Curriculum Guide

Let's Get Real

Let's Get Real

Examines issues that lead to taunting and bullying, including racial differences, perceived sexual orientation, learning disabilities, religious differences, sexual harassment and others. Part of The Respect For All Project.

This 132 page Curriculum Guide includes an extensive selection of pre- and post-viewing activities designed to engage youth discussing issues from the film. Contained in the guide is a list of supplemental readings and resources for youth and adults.

Guide is FREE with purchase of DVD (except home users)
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About the Film and Curriculum Guide

Studies consistently show that name-calling, bullying and school-based violence are on the rise. These problems have become so widespread that many young people and adults have come to accept them as inevitable rites of passage. We created Let’s Get Real and this curriculum guide to challenge this belief.

We urge adults who work with youth to dig deeper to help kids examine the issues that underlie the bullying epidemic. Together, this film and guide reflect some of the best thinking of educators, child-health advocates and violence-prevention experts from around the country.

When we asked young people to tell us how they were singled out or targeted for harassment, issues such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, body size and immigration status, among others, came to the forefront. And yet, they told us, these issues are rarely, if ever, discussed in an honest way as part of the curriculum. We’ve designed exercises and activities to help you generate much-needed discussion about these sensitive subjects.

Though this curriculum guide is written primarily for middle and junior high school teachers, it can be easily adapted for use by high school teachers, school counselors, administrators, youth-service organizations, after-school providers and religious groups. It is divided into six main sections: We have organized information in this way to provide planning and preparation tips, pre-film and post-film activities, and additional assignments and resources.

While no one resource alone can eradicate name-calling and bullying, we know that fostering dialogue is the first step toward meaningful change. We at The Respect For All Project hope this film and guide will help you achieve just that. Share your stories with us at

Where to Use This Film and Guide

In the classroom and school. Use the film and curriculum as part of a health, language arts or social studies curriculum or any class in which diversity or bullying is a topic or a concern. The film can provide a focal point for a school-wide anti-bullying curriculum or initiative. It can also be used during middle or junior high school orientations for students.

In before- or after-school programs. Use the film and curriculum to complement programs for young people around the school day.

As a counseling, peer-education or intervention tool. Use the film and curriculum to assist with one-on-one counseling sessions, as well as in peer-to-peer programs (with adult guidance) or situations in which intervention is advisable following a serious incident or problem.

At parent/guardian support meetings. Introduce the film and curriculum at parent/ guardian-education and community-support meetings to help parents, guardians and other adults focus on supporting young people (and their teachers) at home and at school.

In the community. Use the film as part of a town hall meeting or community forum on youth issues. Show it at a film festival or as a feature presentation at a conference. Use it in programs at recreation centers, summer camps or other organizations serving young people. Watch and discuss it at your workplace.

As a staff development tool. Use the film and curriculum at staff-development workshops, trainings or staff-advisory meetings.

What You Should Do Before Showing Let’s Get Real to Students

Consider your audience. Let’s Get Real is appropriate for students in grades six and up.

Preview the curriculum first. Watch the film yourself in its entirety first before showing it to students. Familiarize yourself with the contents of this guide before your first lesson.

Prepare for the emotional impact. Because Let’s Get Real deals with serious topics, some students (and adults) may have strong emotional responses to this film. This is OK, even desirable, but be sure to plan enough time for discussion and activities both before and after the film. Avoid situations in which the film is used to “fill up” unstructured or unsupervised time, discussed only in a single period, or used by a substitute teacher.

Plan how to discuss sensitive topics such as suicide and thoughts about extreme violence. Some students in the film talk about feeling very depressed, even suicidal. Another boy in the film is so angry and hurt from being harassed that he fantasizes about hurting others with a gun. Do not shy away from these distinct and important topics. It is important for health and safety reasons to talk about them. If possible, consult with a suicide-prevention or violence-prevention expert or counselor.

Think about how to address bad words. The young people in Let’s Get Real use words that are offensive and inappropriate when used in other contexts. We included their honest accounts of the language they hear or say so that groups using this film can get these words out in the open, talk about their impact and discuss why people say them. Among the words you will hear used in the film are ass, whore, fag, bitch and nigger. For additional tips on addressing language in the film, see p. 10.

Consider ways to make every student feel included. When discussing power dynamics between students, it is especially important to ensure that every student has an equal voice. Avoid letting a few students dominate the discussion. For additional tips on facilitating discussion, see p. 35.

