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Critical Thinking Activities: Who is Invisible? ⭐ Back to School Learning Skills

Grade Levels
6th - 12th, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschool, Staff
Formats Included
  • Zip
88 slides

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High interest, easy prep, back to school activity!

Perfect for introducing:

  • Critical Thinking,

  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Stereotypes.

Watch short YouTube videos (provided).

Lead class discussions to see which groups of people are invisible or portrayed in stereotypical ways.

OPTIONAL EXTENSION: Students can research and create an alternative script to amplify the stories that we don't often hear.

  • Distance Learning friendly: You can edit the Microsoft Powerpoint™ and Google Slides™ files (included in the zipped file.)

  • Detailed lesson plan provided.

  • Answer key NOT provided. Answers will vary based on people's aspects of identity and their lived experiences.

Who is Invisible CONTEST: $500 in TpT Gift Cards -

NOTE: The first edition of this contest ended in March 2021.

I will run this contest again sometime in the 2021-2022 school year.

  • If you would like to be notified when I run this contest again, please sign up for the Educircles email newsletter here.
  • People who won in the past can enter again (but of course, they need to teach the lesson to a new class of students.)

Here are the winners from March 2021:

  1. $100 gift card: Kati (Glasgow, Kentucky, US)
  2. $50 gift card: Emily (Ceredigion, UK)
  3. $50 gift card: Sara (Minnetonka, Minnesota, US)
  4. $25 gift card: not enough participation
  5. $25 gift card: not enough participation
  6. $25 gift card: not enough participation
  7. $25 gift card: not enough participation
  8. $25 gift card: not enough participation
  9. $25 gift card: not enough participation
  10. $25 gift card: not enough participation
  11. $25 gift card: not enough participation
  12. $10 gift card: not enough participation
  13. $10 gift card: not enough participation
  14. $10 gift card: not enough participation
  15. $10 gift card: not enough participation
  16. $10 gift card: not enough participation
  17. $10 gift card: not enough participation
  18. $10 gift card: not enough participation
  19. $10 gift card: not enough participation
  20. $10 gift card: not enough participation
  21. $10 gift card: not enough participation


I'm giving away TpT gift cards totaling $500 to teachers who

  1. Teach this FREE lesson
  2. Fill out the contest entry form.



This product does NOT specifically mention the contributions (past or present) of any specific groups of people.

There are no specific examples relating to Black History Month, Women's History Month, Irish-American Heritage Month, Deaf History Month, Asian Heritage month, Older Americans Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, Gay Lesbian Pride Month, Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month, Disability Employment Awareness Month, Italian-American Heritage Month, or American Indian Heritage Month.

And, that's a good thing because it means you can use this lesson package any time.

The point of this lesson is to raise awareness that some groups of people are more visible than others. And some groups of people can be portrayed in stereotypical ways: the danger of a single story.

This lesson is a great way to start off your Asian Heritage Month, Asian Pacific Heritage Month, Black History Month, Women's History Month, or any social justice issue because it gives students a chance to explore their world before going deeper with other resources.

I know what you're thinking when you skim through these 20 goal setting videos.

This doesn't have very much to do with "Black History Month" or any other "month"? I want you to give me specific examples of contributions from those groups of people, past and present!

Okay. I agree, 100%. We do need to give our students those examples and amplify the stories we don't often hear.

But, we also need to give our students an opportunity to notice these subtle inequities themselves. We need to give them a chance to understand why this matters.

And, that's what the Who is Invisible challenge is all about.

Yes, we see some people who are Black, Asian, female, etc... in the videos.


I actually tried to make sure I had a balance of people from different groups represented in the images I chose. But, take a closer look at the little stories told at the beginning of each video.

Whose accomplishments do we hear about?

  • Steve Jobs?
  • Alexander Fleming?

Are there any subtle patterns?

That's the hard part of the challenge that requires the most critical thinking. Good luck!

Bonus critical thinking question: Scroll down to the Q&A section of this product description where I talk about the contributions of Adam Grant. Do you agree with my choices? Was this an appropriate way to amplify the voices of stories we don't often hear?


This slideshow lesson does NOT provide any assignment specifics (handouts, rubrics, worksheets, etc) to do the actual Who is Invisible challenge. That's so that every teacher can do the challenge in a way that is meaningful to them.

The slideshow lesson DOES provide everything you need to understand the theory and the challenge.

This is intended to be an authentic, meaningful, open-ended 21st Century Learning task for classes to engage with - where problems and solutions aren't always handed to us on a silver platter.

The power of this challenge is 

  • to give students an opportunity to think about themselves 
  • to give them some background theory and common vocabulary about stereotypes (single stories) 
  • before asking students to analyze and evaluate which groups of people might be invisible
  • and creating an alternative version to help amplify the stories and contributions that we don't always see.

By thinking about who they are, hopefully students will own this task and look for groups of people that are meaningful to them. 

  • That might be race, gender, age, social economic class, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, culture, appearance, nationality, etc. 
  • None of these words have been used in the slideshow and that is by design.

There are many ways to do this challenge. Suggestions are included in the lesson plan (PART 6).

The hope is that students will then start to use the skills from this challenge to wonder about equities and inequities in other parts of their world.


Timing for this 2.5 hour slideshow (160 min) only includes the slideshow lesson.

Individual teachers need to decide how they want their students to do a Who is Invisible challenge.

