Lesson Plan: Who decides if I belong?

Image of young man behind transparent board with the word respect written on it

This lesson plan offers an in-depth exploration for high school students into the themes of identity, belonging, discrimination, and migration. Through interactive activities, thought-provoking video screenings, and discussions, students will engage with the complex dynamics of how identity is shaped and the role discrimination plays in one’s sense of belonging. The 150-minute lesson aims to foster empathy and a nuanced understanding of diverse experiences, challenging students to reflect on their own identities in relation to those with migration backgrounds and to consider their roles in creating inclusive societies and standing up against discrimination.

Content Focus

Subject/context: English language, social sciences

Length: 150-minute session (or two 75-minute sessions).

Language of workshop: English (videos available with German subtitles)

Student level: 10-12th graders, minimum B2 English

Key Question: What does belonging mean and what role does migration background play in one’s sense of belonging?

Global Education Topics:  Identity, discrimination, racism, belonging, migration, perceptions and attitudes towards people with migration backgrounds, home.

Main Learning Objective: Students will analyze and reflect on how discrimination and racism call into question the belonging of certain groups.

Sub Learning Objectives:

  • Explore the role identity plays in one’s sense of belonging.
  • Reflect on how they can stand up against discrimination and racism.

Lesson Outline

Class Introduction (10 mins)

Objective: Set the stage for the lesson and prepare students for the topic.

Activity: Briefly outline the session’s goals and the key question.

Ice Breaker – My Identity (20 mins)

Objective:  Engage students in self-reflection and initiate conversation about identity.


  • Each student receives a sticky note and writes three words that best describe their identity.
  • Students place their notes on a board or flip chart and silently read the responses from others in the class.
  • Discussion: Facilitate a 10-minute conversation about their contributions, asking the students where they see similarities and differences in the way their classmates described themselves; what was emphasized and what was left out; how our perceptions of ourselves may differ from how others see us.

Video Screening #1 (15 mins)

Objective: Introduce diverse perspectives on migration and identity from youth from around Europe.


  • Introduction: Explain the Migration Matters videos and their relevance to the key question. Encourage students to consider the varied experiences of the youth in the videos and keep in mind statements that are most striking to them.
  • Screening:  Video #1 (I am here for many reasons) and #2 (I am many things), pausing for vocabulary and comprehension checks as needed.

Think / Pair / Share (25 mins)

Objective: Connect personal experiences with broader concepts of identity and belonging.


  • Think: Quotes from the videos are printed and laid out for students. Students read the quotes and select the one that most resonated with them or with which they can most identify.
  • A set of diverse picture cards are on another table. Once students have selected a quote, they choose the picture that they think best matches the quote they have chosen.
  • Pair: In groups of three to four, students discuss why they paired certain quotes and pictures together and how they relate or not to the students’ own identities.
  • Share: Groups present their main insights to the larger class.

Understanding Terminology (20 mins)

Objective: Deepen understanding of key concepts related to the lesson.


  • Key terms like identity, belonging, discrimination, and racism are added to individual flipchart papers or boards.
  • Students in small groups rotate around the room and contribute their thoughts on each term through words, drawings, or discussions on flipchart papers.
  • Discussion: Facilitate a 10-minute conversation about their contributions to consolidate their understanding.

Video Screening #2 (20 mins)

Objective: Prepare students for the subsequent Graffiti Wall activity by engaging with video content focused on diverse migration experiences from around Europe.


  • Before the screening, students are assigned one of the three questions from the upcoming Graffiti Wall activity (see below).
  • Introduction: Explain the Migration Matters videos and instruct students to take notes specifically related to their assigned question during the videos. Explain that the videos showcase both migrants and people with migration backgrounds and briefly describe the differences to provide context.
  • Screening: Video #1 (I am not always welcome) and #2 (I am from here), pausing for vocabulary and comprehension checks as needed.

Graffiti On The Wall & Discussion (30 mins)

Objective: Analyze and discuss the experiences and suggestions of the video protagonists in relation to migration, identity, and belonging.


  • Students with the same assigned question meet in small groups and discuss their notes from the video screening.  They collaboratively write down their thoughts on the Graffiti Wall flip chart or board (15 mins).
  • Discussion Questions:
    1. What kind of experiences have the protagonists mentioned? Are these experiences related to discrimination, racism, microaggression, etc.?
    2. How were the experiences of migrants and people with migration backgrounds in the videos similar and/or different? Who decides who belongs to a society?
    3. What suggestions did the protagonists make to improve the situation of migrants and people with a migration background? What do they think should be added?
  • Discussion: Facilitate a 15-minute conversation about their contributions and ask students to share their thoughts to the responses of the other groups.

Closing (10 mins)

Objective: Wrap up the lesson and reinforce learning.


  • Recap the main points discussed.
  • Reflect on the key question and how their perceptions may have shifted.

Additional Notes & Suggestions

Materials Needed: Sticky notes, flip charts or boards, markers and pens, print outs with video quotes, projector for videos, moderation or picture cards.

Preparation: Prepare printed out quotes from the first two videos, prepare handouts of graffiti on the wall discussion questions to share before the second screening, source and test video equipment.

Videos: There are many other videos from this Migration Matters series that you can screen instead of or in addition to those suggested.

Remain flexible: Some discussions or activities may take longer than anticipated and instructors should feel free to adjust timings and activities as needed.

This lesson plan was created as part of the “Research meets school – new perspectives on migration and integration” project and made possible through support by ‘Friends of the WZB’ (Social Science Center Berlin) and the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung (LPB). If you’re interested in Migration Matters giving an offline or online workshop for your students, reach out to us at team[at]migrationmatters.me. All Migration Matters videos are freely available on YouTube and can be used for non-commercial purposes. This lesson plan is free to use and circulate.