- Be able to describe contemporary heroes who stand up for what they believe in.
- Consider the relationship between activism in the broader world and in their own lives.
- What are some characteristics of people who have made or are making a difference in their communities?
- What factors make it difficult to act on bravery and principles?
- What does it mean to make a difference in your community?
- Pens or pencils
- Classroom board or chart paper
- Handout: Profile of an American Hero (Grades 3-5, 6-8)
- Chart: People Who Are Making a Difference (Grades 3-5, 6-8)
- Computers with Internet access or photocopied handouts taken from CNN.com’s CNN Heroes—Everyday People Changing the World
This is the second lesson of the series “Dealing with Dilemmas: Upstanders, Bystanders and Whistle-Blowers.” This lesson helps students identify and recognize modern-day American heroes—people who have made or are making a real difference in their communities. Students will research and learn how local movements become national ones through the activism and perseverance of upstanding individuals. The goal is to encourage activism and awareness and enable students to think about what they, as individuals, can do to make a difference in their own community.
Not all acts of heroism need to have a global effect to be defined as brave or courageous. There are many people who, in a variety of ways, have taken up causes in their daily lives. Their efforts show how simply getting involved can open doors to bigger projects involving human rights or rescue opportunities.
change agent (CHEYNDJ
(noun) Someone who works toward change or helps make change happen.
(noun) A person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities.
role model (ROL
(noun) A person someone can look up to, admire or try to be more like.
- As a warm-up activity, have students discuss the following question with a partner: If you had a superpower that you could use for good, what power would it be, and why? Allow the students a few minutes to share their thoughts. Regroup and ask a few students to share their responses with the class. Chart responses, making note of key descriptors. Then ask students what makes a hero different from a superhero. Chart responses, focusing on words that describe a hero’s qualities.
- Explain to students that while there are many types of heroes, this lesson will introduce them to everyday people who are currently engaging in work that others have deemed heroic. Students will research and take notes about individuals who are making a difference.
- Before class, review the nine profiles listed above from CNN.com’s CNN Heroes—Everyday People Changing the World. Add additional profiles to the list, if desired.
- Students will then break up into groups of no more than five and take turns discussing their heroes and their respective projects. If needed, students may refer back to the hero profiles.
- After the discussion, instruct students to complete the Profile of an American Hero handout (Grades 3-5, 6-8), using specific information from the reading. Help students compile their data onto the larger class chart entitled People Who Are Making a Difference (Grades 3-5, 6-8).
Grades 3-5 Select two profiles for each of your students, keeping in mind the student’s interests and reading level. (Provide hard copies of the profiles if students do not have Internet access.) Allow the students 10-15 minutes to read through both profiles and select one to use later when completing their handout.
Grades 6-8 If students have Internet access, give them 10-15 minutes to browse the profiles of the nine heroes listed above. Then ask students to select one person’s profile to read in full. They will use this person later when completing their handout.
Activities and embedded assessments address the following standards from Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
CCSS: RL.3.1, RL.3.2, RL.3.3, RL.3.4, RL.3.5, RL.3.6, RL.4.1, RL.4.2, RL.4.3, RL.4.4, RL.4.5, RL.4.6 RL.5.1, RL.5.2, RI.5.3, RL.5.4, RL.5.5, RL.5.6, RL.6.1, RL.6.2, RL.6.3, RL.6.7, RL.6.9, RL.7.1, RL.7.2, RL.7.3, RL.7.7, RL.7.9, RL.8.1, RL.8.2, RL.8.3, RL.8.7, RL.8.9, RI.3.1, RI.3.2, RI.3.3, RI.3.5, RI.3.7, RI.3.8, RI.3.9, RI.4.1, RI.4.2, RI.4.3, RI.4.5, RI.4.7, RI.4.8, RI.4.9, RI.5.1, RI.5.2, RI.5.3, RI.5.5, RI.5.7, RI.5.8, RI.5.9, RI.6.1, RI.6.2, RI.6.3, RI.6.4, RI.6.7, RI.6.9, RI.7.1, RI.7.2, RI.7.3, RI.7.4, RI.7.7, RI.7.9, RI.8.1, RI.8.2, RI.8.3, RI.8.4, RI.8.7, RI.8.9, W.3.1, W.3.2, W.3.4, W.3.7, W.3.8, W.3.10, W.4.1, W.4.2, W.4.4, W.4.7, W.4.8, W.4.10, W.5.1, W.5.2, W.5.4, W.5.7, W.5.8, W.5.10, W.6.2, W.6.4, W.6.6, W.6.7, W.6.8, W.6.9, W.7.2, W.7.4, W.7.6, W.7.7, W.7.8, W.7.9, W.8.2, W.8.4, W.8.6, W.8.7, W.8.8, W.8.9, SL.3.1, SL.3.2, SL.3.3, SL.3.4, SL.3.5, SL.4.1, SL.4.2, SL.4.3, SL.4.4, SL.4.5, SL.5.1, SL.5.2, SL.5.3, SL.5.4, SL.5.5, SL.6.1, SL.6.2, SL.6.3, SL.6.4, SL.6.5, SL.6.6, SL.7.1, SL.7.2, SL.7.3, SL.7.4, SL.7.5, SL.7.6, SL.8.1, SL.8.2, SL.8.3, SL.8.4, SL.8.5, SL.8.6, L.3.1, L.3.2, L.3.3, L.4.1, L.4.2, L.4.3, L.5.1, L.5.2, L.5.3 L.6.1, L.6.2, L.6.3, L.6.4, L.6.6, L.7.1, L.7.2, L.7.3, L.7.4, L.7.6, L.8.1, L.8.2, L.8.3, L.8.4, L.8.6, RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.6, RH.6-8.8, WHST.6-8.2, WHST.6-8.4, WHST.6-8.5, WHST.6-8.6, WHST.6-8.8, WHST.6-8.9, WHST.6-8.10
Ask the students to share the three adjectives they used to describe their heroes. Chart the responses under the heading “Qualities of a Hero.” Display the finished chart in a visible area of the room.