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Two Towns of Jasper

Premiere Date: January 22, 2003


Lesson Plan: Examining Prejudice

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Viewing Two Towns of Jasper will provide students with a starting point to research and discuss diversity in our culture and the impact intolerance has on a variety of groups in our society. In this lesson students will take a hidden bias test to uncover the existence of hidden biases, research the struggles faced by certain people living in the United States, and reflect on how they arrived at their own convictions and how firmly they are committed to their beliefs.

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By the end of this lesson, students will:

  • evaluate personal hidden biases
  • synthesize information from a variety of sources
  • analyze convictions and commitment to social issues


SUBJECT AREAS: Civics, U.S. History, Law, Multiculturalism



1. DVD of the POV/PBS program Two Towns of Jasper.
2. Computers with Internet access.
3. Copies of "Where I Stand on the Issues" chart.

Background Activity - One class period (This may vary depending on how many computers are available.)
Activity One - One class period
Activity Two - Two class periods, plus homework preparation
Activity Three - One class period, plus homework assignment
Activity Four - One class period, plus homework assignment

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The purpose of this activity is for students to build background knowledge on hidden biases.

  1. Send students to the website at to evaluate their hidden biases.
  2. Tell students to select and complete one of the tests.
  3. After the students have completed the test, discuss the results. The following is a list of suggested discussion questions:
    •   Did the results show that you have some hidden bias?
    •   Were you surprised by the results? Explain.
    •   What do you think might be some of the reasons behind your test results?

Focus for Viewing:
This activity may be used during the viewing of Two Towns of Jasper.

  1. Tell the students to divide a piece of paper into six equal sections and write one of the following headings in each section. As students watch the films, they will record information from the film under the appropriate headings.
    •   I learned that...
    •   I noticed that...
    •   I was surprised when...
    •   I was upset when...
    •   I was happy when...
    •   I discovered that...
  2. After viewing the film, use the information to discuss the film and summarize the point of view of the filmmakers.

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In this activity, students will watch clips from Two Towns of Jasper and engage in discussions and role-playing activities based on quotations from the programs.

Teacher Note: Some of the scenes from the Two Towns of Jasper program contain only one person; for these scenes, pair two students together. Other scenes contain several people sitting around a table. For these multiple-people scenes, use a student to play each person in the scene and add an additional student to respond to what was said by the people in the clip.

  1. Watch the following clips from Two Towns of Jasper.

    • Clip 1 (Timecode: 11:30)
      The table scene in the hotel when the people talk about how if you ask a black person if there is racism they'll say yes, and a lot of white people will say no because they don't see it.

    • Clip 2 (Timecode: 41:31)
      Walter Diggles talks about how there is still a problem in this country with the perceptions of blacks and how you can't control or change a white man's heart.

    • Clip 3 (Timecode: 43:16)
      The scene from the hotel where the man says that he is amazed at how people have become so easily offended.

    • Clip 4 (Timecode: 54:38)
      Rev. Ray Charles Lewis talks about how he didn't know what was going through their minds when they deleted Martin Luther King Day from the school calendar after they had fought so hard to get that day. He also talks about how he doesn't think that they are trying very hard to heal.

    • Clip 5 (Timecode: 1:01:18)
      The scene where the people in the hotel are talking about how Shawn was never a racist and he had his prejudice the same as they do.

    • Clip 5 (Timecode: 1:03:34)
      Mary Vernet talks about how Shawn could have made a difference that night and they want mercy shown to them when they didn't show any mercy.

    • Clip 6 (Timecode: 1:24:16)
      The end of the program when the woman talks about how the fence could have stayed up, and that coming together is what they need.

  2. Ask students to write down the dialog or conversation from each clip.
  3. After each clip, ask students to role-play what happened in the clip.
  4. Ask one of the students to pretend that they are the person in the program and ask them to repeat what the person in the program said to their partner. The partner will then respond to the comment, the comment being the quote from the program.
  5. Allow students several minutes to hold a conversation based on the quotations from the program.
  6. Allow time for the groups to discuss what happened in their role-playing conversations.

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The purpose of this activity is for students to participate in a discussion on prejudice and its effect on society and people's civil rights.

