Say what you mean – except THAT!

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  • Create Date June 7, 2023
  • Last Updated June 18, 2023

Say what you mean – except THAT!

Created by Essie Szklinski

Brief Description

Appropriate for grades 8-10.

This activity is a pre-reading for We and They by Rudyard Kipling or as a personal social awareness exercise. Also, it is useful for distinguishing different perspectives (HOTS). Students will recognize and own their own hidden biases by observing clique behaviors (in a video) they can identify with. They will learn vocabulary (lyrics and ladder) to deal with behaviors and change the scripts (stem sentences) to allow them a more empathetic, less judgmental perspective of others.


Learning Objectives

The students will:

  • learn and use inquiry and acknowledgment vocabulary
  • distinguish different perspectives
  • be less judgmental of the uncomfortable
  • recognize their own hidden bias


Lead-in / Preparation / Prerequisite Knowledge

Materials that need to be prepped in advance:


Estimated Class-Time Required

Preferably 2 consecutive 45-minute lessons with a possible 5-minute break if needed. However, this can be done well in 2 single lessons.


Description of Activities


  1. Vocabulary written/posted on board/posters around title: Status Quo. Review vocabulary – elicit how the words are connected to the titles. Have someone take a photo of the board and send it to class Whatsapp for reference. 


  1. Students will receive the lyrics for the song: Status Quo-High School Musical (worksheet #1) with vocabulary in bold. Read aloud together and explain possible slang/USA concepts that the students aren't familiar with. Quick show of hands: Who thinks this happens in our school? At work? Answer: Where else? Why?


  1. Watch YouTube clip Ask students to write down thoughts as they watch (any language): how does the song/clip make them feel and why? Were they surprised?


  1. In pairs: fill in LADDER (Worksheet #2) for one of the main characters and her/ his peer group who said "no". Elicit 1 or 2 responses to share.


  1. Same pairs: role play (video and send to teacher/ at least 2 minute conversation) and guided writing (Worksheet #3)


*Optional: for fun 


*Possible homework for older students:

Watch video. Write a short essay comparing Status Quo with All That We Share (2 or 3 points). How do the questions in All That We Share affect our perspectives?



Key Vocabulary / Phrases

Worksheets # 1,2, & 3 cover the vocabulary




Students should use the stem sentences correctly in their video and writing.

Be able to fill in the Ladder and write a new reaction.

Know the vocabulary when quizzed in future lessons.

Be able to identify with one side or the other during discussion and ask (inquiry) to understand the other side.

Create their own "boxes" video.

Rewrite the words of the song about other groups in their community.



Writing their reflection in the guided writing assignment.

Sharing another song or video or form of art that represents the concepts discussed.






Each activity can be suited to different grade/ strength levels and with any song that has or implies a conversation.


Attached Files

Ladder Status Quo wrkst #2.docx.pdfDownload
Pathways Sentence Stems for Ladder video and writing wksht #3 final.docx.pdfDownload
Status Quo lyrics wksht #1.docx.pdfDownload