Share the curriculum with parents and guardians. In advance of showing the film to your students and conducting lessons around it, send a letter to family members explaining the film and why you’re showing it. Invite them to preview the film and curriculum. (See sample letter on p. 120-121.)

Ask for input and collaboration from administrators/colleagues. Invite principals, counselors and other colleagues to watch the film in advance. By doing so, the larger school community will be invested in the curriculum and prepared to address emotional issues that may arise. You may want to invite a colleague or counselor to “team teach” these lessons with you. Better yet, because bullying is a school-wide problem, ask to review the film and curriculum as part of a staff-development training.

Review your district policy on supplemental curricula. You may need to observe special policies governing the use of supplemental materials in the classroom or take steps to the have the film adopted as part of the curriculum. Ask your principal.

A Closer Look: More About “Bad Words”

It’s important for adults and students to get on the same page about which words are being used among students as put-downs, why they are used, and how they might be motivated by internal prejudice or bias.

However, conducting a lesson about slurs is hard, especially when we can’t mention the words themselves. This is probably why schools avoid lessons on the subject altogether, leaving students to navigate and cope with the world of slurs on their own.

Some educators believe that explicitly discussing slurs in a structured, safe and educational setting helps to demystify them by fostering a shared understanding of slurs and their impact and giving students an outlet to share personal experiences, possibly for the first time, without worrying that they need to edit themselves.

Other educators adamantly believe that the explicit naming of “bad words” is never appropriate, even in lessons designed to prevent their future use. They believe that the sharing of slurs may be deeply offensive to or uncomfortable for individual teachers as well as students, and may even serve to normalize the use of such words.

We believe it is up to each school community to resolve this question on its own. Some points to consider:

  1. Discuss and listen to the opinions of students, parents, colleagues, administrators, and, most of all, yourself as you develop your approach on slurs.
  2. If you decide to allow instructional sharing of slurs in class, make sure there are clear guidelines for when and how students may use certain words, as well as a way for students to express discomfort at any time.
  3. If you and your students decide instead to adopt a coding system for bad words – e.g., “the n word” or perhaps “the word that Umma used in the film” be sure everyone knows and agrees on what each code word stands for. Keep in mind that even if students want to avoid using slurs in class, they may not know how to refer to a subject respectfully. You might say, “If you aren’t sure of the respectful word for someone or something, ask.”

Remember to add your new protocol on how to discuss slurs or inappropriate language to your list of classroom agreements.

Planning an Anti-bullying Unit Using Let’s Get Real

Objectives are to help students:

Suggestions for planning your time:

  1. Devote a sufficient number of class periods to this topic. While technically you could simply show the film, it is best used as a springboard for in-depth learning. We have designed a model unit that calls for 12 class periods (see p. 13). While we realize this may be unrealistic in many school settings, we urge you to be creative and ambitious in how much time you make for this unit of study.
    At a minimum, we recommend you spend at least three class periods on this curriculum (see p. 15)
  2. Allow time for discussion both before and after the film itself. Regardless of how much time you have overall, ensure that you have time to prepare students for what they are about to see and time to help them process what they have just seen.
  3. Talk through feelings and issues immediately after watching the film. Do not wait until the next day! If possible, arrange to have a one-hour period the day you show the film. The film itself is 35 minutes in length.
  4. Show the film without interruption once. If possible, go back and review the film chapter by chapter.

Why show the film in its entirety and in segments?

Every copy of Let’s Get Real includes an uninterrupted version of the film, followed immediately by a version broken into eight chapters. Beginning on p. 36, this guide includes discussion questions and suggested activities for each chapter.

It might seem redundant, but in piloting this curriculum, we found that -in order to process it fully- many students really do need to see the film once as a whole, and then again in sections. Some students may not feel comfortable discussing any part of the film for more than 10 minutes at a time. We therefore recommend an extended unit making full use of the chapter-by-chapter discussion starters and activities in this guide. Of course, each class is different you know best what your students require. Do what feels right for you and your students.

Think – Pair – Share: Tips for Facilitating Discussion

Let’s Get Real is divided into eight chapters, each of which covers a variety of topics. The following pages include discussion questions and topics related to each chapter of the film. The chart on pp. 113 – 117 may be used as a reference for the names of students and issues raised in the film. Each day, review classroom agreements with students, including how to discuss slurs.

