Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Concepts of Leadership
Unit of 11 lessons

Unit Overview:

The thematic unit, Concepts Of Leadership, is designed to be integrated into the regular American History class over the period of an entire year culminating in a discussion and inquiry session which leads to a Service Learning experience for each student. At various times during the course of the regular American History class, the unit presents various "leaders" in chronological sequence and the events in which they were involved. Toward the end of April, these leaders will be presented again with the focus question: How does leadership develop in an individual to the point where he or she is willing to take private action for common good?

Unit Purpose:

This unit will enable students to identify the elements of decision-making that leaders have used throughout history and the challenges and rewards that they encountered as they committed themselves to taking private action for public good. Students will also understand the conflicts in society between economic and environmental interests and the role of the citizen in government.

Unit Objectives:

The students will:

  • identify at least one pivotal event, social contribution and personal quality that contributed to the proactive leadership demonstrated by those persons and documents studied.
  • be able to identify the turning point and to list the various steps in the pivotal decision-making process that each leader used in taking private action for the common good. (The number of steps may vary with the individual studied.)
  • list the specific core democratic values that helped guide each individual in their leadership role.
  • develop a personal plan for taking action for the public good.
  • list at least six examples of character and philanthropy in American History.
  • describe how at least one philanthropist contributed to historic events during the period of 1865 to the present.

Service Experience:

Although lessons in this unit contain service project examples, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.

Students will develop a personal action plan for taking private action for the public good.

Unit Assessment:

  • Test over specific chronological time periods and philanthropists from each period using the titles of the lessons for test questions

  • Student-generated self-analysis and detailed plan for making a contribution to their society

Notes for Teaching:

    American History focus questions with philanthropy emphasis added:

  • Unit One: Expansion, Sectionalism and Civil War
    How do the public and private sectors work together to address issues such as slavery, the unequal distribution of power and the preservation of democracy?

  • Unit Two: Post Civil War, Reconstruction, Gilded Age and Reform
    How do the public and private sectors differ in their approach in dealing with social problems such as poverty and the effects of industrial inequality? How do they work together to shape a civil society?

  • Unit Three: Foreign Policy, Imperialism, and World War One
    How did volunteer efforts such as missionaries, the Red Cross, the "Rough Riders," as well as the activities of those organizations promoting peace, contribute to the government's policies concerning imperialism and war?

  • Unit Four: Prosperity and Depression
    How did individual, group and government efforts contribute to overcoming the social and economic problems of the Twenties and the Depression?

  • Unit Five: Cold War and the Changing World Order
    How do the volunteerism efforts in a democracy compare with the government's efforts in a socialist or communist state in meeting the needs of all people?

  • Unit Six: Domestic Policies and Issues, Post World War Two and Civil Rights
    What impact can individual and group volunteers have on changing societal problems and the abuse of governmental power?

    Possible conclusions reached at the end of the unit:

  • Most leaders in our society were affected by a series of obstacles that made a strong difference in his/her life.

  • Each individual's leadership role was guided by a strong belief in the Core Democratic Values that made America.

  • A passion for a chosen occupation was the key to assuming his/her leadership position.

Classroom Procedures:
  • Writing: Various types of writing are an important component in any American History class.

    • Journals: Each student keeps a folder for the class syllabus, written papers, assignments, reading packets and other class papers. In addition, a theme paper is included for a series of various writing assignments.

    • Quick writes: At various times, students will be asked to write a quick, five-minute-or-less synopsis of what they have been studying, or their opinion on an issue. This activity is usually worth about five points and is graded for content only using the assignment criteria.

    • HST writes: Students are given a topic which requires them to follow the form required by the Michigan HST test. This activity is given a score of one to four following the criteria given in the test.

    • Gallery walk: Students work in groups of three to five and brainstorm ideas about the discussion topic. These ideas are placed on large sheets of butcher paper and the papers are hung up around the room. The class as a whole then "takes a walk" around the room, reviewing the ideas presented by each group, looking for similarities, common themes, and, depending on the topics, adding ideas to each page as they go. This activity illustrates the diversity of views in a short amount of time without requiring the discussion of all ideas.

  • Civil Discourse is one of the content standards of the Michigan Social Studies Curriculum. Classroom discussion is essential to any Social Studies course.

    • Modified Fishbowl technique: Group A will be in the inner circle and each participant will have a member from group B sitting directly behind him or her.

      Group A participants will be the only ones permitted to talk at this time. They begin discussion with the general focus question. The discussion is entirely student-directed and teacher participation is minimal.

      Group B members are each assigned to evaluate the person in front of them using the lesson-specific rubric. Group B members may pass notes for possible discussion topics to the person in front of them.

      Time allotted: 10 minutes per group; after the first 10 minutes, the groups switch.
      Note: The more practice students have with the discussion technique, the more capable they become at breaking down the subjects for themselves. During the first part of the semester, it may be necessary to add more leading discussion questions.

State Curriculum and Philanthropy Theme Frameworks:

See individual lessons for benchmark detail.

Lessons Developed By:

Kristine Grunwald
Williamston Community Schools
Williamston High School
3939 Vanneter Road
Williamston, MI 48895


Jean, League Teacher – Newark, NJ10/10/2007 5:30:50 PM

Excellent lesson and easy to teach. The students responded well and it fit with our 80 minute block.

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