Stories about Difference
Level 1 English Focus

Introduction to Stories about Difference

In this module students view, analyse and create stories that focus on diversity, exploring the concepts of inclusion and exclusion.  They also explore how texts can exclude.

All activities in this module are aligned to the Australian Curriculum: English, Years 3 and 4.  (Click here to see the Curriculum Links)

The module focuses on developing intercultural understanding through the following learning objectives.  Students will:

This guide provides information about the three activities in this module:

These activities are complementary but can also be used independently.  Each activity is supported with suggested teacher-led introductory and concluding activities.  For the online components students can work individually, in pairs or as small groups.  These activities can also be adapted for use with a smartboard.

Activity 1: The Bat Story

In this activity students explore a short traditional folk story about Bat, which explores difference and exclusion.  The story is presented by storyteller Donna Jacobs Sife.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Explain the meaning of inclusion and exclusion to your students.  Ask students to create two Y charts, one exploring how it feels to be included and the other exploring how it feels to be excluded.  Create the Y chart about inclusion as a whole class activity (e.g. Inclusion: feels like..., looks like..., sounds like...).  Then ask students to work in small groups to create another Y chart about exclusion.

Online Activity

Before commencing this activity, familiarise your students with how to navigate through the website.

Part A: Bat story
In this activity students watch a video of a short story about Bat, who is excluded by the animals because of his wings and the birds because of his fur and teeth.

Students are then asked to imagine that they are a creature who has heard about Bat and his story.  They draw a picture of their chosen creature and write a comment expressing the views their creature has about what happened to Bat.

Part B: Different endings
Students are asked to think about the different ways The Bat Story could have ended.  Students answer three questions about the ending.  Their answers can be written in their exercise books or typed online and printed to save.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Explain to your students that folk stories, like Bat Story, have been told over many years in many countries.  Discuss the following questions:

You may also like to explore the idea of different endings further to encourage students to see that they can influence situations where exclusion occurs.  This can be done by asking students to work in groups to develop and perform short role-plays about Bat story, which end differently.

Activity 2: Stories about Discrimination

This activity explores discrimination.  Students watch and respond to short videos where different Australians share their experiences of discrimination.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Write the word 'discrimination' on the board and use how, what, why, and when questions to develop a class understanding and definition of what it means.

Online Activity

Part A: Feeling excluded
In this activity students watch three videos in which they hear from people who have experienced discrimination.  Students are given reflection questions to think about or discuss after each video.

Once students have watched all three videos they are asked to write a response to the question "What are some of the reasons that people exclude and discriminate against other people?"

Concluding Activity — Offline

Working individually or in pairs, ask students to write an acrostic poem about discrimination.  Each line of the poem starts with a letter from the word discrimination.

Activity 3: A Day at the Beach

In this activity students explore inclusive and exclusive texts.  They re-version a short story about a day at the beach so that the story incorporates reference to diverse people and cultural practices.  Students consider the significance of these changes.

A printable version of the story and cloze activity is also available.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Provide students, working in groups, with a selection of popular magazines and advertising material.  Ask students to look at the people in the material provided.  Ask each group to identify characteristics of the people who are included in the images: What ages are the people?  What races are shown?  What size are the people?  Are they attractive?  Do any have disabilities?

As a class discuss the following questions:

Online Activity

Part A: Read the story
Students are asked to read a story about a day at the beach.  The story presents a humorous and simplistic vision of an Australian beach scene.  Various words are glossarised to assist students.

Part B: Write your story
Students are presented with a form which allows them to change key words in the story through the use of drop down menus next to these words.  Students select an alternative word that is reflective of the diversity in Australia today.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Discuss the following questions with students:

  1. Did you prefer the original or new version of the story?  Why?
  2. Why might different people prefer different versions?
  3. Do you think stories can make some readers feel included and some readers feel excluded?  Why?
  4. What have you learnt from this activity?
You may like to challenge students to create their own story, which is an example of an inclusive text.

Module Reflection

You may like to use a reflection or self-assessment strategy to monitor student engagement with this module.

Further Activity Ideas