Using the THINK-PAIR-SHARE Format

With this curriculum, it is important that each student is heard, even though this may not always be possible in a large group. By encouraging students to reflect individually and then pairing with someone else, the THINK-PAIR-SHARE format provides each student with important reflection time and an audience for his or her thoughts.

  1. Have students THINK about the chapter of the film. Ask them to journal or write down their thoughts first.
  2. Ask students to form PAIRs or triads to discuss one or more main topics for each chapter. You may want to write down questions for them to answer.
  3. Have one person from each pair/triad SHARE the thinking of the small group with the class.

Keep in Mind

Establishing pairs or triads can be tricky: Some students feel anxious finding a partner or worry that no one will pick them. Others may wish to avoid being paired with someone who makes them uncomfortable. And, of course, some students want to be paired only with their closest peers, which is desirable for some, but not all, activities. For activities involving sharing, facilitate pairing students with someone they trust. They can provide this information confidentially to you on a piece of paper or an index card. For less personal exercises, you may wish to have students count off or rotate partners.

Consider posting the following guidelines in your classroom for working in pairs or groups:

  1. Each person has equal time to talk.
  2. Demonstrate active listening.
  3. Don’t interrupt.
  4. Respect your partner’s privacy.
  5. When it’s your turn, respond to the question — not to what your partner said.

Sample Pre-Film Activity: What is Bullying?


To establish a common understanding of bullying; to address disrespectful behavior more generally; to begin private reflection on students own experiences with bullying


20 minutes




Before discussing with students, familiarize yourself with the definition of the word bullying.

Bullying Defined
Most experts define bullying as unprovoked, repeated and aggressive actions or threats of action by one or more persons who have (or are perceived to have) more power or status than their victim in order to cause fear, distress or harm. Bullying can be physical, verbal, psychological or a combination of these three. Specific examples include name-calling, taunting, teasing and put-downs; saying or writing inappropriate things about a person; deliberately excluding a person from activities or conversation; threatening a person with bodily harm; hitting, kicking, tripping, shoving or otherwise inappropriately touching a person; taking or damaging a person’s belongings; and making a person do things he or she does not want to do. Bullying can also occur through electronic means via Web postings, e-mails, chat rooms and text messaging.

The above definition can be broken into four key components. Bullying involves:

Think of some examples of bullying involving:

Some experts include other components or types of bullying in their definition of bullying. Most distinguish bullying from isolated acts or teasing that does not involve intentional, aggressive behavior or a power differential between the target and perpetrator. Whatever definition of bullying you decide to work with, keep the definition and examples of bullying handy as you conduct this activity.


  1. Explain to students that, as an introduction to this unit, you want them to think about this question:
    What is bullying?
    You may wish to start off as a group, or to have them first think about this question alone and/or in pairs or triads. (See discussion on THINK-PAIR-SHARE on p. 35.) Encourage students to come up with examples of bullying by thinking about what they have seen, heard or experienced. Explain that they should not reveal names of real people involved in acts of bullying, and they do not have to share personal experiences at this point. Ask them to think of at least five examples of bullying.
  2. Ask for volunteers to come up with a list of examples of bullying. You may wish to highlight the kind of bullying involved (physical, verbal, emotional). Ask follow-up questions to elicit a full range of bullying that students witness or experience.
  3. After all examples are written down, ask:
    What is the difference between bullying and teasing?
    What is the difference between bullying and disrespectful behavior?

    • Keeping in mind the components of bullying on p. 21, help students see that while not all acts are bullying, they may still be disrespectful, or intentionally or unintentionally hurtful.
    • You may wish to review the students’ examples as a group to see whether they represent bullying or something else.
  4. Write down a definition of bullying on the board with input from the class. Then discuss how disrespectful behavior, though it might not be defined as bullying in every instance, may lead to an environment where bullying or hostile behavior is accepted.
  5. Conclude by stating that the goal of this unit is to examine our feelings about bullying AND about promoting respect in the classroom. Help students understand the place of bullying within the larger context of disrespectful behavior and name-calling.

