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

Can You Make a Difference?
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


In this lesson, students prepare a persuasive speech in which they demonstrate that one person (or small group) can make a difference in making the world a better place or taking action for the common good.


Three or Four Fifty-Minute Class Periods


The learner will:

  • respond to a brief anecdote about someone making a difference.
  • work alone or in a group to prepare a presentation.
  • make a presentation.
  • reflect in writing on several presentations and summarize the main ideas.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.




Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Read aloud the anecdote adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eisley.  This piece illustrates that one person can make a difference.  Go to http://www.lessonsforhope.org/student/Unit3/ca_activity1.asp

  • Discuss the students' responses to the story about the boy throwing the starfish back into the ocean because he could make a difference to "one."  Review the reasons that people take action for the common good (as discussed in Lesson One).  Discuss the students' feelings about their ability to make a difference in the world.  Guide the students to start thinking about simple ways they can share time, talent, or treasure to take action for the common good.

  • Tell the students that they will make a short speech about how an individual (or small group) can make a difference. Students may work alone or with a small group.  If they work in groups, each student must take an equal role in the group project. Students should present an oral speech and create and display a neat and appropriate visual aid.

  • Allow one or two class periods for students to prepare their speeches.

  • On the determined day, students present their speeches to the class.  Students should listen carefully to all the speeches and write a paragraph response to each presentation other than their own.  The response paragraphs should be labeled with the presenters' names.

  • At the end of all the presentations, students reflect in writing about whether an individual can "make a difference." The two-paragraph response should summarize the points made in the presentations.


  • Student presentations should have the following elements:
    • creative ideas and genuine response to the subject
    • all students in a group share responsibilities
    • neat and appropriate visual aid
    • presentations are coherent and audible
  • Journal entries should reflect an accurate description of the main ideas of the speeches.  The writing should demonstrate understanding of the ideas presented. 

School/Home Connection:


Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Use philanthropy as a topic for current-event study.  Ask students to peruse recent newspapers for articles demonstrating that individuals or groups can make a difference. 

Bibliographical References:


Philanthropy Framework:

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