Human Rights

The undesirables

Author(s): Chad Thumann


Social Justice focus: Intolerance

Synopsis: In this fable the king and queen of the kingdom order that all the “undesirables” be locked away. When Granvilan, the chief jailor, asks who qualifies as an undesirable they list one category after another – Archprickilys to Zoozles. Granvilan eventually realizes no one will escape banishment and he comes up with a more satisfying solution. Clear connections to current political realities throughout the world.

Lesson Plan: Haley Besworth

Primary/Junior/Intermediate Lesson Plan (Abbreviated Template)

Consecutive and Concurrent Programs

Unit/Topic: Intro Class: Historical Inclusion/Exclusion

Grade: 8

Lesson: What is the focus of this lesson in relation to the unit?

  1. Diagnostic questioning to see where student knowledge/understanding and opinions/feelings are regarding inclusion and exclusion and residential schools
  2. Reflect on previous knowledge of bias, point of view, and symbolism
  3. Structured research and questions to model inquiry-based projects

Curriculum Areas: What are possible connections to other curricular areas?

  • Grade 8 History
  • Grade 8 Language Arts
  • Grade 8 Visual Arts

Curriculum Expectations: What Overall and Specific Expectations will be addressed?

Grade 8 History

B3. Understanding Historical Context: describe various significant people, issues, events, and developments in Canada between 1890 and 1914, including the residential school system, and explain their impact (pg. 163)

B3.5 Describe significant examples of cooperation and conflict in Canada during this period (i.e. conflict or cooperation between Indigenous families and residential schools) (pg. 167)

Grade 8 Language Arts

1. Read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning (pg. 141)

1.6 Extending Understanding: extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other texts, and to the world around them (i.e. do you have prior knowledge or experiences that affect the way you interpret the author’s message?) (pg. 142)

2. Recognize a variety of text forms, text features, and stylistic elements and demonstrate understanding of how they help communicate meaning (pg. 141)

2.4 Elements of style: identify a range of elements of style—including symbolism, irony, analogy, metaphor, and other rhetorical devices—and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness of texts (pg. 142)

Grade 8 Visual Arts

D1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process to produce art works in a variety of traditional two- and three-dimensional forms, as well as multimedia art works, that communicate feelings, ideas, and understandings, using elements, principles, and techniques of visual arts as well as current media technologies (pg. 154)

D1.3 use elements of design in art works to communicate ideas, messages, and understandings for a specific audience and purpose (pg. 155)

Learning Goal(s): What are students expected to know, do and understand? We are learning to….

  • I will communicate uniqueness and difference through creating an art piece resembling the style of characters found in the book (C)
  • I will use my prior knowledge of bias and point of view and relate it to the book through orally discussing questions as a class (K/U)
  • I will discuss how symbolism is used connecting historical events to the book through answering the reflection questions (K/U)
  • I will do research on residential schools and the names listed in the book acknowledgements by reading the Google doc provided to my group (I)
  • I will connect the themes in the book to the further reading I have done (i.e. in the written answers as a group) (A)
  • I will relate the conflicts among the characters/events in the book to the conflicts found in the residential school system and other historical events in my group’s answers to the reflection questions (A)

Success Criteria: How will students know they have met the learning goal? I can….

Art Piece:

I can:

  1. Independently work to create a “undesirable subject” from the book of my own, that resembles the style of “subjects” found in the book (i.e. unique, colourful, multiple textures, different objects, facial features, clothing)
  2. Use a minimum of two materials used (i.e. magazine clips, markers, construction paper, textures)
  3. Fit my art piece onto a regular sized piece of paper

Reflection Questions and Group Work:

I can:

  1. Actively listen to the reading of the book “The Undesirables” by Paule Briere
  2. Think pair share regarding the classroom discussion questions with my partner and with the class
  3. Read the book with my table group
  4. Answer part one of the reflection questions about the book independently (on the back of my art piece)
  5. Read the Google doc provided about the “book acknowledgement” names, and residential schools
  6. Answer part two of the reflection question about the book as a group and record the answers on a chart paper
  7. Staple my art creation to the chart paper and place my anchor chart around the room
  8. Participate in the gallery walk of anchor charts by reading what other groups have answered and check-marking ideas that I liked
  9. Participate in a classroom discussion and exit pass after the gallery walk by expressing my observations, questions, opinions, feelings, or likes/dislikes, etc.

MODIFICATIONS / ACCOMMODATIONS How will I meet the needs of my students? Have I addressed any IEPs?

  • Purposeful groupings based on strengths, next steps, learning styles, achievement levels, background knowledge
  • Pre-picked Google doc with information on historical events (with reading levels, content, and level of understanding predetermined)
  • Visual component: picture book
  • Artistic component: art piece
  • Technological component: research
  • Auditory component: teacher reading the book and group reading the book
  • Small-group work
  • Partner work
  • Independent work
  • Inquiry questions provided, but room for creative and deeper thinking based off of the questions
  • Prompts throughout learning (teacher moving between groups to conference)
  • Use of think, pair, share
  • Scaffolding the learning throughout: start as a class and end in groups; begin with artistic component and lead into reflection questions; difficulty of questions increasing; simple reading resource leading up to website articles; only introducing one component of the learning at a time (i.e. art piece first, then independent questions, then group questions, then gallery walk)

** Please note each ‘period’ is 50 minutes **

Minds-on: How will I connect to prior and future learning? How will I engage students and set the context for learning?

