Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?

Patti Cogburn
Santa Rosa District Schools


Following a class discussion about stereotypes, students cut pictures out of magazines that relate to their lives to glue on bags to share with the class.


The student uses details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids to make oral presentations that inform, persuade, or entertain.


-Writing utensil
-One lunch-size paper bag for each student
-Magazines (at least one per student, popular teen-type magazines work well)
-Scissors (at least one pair for every 3 students)
-Glue or glue sticks (at least one for every 4 students)
-Pictures or posters of characters that are often stereotyped (cheerleaders, athletes, nerds)
-Handout which lists all the studentsí names in the class down the left margin (one for each student)


1. Gather posters or pictures of different types of people that are often stereotyped. If you canít get these, write the type on the board, such as a cheerleader, an athlete, a preacher, a nerd, and a Japanese.
2. Provide one lunch-size paper bag for each student.
3. Have approximately one glue stick for every three or four students.
4. Gather scissors, at least one pair for every three students.
5. Collect magazines, at least one per student (students may be required to bring these in).
6. Prepare a handout for each student listing every student's name in the class down the left margin. There is a blank line next to each student's name. This is where each student will write their positive comments.


This lesson can be used at the beginning of the new year or semester to allow the students to get to know one another. It also can be used to introduce any literary work that deals with stereotypes or looking beyond the surface, such as [To Kill A Mockingbird]. After doing this activity, the students know the importance of looking beyond the stereotype in a character when reading and discussing any future literary work.

Student Activity
1. Class begins with a teacher-led class discussion about stereotypes. Teacher displays pictures or posters that show different people that are often stereotyped, such as a cheerleader, an athlete, a preacher, a nerd, a Japanese, etc.

2. After each stereotype picture is shown, the students write down at least five adjectives that they would use to describe the person in the picture.

3. When all pictures are used, the students hand in their comments to the teacher. (Note: This first part of the lesson should take about 15 minutes.)

4. Pass the magazines, glue, scissors, bags, and handouts out to the students.

5. Students cut out pictures from the magazines that relate to their lives including their hobbies, their interests, as well as their physical and inner beings. Students then glue the pictures all over the bag covering most of the area.

6. The teacher passes out the handout listing all of the students' names. This is to be used by the students on which to write their positive comments.

7. Students take turns and give a 1-minute oral presentation of their bag to the class, pointing out specific pictures on the bag and explaining why they are significant.

8. Following each studentís presentation, the class writes a positive comment about that person next to the personís name on the handout. Students pass their handouts in to the teacher when everyone is finished. (You may choose to grade these; I did not.)

9. Remind the class that they have learned new information about their classmates, and therefore, have learned to look beyond the surface with others. In the same way, people should remember to look beyond the stereotype to what is truly within a person.

10. The teacher cuts the individual comments apart on the handout, and hands out the comments from the class to each student. If you have an 85-minute class period, this will probably have to be done on another day.


1. The class discussion written descriptions of stereotypes will be assessed on the following criteria:
Excellent - at least five appropriate adjectives were used
Good - four appropriate adjectives were used
Fair - three appropriate adjectives were used
Redo - two appropriate adjectives were used
Redo - one appropriate adjective was used

2. The positive comment sheets could be assessed as follows
Excellent- all students listed on the handout have a positive comment by their name
Needs improvement- incomplete - some comments are missing or not all comments are positive

3. The bags will be assessed by the following criteria:
Excellent-Pictures almost completely cover the bag, enough to give the observer a clear idea of what the owner likes, and what the owner's inner and physical being is. Owner adequately uses details and verbal language to convey the message.
Redo- A few pictures on the bag, but not enough to really understand who the owner is and what he or she likes and what his or her physical and inner being is. Owner adequately uses details and verbal language to convey the message.

Individual teacher determination- A bag is turned in, but not shared. (A student who doesn't verbally share doesn't demonstrate knowledge of the standard.)
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