Understanding Prejudice
Understanding Prejudice
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Teacher's Corner
College Classroom Activities

Springboards for Discussing Modern Racism


To stimulate small group discussions about contemporary forms of racism in a way that involves the active participation of all students.


This activity is quite flexible. Here is just one example of how it might go:

  1. Begin with an introduction such as the following:

    "During the last couple of weeks we've discussed the readings together in one large group. Just to spice things up, I thought we'd break into smaller groups today and give you a chance to interact more directly with each other. That will also decentralize the discussions and shift the focus from me to you, which is really where it should be."

  2. Ask students to count off by 4 to form groups of 4-5 students each (counting off prevents students from simply forming groups with their friends).

  3. Distribute a sheet with discussion questions. These questions might come from Springboards for Discussing Modern Racism in the Teacher's Corner, from questions you develop, from items that students have submitted previously, or any combination of the above.

  4. Make clear that:

    • The springboards are just to get things going -- it doesn't matter how many are answered.
    • Students can discuss them in any order they prefer or even invent their own springboards.
    • The point is to have a good dialogue in which every member of the group participates.

  5. Give students a fixed time period (e.g., 30 minutes) to discuss the springboards, with a request that they return to the classroom punctually if their group leaves the room (e.g., to talk in a nearby lounge).

  6. Float from group to group during the discussions, making sure that the groups remain focussed and that all members are participating.

  7. Reconvene for a 10-15 plenary in which students share anything interesting that emerged in their group's discussion.