Minutes: How much time will I allocate? (0.5-1.0 of a period)

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

  • Brainstorm previous knowledge about residential schools (first think, pair, share, and then teacher writes on the white board)
  • Present learning goals to the class
  • Read the book as a class

Class discussion: (recapping on our last lesson about bias and points of view; think, pair, share and class-wide discussion)

  1. Do you think there is any bias in the story?
  2. Who’s point of views were included and who’s were excluded?
  • Read the book at your table groups (photocopies; acknowledgement page not included)

** Please note table groups are previously set up for success (i.e. multiple learning styles, achievement levels, different prior knowledge) **

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

Nature of the assessment: for learning – class participation and discussion to further learning development and assess learning styles (anecdotal notes)

Purpose of the assessment: diagnostic (gain understanding of if students understood the previous lesson on bias/point of view; and understanding of where knowledge of residential schools/inclusion and exclusion is at).

Action: How will I introduce new learning / reinforce prior learning / practice learning / scaffold learning?

Minutes: How much time will I allocate? (Art piece creation: 1.0 period; Part one reflection questions: 0.5 period; Part two reflection questions: 1.5-2.0 periods; 3.5-4.0 periods total)

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

** Handout “Reflective Activity & Questions” sheet to the students and explain the instructions on it

Part One: Present Success Criteria for the art project portion

  1. Students will make their own “undesirable subject” who lives in the Kingdom using the materials provided (magazines, construction paper, markers, etc.)
  2. Paste your “subject” onto a piece of paper

Part Two: Present Success Criteria for the first part of the reflection questions portion

On the back of the art pieces’ students will answer the following four questions:

  1. What makes your “subject” unique?
  2. Would your “subject” be considered undesirable by the King and Queen? Why or why not?
  3. Why were certain subjects deemed undesirable? What was their punishment for being undesirable?
  4. What are your thoughts and opinions on the King’s and Queen’s actions?

** As a class read the “book acknowledgement” **

Part Three: Present Success Criteria for the second part of the reflection questions and the group anchor chart portion

  • Distribute book acknowledgement photocopied page to each table group
  • As a group discuss students will discuss if they recognize any of the names listed in the book acknowledgement
  • Students will then refer to the google doc shared with them on Google Drive (which gives further information about the names listed as well as residential school events/circumstances)
  • Students will answer the following questions on an anchor chart:
  1. What do all the names listed in the “Book Acknowledgement” have in common (make dot jot points about commonalities)?
  2. What do you think the purpose of the “Book Acknowledgement” is?
  3. Now that you have read the “Book Acknowledgement” and read some further information, do you have different opinions, or feelings about the story?
  4. What could the characters in the book symbolize in relation to the historical events in the Google doc and why do you think that?
  5. How does the book relate to residential schools?

After students answer the questions, students will staple the art pieces on the anchor chart.

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

Nature of the assessment: for learning – Art piece (visual); answering independent reflection questions (written); answering group reflection questions (written) [assess learning strengths and next steps].

Purpose of the assessment: formative – deeper thinking about the themes of the book; connections to historical events; research and connecting research to the book; answering IBL questions; [inform teacher of where to take the unit from there to best benefit the students].

Consolidation: How will I reflect on the learning goal? How will I have students reflect on the learning goal?

Minutes: How much time will I allocate? (1.0 period)

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

  • Gallery walk – read other groups’ work and check-mark what you liked or had not previously thought of
  • Class discussion consolidating the learning: what we learned, what we want to know more about, and our feelings surrounding the topic/our opinions of the book

Exit pass:

  1. What question(s) do you still have? Or what do you want to learn more about?
  2. What would you tell any of the following characters/people if you had the opportunity to share your feelings or opinion on the situation? (i.e. a more inclusive solution)
    • The King and Queen
    • Those in charge of residential schools
    • Any of the names listed in the “book acknowledgement”

** Next class we will be discussing about how the book uses dramatic irony and relating it to residential schools and literature/artistic works focused on mistreatment of indigenous peoples that also use dramatic irony **

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

Nature of the assessment: for learning – Gallery walk, class discussion, exit pass

Purpose of the assessment: formative – Allow students to view other opinions, feelings, perspectives; gain insight into further areas of interest students may have; understand if students gained an understanding of the content studied; [assess next steps for individuals as well as the class as a whole]

MATERIALS: What resources and materials do I need? Where can I find them? In a perfect world what other resources might I need?

  • Photocopies of the book “The Undesirables” by Paule Briere
  • Hardcopy book “The Undesirables” by Paule Briere
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Magazines
  • Construction paper
  • Textured materials
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Chromebooks/laptops
  • Pre-picked websites (on historical events)

REFLECTION: Questions to determine the success of your lesson:

  • Were my students successful in meeting the learning goals and success criteria? How do I know?
  • Did my instructional decisions meet the needs of all students? If not, what are my next steps?
  • What worked well and why?
  • What will I do differently in the future when teaching this lesson? For the subsequent lesson?
  • What are the next steps for my professional learning?

Name: __________________________Date: _________________________


Reflective Activity & Questions on:

“The Undesirables” by Paul Briere

  1. Create your own “Undesirable Subject” who lives in the Kingdom from the book using the materials provided (i.e. magazines, construction paper, markets, glue sticks, scissors)
  2. Paste your “Undesirable” creation on a blank piece of paper
  3. After reading the picture please answer the following questions independently and write the answers on the back of your “Undesirable” creation:
  4. What makes your “Undesirable” subject unique?
  5. Would your “Undesirable” subject be considered undesirable by the King and Queen? Why or why not?


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Social Justice Picture Books Copyright © 2019 by Ruth McQuirter, editor and Gurbinder Kaur, contributing editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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