Understanding Reasons for Differences
Submitted by: Sandy Adams
Pass out class set of Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade. Begin by reading the first couple of chapters aloud with your class until you have completed the section describing Elsie and the reactions the other children have to her joining their class. (In this section, Elsie is described as grossly overweight, and the children in the book make fat jokes.)
Then, pass out manila drawing paper and ask your students to draw pictures of Elsie as they refer back to her description in the book. Allow your students to talk as they draw, and they will most likely make fat jokes and laugh together as they show each other their drawings. Lead a class discussion about why others make fun of Elsie, but do not impose your views on them at this time. Continue to read this book aloud and discuss it. As the book continues, and the children in your class realize the reasons for Elsie's problems, their collective attitudes will change toward her. Discuss the events and the book characters' change of feelings toward Elsie as you go along.
When you finish the novel, lead a discussion with your students as to how their own attitudes toward Elsie changed and why. Lead them to conclude that it is never right to ridicule someone for how they look or act because there are always reasons for the differences.