Stereotypes, Identity, and Society (9-12)


This 3-tiered lesson might be an interesting and engaging introduction to any exploration of stereotyping, inequality, civil rights, and/or identity. While the reading focuses upon ethnicity, this lesson opens the door for discussion and exploration of the different treatment of individuals based on race, culture, religion, gender, sexuality, etc. 

Grade Range: 9-12
Pinboard: Native Communities

  • Primary: Human Experience
  • Other: Overcoming Obstacles; Power of Words

Curricular Connections 

  • ELA
  • Social Studies
  • Visual/Graphic Arts
  • World Language (Cultural Studies)
  • Sociology

Primary Common Core Connection

  • ELA Reading Informational Text Standards .1-.3
  • ELA Writing Standard .1
  • Reading History Standards .1 and .2
  • Writing in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects Standard .1


Native Americans, Stereotypes, Bias, Racism, Bigotry, Media, Ethics, Cultural Sensitivity, Inequality, Civil Rights, Identity, Empathy

Guiding Question

How do stereotypes impact society, our perceptions, and our self-image?  

Goal and Rationale

Citizens must be critical consumers and producers of information. As students engage with the texts and media they are exposed to on a daily basis, they must think critically and detect not only the superficial information, but also implicit purpose and potential biases as well. 

Throughout these lessons, students must not only present claims, but also offer clear and relevant supporting evidence in both written and spoken communication.

This lesson is presented in 3-tiers, however the teacher has the option of implementing any or all of the tiers that work best with his/her goals, students, available time, and class structure.

Materials Needed

Provided by NEWSELA:

External Resources:

Lesson Elements

Tier I

  1. As students enter the classroom, the teacher poses the following question – What shapes our identity and self-image? – Students take approximately 5 minutes to reflect upon this question. They might journal their responses, pair-share with another student to discuss their initial thinking, or chart responses as a class.
  2. Students then read NFL's Redskins feel pressure to change name. Each student reads the article at his/her individual accessibility level and uses the Newsela annotation feature to make notes in the margin.
     Tip: Infuse targeted and probing questions for students directly into the document!
  3. Following the reading, the teacher facilitates a class wide exploration of the infographic – A Team By Any Other Name.
    NOTE: This element of the lesson is a collaborative activity so that the infographic is accessible to all levels of readers within your classroom.
  4. The teacher then engages the students in a Socratic Seminar or similarly structured discussion, centering on the prompt below. The students discuss their responses, continually providing text-based and infographic-based evidence and justification for their claims. They build upon the ideas of others, question, and challenge thinking throughout the discussion.
    Should the Redskins be forced to change their team name and logo?

Tier II

  1. Students read Chester Nez, last of WWII's Navajo code talkers, dies at 93. Each student reads the article at his/her individual accessibility level and uses the Newsela annotation feature to take notes in the margin.
  2. Following this, the teacher questions students to consider how Nez’s experiences might have shaped his identity and self-image. Students share their thinking through reflective journaling, a pair share, or a brief class discussion.
  3. Either in small groups of 2-3 or individually, the students consider how Nez might have responded to the Redskins team name and logo.  Students are given approximately 20 minutes to complete the following task -
    a. You are Chester Nez, the last of the Navajo Code Talkers, and have decided to weigh in on the current dispute over the Redskins’ team name and logo. How does the team name/logo impact society, our perspectives of others, and our own self-image? Does the team name and logo make the Native American more or less respected? More or less American?
    b. Write a brief open letter/blog post, to the NFL, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, and America expressing and justifying your thoughts.
  4. Students should be given the opportunity to share open letters with classmates. This might be accomplished through a modified jigsaw reading or posting to class blogs/website.
  5. The teacher then shows the NFL's Navajo Code Talkers video to students, explaining that the Navajo Code Talkers were honored at a Redskins game in 2013. He/she prompts students to consider the following questions before participating in a class wide discussion:
    a. How does the featured Navajo Code Talker perceive the Redskins?
    b. Does the featured code talker’s perception change or challenge your thinking on whether or not the Redskins team name and logo are offensive?
    c. If a Native American supports the Redskins, does it make the name and logo appropriate? Who decides what is right and what is wrong?

Tier III

  1. As a final task, students watch Proud to Be and are then charged with rebranding the Washington Redskins. This might be by honoring and celebrating the Native American instead of caricaturizing and stereotyping or by rebranding in a way that celebrates and unifies all Americans, regardless of ethnicity. Students should consider the power, impact, and implications of their rebranded team name and logo.


  • National Congress of American Indians. "Proud To Be." YouTube. YouTube, 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 11 Aug. 2014.
  • National Football League. "Redskins Pay Homage to Navajo Code Talkers." National Football League. NFL Productions, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. <>.
  • Peck, Adam. "Play-by-Play: A Timeline of the Fight to Change the Redskins' Name." ThinkProgress, 3 Feb. 2014. Web. <Play-By-Play: A Timeline Of The Fight To Change The Redskins’ Name - See more at:’-name#sthash.bzCG7mXi.dpuf>.
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