While it is easy to see how things like hair, eye, and skin color; height; age; and interests can both group us as well as distinguish us from each other, there are other “differences” that often cause people to feel uncomfortable and sometimes lead to alienation. These differences can come in the form of a disability (learning or physical), a difficult or different family background/situation, or any other type of behavior or outlook on life that does not fit into the accepted “norm.”
How can we help our students gain an understanding of these differences so that they do not appear so scary or odd? How can we teach our students to accept each other for who they are? How can we acknowledge both the similarities and the differences present in our classroom and illustrate the value that these bring to our community of learners?
I have often used an adaptation of this “Good Apples” Lesson Plan in my classroom. It presents students with some striking visuals about first impressions, incorrect assumptions we often make about others, and the importance of believing (and seeing) that it is both our similarities as well as our differences that bring value to our community.
The following texts can also be great discussion starters as you explore similarities and differences with your class:
Arthur’s Eyes, by Marc Brown
Crow Boy, by Taro Yashima
Eggbert: The Slightly Cracked Egg, by Tom Ross
I Am Utterly Unique: Celebrating the Strengths of Children with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism, by Elaine Marie Larson
Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome, by Clarabelle van Niekerk
In Jesse’s Shoes, by Beverly Lewis
Leo the Late Bloomer, by Robert Kraus
The Cow That Went OINK, by Bernard Most
* Blog title taken from M. Scott Peck’s quote: “Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.”