Teaching Tolerance Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to help you teach your students the important skill of tolerance. Students will watch an engaging video that defines the term, describes its function in the human brain, and explains types of tolerance. Students then apply concepts to a team-building activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'tolerance'
  • describe the relationships of tolerance and the human brain
  • explain the types of tolerance
  • discuss the importance of tolerance


1 hour

Key Vocabulary

  • Tolerance
  • Human behavior
  • Affordable Care Act
  • Social contract

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


  • Engage students with the topic by creating partner pairs and having them make a Venn diagram in their notebooks. Instruct them to put their names in the outside circles and 'Both' in the center section, then discuss themselves in order to find information to list on the diagram. For example, they'll have to find things that are unique about them, such as hair or eye color, and areas they have in common, such as playing sports or having siblings. Model a few examples if necessary.
  • After this activity, lead a class discussion about which was more challenging, finding things in common or things that were different.
  • Now tell students they will be learning about tolerance. Preview vocabulary and allow students to share prior knowledge, then start the lesson video What is Tolerance? - Definition, Types & Examples.
  • Pause at 00:48 and define terms, then ask:
    • How does tolerance shift our attitude towards others?
    • Why is the level of tolerance related to levels of happiness and contentment?
    • Which do you think is true: 'Are tolerant people more happy, or are happy people more tolerant?'
  • Have students write 'Tolerance' in their notebooks and ask them to reflect on their own tolerance levels. Give them time to journal and examine their tolerance levels, letting them know their thoughts will remain private, then resume the lesson.
  • Pause at 2:20 and discuss:
    • Why is tolerance an important part of our lives?
    • What types of feelings does intolerance bring up in yourself and others?
    • How does understanding how the brain works help empower you to be more tolerant?
  • Restart the video and pause again at 3:28. Instruct partners to brainstorm different types of intolerance, then share and list as a class. Categorize these examples into personal, community, state, national or international, then discuss the implications. Ask:
    • How does intolerance affect us personally? How does it affect the community, state, nation, or world?
    • How is a social contract a form of tolerance?
    • What is an example of social contracts we use in school, families, or other community?
  • Play the lesson summary, then allow students to look back on their journal entry from earlier. Ask them to write about how their intolerance makes them feel and brainstorm methods to overcome their bias.

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