  1. Do a "Think-Pair-Share" activity, in which students pair up, discuss questions and then participate in a large-group discussion. Pairs begin by discussing the following questions:
    •   What happens when people are judged by the way they look?
    •   What is prejudice? (List examples of how prejudice causes some people to stereotype others.)
    •   What are some examples of prejudice resulting in unfair treatment of people?
    •   Why do you think some people are prejudiced?
    •   What is tolerance? (List examples of ways people practice tolerance or respect toward others.)
    •   What do people gain or lose from respecting or not respecting other people's diversity?
    •   What do you think the United States and the world in general gain or lose from not respecting diversity?
    •   What are some things that can happen when people practice intolerance over a long period of time?
    •   What can people do to help create an environment that encourages respect for all persons?
  2. Have the pairs share their insights with the entire class.
  3. Discuss how prejudice and intolerance have affected people's civil rights.

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In this activity students will research the struggles faced by different groups of people.

  1. Divide the class into groups and assign each group one of the following topics:
    •   African-Americans
    •   Gays and Lesbians
    •   Native Americans
    •   Women
    •   Arab Muslims
    •   Asian Americans
    •   Body Image bias
    •   Age bias
  2. Ask each group to collect information on the particular stereotypes, struggles and violation of civil rights its group faces.
  3. Provide time for each group to report its findings to the class.

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The purpose of this activity is for students to consider how they have arrived at their convictions and how firmly they are committed to their beliefs.

  1. Ask students to spend a few minutes answering these questions. Teacher Note: Tell the students that their responses are for their own use and will not be collected or graded.

    Where do I stand on the following issues:
    •   African-American rights
    •   Gay and Lesbian rights
    •   Native American rights
    •   Women's rights
    •   Arab Muslim rights
    •   Asian American rights
    •   Body Image bias
    •   Age bias

  2. After students have spent time reflecting on where they stand on the issues, ask them to fill out the "Where I Stand on the Issues" Chart.
  3. After students have completed the chart, break the class into groups of three or four.
  4. Ask each student to select one issue to discuss with the group members. Teacher Note: Tell students that the point here is not to defend their position, but rather to discuss how they arrived at their beliefs.
  5. Homework Assignment: Have students write a "Stop And Consider Letter" to an elected official, friend, relative, etc.

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Teacher Evaluation
Create individual student portfolios of students' work.
Observe students in the following areas:

  •   Growth in cognitive skills
  •   Interactions that occur during group work
  •   Growth in social skills
  •   Growth in attitudes toward learning

Conference with each student on these topics:

  •   His or her goals
  •   Strategies for learning
  •   Solutions to problems

Student Self Evaluation
What did I learn from this activity?
What do I still want to learn about this topic?
What part of my work on this activity gives me a sense of achievement?
What would I do differently next time?
In what ways was I able to work with others on this activity?
What did I like most about this activity?

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Work as a class to create a school or community initiative for tolerance. The following sites provide many ideas on the topic.

UNESCO: Ten Ideas for Observing the International Day for Tolerance (PDF)

Ten Things You Can Do To Fight Prejudice and Racism (PDF)

Southern Poverty Law Center: 101 Tools For Tolerance (PDF)

10 Ways To Fight Hate

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Browse Online Compendium Standards and Benchmarks (

(10) Understands the roles of voluntarism and organized groups in American social and political life

No. Description
6 Knows the historical and contemporary role of various organized groups in local, state, and national politics (e.g., unions; professional organizations; religious, charitable, service, and civic groups)

(11) Understands the role of diversity in American life and the importance of shared values, political beliefs, and civic beliefs in an increasingly diverse American society

No. Description
2 Knows different viewpoints regarding the role and value of diversity in American life
3 Knows examples of conflicts stemming from diversity, and understands how some conflicts have been managed and why some of them have not yet been successfully resolved

Thinking and Reasoning:
(6) Applies decision-making techniques
Level IV Grade: 9-12

No. Description
5 Evaluates major factors that influence personal decisions

Working With Others:

No. Description
1 Contributes to the overall effort of a group
Level IV Grade: K-12

United States History:
(31) Understands economic, social, and cultural developments in the contemporary United States.
Level IV Grade: 9-12

No. Description
5 Understands major contemporary social issues and the groups involved

Language Arts (Writing):

No. Description
1 Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

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