "Don’t Laugh at Me." Distribute copies of Biography of Peter Yarrow. You may want to do a brief introduction to Peter, Paul and Mary and the social action groups of the 60’s. Read this biography together and ask learners to highlight areas that pertain to social action and altruism.

  • Show the video "Don’t Laugh At Me." After the video ask learners how this made them feel. Brainstorm ideas for strategies to decrease exclusionary/discriminating/disrespectful behaviors in their school. Ask each learner to develop a personal social action plan to help decrease disrespectful and negative behaviors.

  • Day Three: Begin by playing the song "Don’t Laugh At Me." Using Stand and Deliver (Attachment One), allow approximately 25 minutes for the activity. It is done in total silence and seriousness. Teacher Note: Before beginning the activity, be sure the students completely understand the procedure.

  • Debriefing is necessary at the end of the activity as it can be an emotional experience for some learners. Debriefing questions may include:
    • Describe some of your feelings today.
    • What was the hardest part of this activity today?
    • What did you learn about yourself? About others?
    • What surprised you the most?
    • What did you learn about the effects of discrimination and intolerance?

  • Distribute copies of the "All One Heart" The Pledge. Read this pledge together. This is a voluntary piece that learners may or may not choose to sign. Discuss how this plan can begin to make a small difference to discriminatory actions. How does adherence to this plan improve the common good? What Core Democratic Value does it strengthen? (equality)



Journal reflections and the discussion throughout the exercise may be used as an assessment of learning.

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Charlene Austin
Ionia Public Schools
Douglas Welch Community/Alt. Ed Center
Ionia, MI 48846


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Stand and Deliver

Directions: Ask participants to seat themselves in a circle, in chairs or on the floor, so that they can see everyone. The moderator should stand or sit in the circle. Explain that statements will be read statements that indicate the complexity of diversity and experience. Ask that as each statement is read, those who identify with that statement should stand. Allow time for participants to observe and encourage them to consider the following:

  • who is standing or sitting with you
  • how you are feeling.

Next, thank participants and ask them to be seated again and read another statement. The entire activity should be done in total silence until the debriefing segment.

Stand and deliver if you identify as…

  1. a male
  2. a female
  3. born in the U.S.
  4. born in another country
  5. an only child
  6. the youngest child
  7. the oldest child
  8. the middle child
  9. someone who lived away from home
  10. African-American
  11. Hispanic
  12. Arab American
  13. Native-American
  14. Asian-American/Pacific Islander
  15. Middle Eastern
  16. a member of an ethnic group not mentioned previously
  17. someone who has been raised in a lower-income family
  18. someone who has been raised in an upper-income family
  19. someone who has been raised in a middle-income family
  20. able to speak a language other than English
  21. spiritual, but not religious
  22. spiritual
  23. someone who has seriously questioned your religious beliefs
  24. someone who has been teased about your accent or your voice, or told that you could not sing
  25. someone who has a family member or a friend who has a disability that you can or cannot see
  26. someone who has been raised in a single-parent household
  27. someone who has been raised in a household with extended family, such as aunts, uncles and/or grandparents
  28. someone who has parents who have been divorced from one another
  29. someone who has parents who have been married only to each other for 20 years or more
  30. someone who has had a close family member/friend die
  31. someone who has both parents still living
  32. someone who has felt alone, unwelcome or afraid at some time in your life
  33. someone who has been teased or made fun of for wearing glasses, braces, a hearing aid or because of the clothes you wear, your height, weight, complexion, or size or shape of your body
  34. someone who has felt pressure from friends or an adult to do something that you did not want to do and felt sorry or shame afterwards
  35. someone who has been discriminated against because of your age
  36. someone who has been discriminated against because of your gender
  37. someone who has been discriminated against because of your race
  38. someone who has broken a law and gotten caught
  39. someone who has broken a law and not gotten caught
  40. someone who has stood by and watched while someone was emotionally or physically hurt and said or did nothing because you were too afraid
  41. someone who is planning to speak out and do something from now on when you see someone being pressured to do something they do not want to do
  42. someone who has the feeling that one person can make a difference
  43. someone who feels that tolerance of diversity is a must if we are to survive as a global community

Philanthropy Framework:


Dr. Wanda, Administrator – INDIANAPOLIS, IN11/16/2006 2:48:37 PM

Wow! This is terrific! In a nation where violence is rampant and bullying in suburban schools has taken us to guns & deaths at school, this should be a required unit. As a former HS principal & Director over 13 Alternative Schools in an urban district, I have seen it performed and worked into a curriculum, but this presentation is great! (And Peter, Mark and Steve's song should make us all stop & think!)

Dr. Leah Amyakar, Associate Professor – Phoenix, AZ3/27/2010 9:57:51 PM

It is difficult to listen to Peter's song and not be brought to tears. We have all known kids who were bullied and known bullies as well. It is high time this insidious issue is addressed. Everyon can help.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:All for One Summary


Don't Laugh at Me
Living Together as One
Who's In, Who's Out?
Allies and Actions
We Can Help to Make a Change!

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