Sample Chapter: Gossip, Cyber-Bullying and National Origin



Biracial (adj.) belonging to two different races

Cyber-bullying (n.) the practice of spreading nasty rumors or gossip about somebody through e-mail, the Internet, and cell phone or pager text messages

Ethnocentric (adj.) making views or judgments about the world, other cultures or ethnic groups based on standards or behaviors centered around one’s own culture or ethnic group

Middle East (n.) a region populated by different ethnic and religious groups that lies roughly where Africa, Europe and Asia

National origin (n.) the country of one’s birth or prior residence

Rumor (n.) information about someone that spreads and can be exaggerated, untrue or hurtful

Discussion Starters: THINK-PAIR-SHARE

Rumors, gossip, the way girls bully. How are rumors and gossip a type of bullying? Why is this kind of bullying so particularly painful? How do you stop a rumor or gossip? Brittany was really upset that her friends turned on her on the last day of school. Have you ever experienced friends turning on you without any warning? How did that make you feel? Did you try to find out why that happened? Have you ever turned on a friend suddenly? Why?

Race. Why do you think Brittany’s classmates made fun of her eyes and being half-Chinese or biracial? Why would somebody point this out about Asian-Americans?

Cyber-bullying. Brittany explained that students said mean things to her by e-mail. Have you ever experienced this? Why would students use e-mail in this way? What is so harmful about cyber-bullying?

Fear of standing up to bullying/being an ally. Nick talks about being afraid to step in and stop harassment while it is happening because he is afraid he will then be targeted. Joseph says it’s like “all of them versus me.” How many of you feel this way? What else can make someone reluctant to stand up for another person who is being targeted? How did Zaid act that was different? Why do you think he did this?

Bullying based on national origin, immigration status and against those who can’t speak English. Zaid talked about his friend coming to a new school and not speaking any English. How are students whose English is still developing treated here? How many of you have a parent, guardian or family member whose first language is not English? A grandparent? What do you think it would feel like not to be able to speak English or have an accent and feel that people are making fun of you? How could you defend yourself?

Possible Assignments and Activities With This Chapter

Activity #1: Think of a Time, p. 66

Assignment: Have students prepare a brief oral or written report on one of the following:

  1. What are examples of cyber-bullying (bullying through the Internet or other electronic means of communication) and how does cyber-bullying harm people?
  2. Interview someone you know who grew up in another country and ask him or her how it felt to be a newcomer to theUnited States, as well as what kinds of things would have made the transition to this country easier.



Today, millions of young people spend hours every day at their computers. Cyber-bullying involves the use of e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, personal websites or “blogs” (Web diaries) to spread nasty rumors, gossip or defamatory information about others. Cyber-bullying is devastating because it allows harassers to reach a wide audience while remaining anonymous and undetected.


Non-English-Speaking Households in the US

Nearly one in five (18.4 percent) children between the ages of 5 and 17, and about 47 million US residents total, speak a language other than English at home. (2000 US Census)

Activity #2: Concentric Circles

To familiarize students with young people in the film; to help students tie their personal experiences with the experiences of young people in the film; to begin to encourage students to find something in common with people from whom they feel distant.


30 minutes


Copies of handouts on p. 65 and pp. 113-117

  1. Pass out the handout with concentric circles on p. 65.
  2. Explain that you are going to hand out a chart with photographs of all of the students in Let’s Get Real. (See pp. 113-117.) The chart also contains each student’s name and a brief description of their experiences. Students are not to write on the chart because you need to collect them back at the end of the exercise.
    Note: Collecting charts promptly avoids the possibility that students will write derogatory comments or pictures on them.
  3. Ask students to write their name in the middle of the concentric circles and then to work silently on their own, writing the names of the students from the film in the following categories:
    • In the inner circle – Students from Let’s Get Real with whom they have the most in common
    • In the middle circle – Students from Let’s Get Real with whom they have a little in common
    • In the outer circle – Students from Let’s Get Real with whom they feel they don’t have very much in common
  4. When everyone is done, ask students to share which names they placed in each circle. You might ask follow-up questions such as: Why did you place each person where you did? What is it about that person that you related to or did not relate to? Do you see any similarities among the people who are in your inner circle, your middle circle or your outer circle, and if so, what do you learn from this?
  5. Have students think of one thing they have in common with at least three of the students in their outer circle. You might ask: Take a look at all the people you place in your outer circle. Is there anything about that person you did relate to? Write what you have in common next to their name.

Alignment With State Standards

The Respect For All Project curriculum is designed to meet state educational standards while also developing empathy, building respect, and promoting ally behavior. Our creative lessons can help educators teach math, reading, literature, writing, arts, and social studies while also ensuring a safe and welcoming environment. Below you can find general information about how our curriculum aligns with standards for several states. We also offer a more detailed alignment for California that illustrates how specific lessons align with statewide Health and English Language Arts standards.