INTRODUCTION (What does invisible mean) - 30 min

  • What does Invisible mean? (slides 1-3) (5 min)
  • Literal example of invisible (slides 4-5) (5 min)
  • Figurative example of invisible (slides 6-7) (5 min)
  • What does it mean when we say groups of people are invisible (slides 8) (5 min)
  • Ground Rules - Discussion (slides 9-13) (5 min)
  • Ground Rules - Personal Identity (slides 14-17) (5 min)

PART 1 Do you SEE people who look like you? 10 min

  • Watch the following video clip (slides 18-20) (5 min)
  • Discussion (slides 21-22) (5 min)

PART 2 Are people who look like you represented? 30 min

  • Identify different parts of videos (slides 23-37) (10 min)
  • Watch the next video clip (slides 38-40) (10 min)
  • Discussion (slides 41-44) (10 min)

PART 3 Stories matter 30 min

  • What is a single-story? (slides 45-48) (10 min)
  • Strategy to help students identify single stories and stereotypes? (slides 49-50) (5 min)
  • Watch the next goal-setting video (slides 51-52) (5 min)
  • Discussion (slides 53) (10 min)

PART 4 Why does representation matter? 10 min

  • We all have many different sides to our identity (slides 54-55)
  • What if you DON’T see yourself reflected in resources (slides 56)
  • What if you DO see yourself reflected in resources (slides 57-60)

PART 5 I am a biased imperfect human being 20 min

  • Setting up an authentic, meaningful task (slides 61-68) (10 min)
  • Things to know about me and my Aspects of Identity (slides 69-72) (10 min)

PART 6 Take the challenge (explanation) 20 min

  • Different ways to do the Who is Invisible challenge? (slides 73)
  • Explain the challenge (slides 74-79) (20 min)

PART 7 Go beyond heroes and holidays 10 min

  • How can you use these skills to explore other parts of life? (slides 80-88)

..... Friday July 30, 2021 update: Congratulations to A (Guam, US) who just won a $25 TpT gift card !!

Watch the ▶️ LIVE STREAM VIDEO to see how they won!

Also, here's a FREE 10 page critical thinking independent worksheet package.

This video shows you ▶️ HOW EASY it is to get my Educircles Google Drive products:

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


A. Earlier this month, I gave away $150 in my first Did I Cheat contest! (▶️ VIDEO)

B. The next 5 teachers to answer 3 easy questions will win a $10 TpT gift card!

  • Question #1 - Where do you teach?
  • Question #2 - What do you teach?
  • Question #3 - is sent to your TpT inbox

This round of questions was sent on July 29, 2021

Congratulations to the following teachers who answered the questions in time and won a $5 TpT gift card:

  1. Gift cards will be sent out on Tue Aug 3, 2021
  2. Gift cards will be sent out on Tue Aug 3, 2021
  3. Gift cards will be sent out on Tue Aug 3, 2021
  4. Gift cards will be sent out on Tue Aug 3, 2021
  5. Gift cards will be sent out on Tue Aug 3, 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Teachers around the world have DOWNLOADED over 30,331 Educircles resources!

(check out this interactive map - it shows you the cities where teachers have purchased an Educircles resource.)

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐



  1. Build CHARACTER: develop resilience during uncertain times.
  2. Classroom CITIZENSHIP: actively participate in our school, local and global community.
  3. COLLABORATION group work: just because you're working in a group doesn't mean you're working well.
  4. COMMUNICATE more effectively AND assertively during tough conversations
  5. CREATE new ideas for assignments or find creative ways to solve problems.
  6. Think CRITICALLY instead of reacting to fear, viral videos, or fake news.

Save hours of prep (and MONEY) with the bundle!

Why am I so passionate about 21st Century Learning? Because it helped save my life. (▶️ video)

QUESTION: You talk the talk, but do you walk the walk? How are you amplifying voices, yourself?

Q: You talk a lot about amplifying the voices of stories that we don't hear very often. How are you amplifying these voices yourself as the creator of SEOT Steps to Success videos?

A: Great question. Amplify means to increase the volume of something - usually sound. I am a teacher who now earns a living from the internet, so when I think "amplify", I think of increasing attention, awareness or web traffic to something.

One of the things I've realized is I can link to some of my research sources when I make the goal setting videos. For example, in this video about the Creative Process, I talk about Taylor Swift's process of writing ideas down. At the bottom of that post, you can see I've embedded a YouTube video of her talking.

Now, obviously, in no way am I amplifying the voice of Taylor Swift. She reaches millions of people on her own. I am a speck of dust in terms of reach compared to her. But, there are other stories that I could amplify and that's what I'm hoping to do in my next set of goal setting videos. And as more teachers start to use these Educircles and SEOT resources, our reach goes across more classrooms and more students.

In January 2021, I reached a personal milestone: Educircles resources have been downloaded over 25,000 times by educators around the world. I like to think this means I have the potential of amplifying underheard stories to students around the world.

To give you a more concrete example - I first heard about how mild procrastination can help the creative process in Adam Grant's TED talk on the surprising habits of original thinkers. He talks about his grad student Jihae who said she has her best ideas when she procrastinates. I did some research on the internet and was able to figure out where Jihae teaches and some of her research publications (that she did with Adam.)

When I wrote the script for the Procrastinate with Purpose goal setting video, I decided to tell it from Jihae's point of view to amplify the contributions of a specific group of people. Unfortunately, Jihae doesn't have a YouTube video that students might find interesting, so I could only link to her research. But, you get the idea.

When I get bigger, I'd love to collaborate with other people who are different from me - but right now, I'm a one-person operation trying to stay afloat!

Baby steps. I'm doing my own research to find stories from groups of people that are under-represented. I'm also trying to crowd-source this information by running the $500 Who is Invisible contest.

I'm an imperfect human being. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, feedback - feel free to ask below or you can reach me directly at Mike@educircles.org

Total Pages
88 slides
Answer Key
Not Included
Teaching Duration
3 hours
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