Book Builders Middle School
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define the phrase <i>community/social capital</i> and discuss how it relates to all communities.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark MS.8 Identify and describe examples of community/social capital.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.

In an effort to make an awesome school year, students draft and share a simple book describing the strengths and needs at the school to challenge everyone to make the school great. They learn the importance of community/social capital by building positive experiences with students of different ages. The students publish the completed pattern book and share it with others.

PrintOne 50-Minute Session, plus time for a project

The learners will be able to:

  • evaluate the importance of character traits in making communities healthy and functional.  
  • create an original picture book that teaches others the importance of a particular character trait. 
  • copies of A SWOT Analysis graphic organizer (below)
  1. Anticipatory Set: 

    Show the Kid President “Awesome Year” video to introduce the concept of social capital (building good social feelings with others) and discuss things we can each do to make the school a better place.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQOcEDD5hR8


    • Why would we want to help others have an awesome year? How does it affect others? How does it affect me? How does it impact school culture?
    • Define social capital and relate it to the previous discussion. social capital: (n) "Personal investment of time through social interactions that builds trust and enables participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives" - Robert Putnam
    • Many positive actions build “social capital” in the school. With a high level of good will built up, it is easier to move on or forgive when something negative happens. (Similar to how a bank account with lots of capital isn’t set back when we need to make a minor withdrawal.)
  2. Give each student a SWOT Analysis handout to complete about the school and school community. They write words, descriptions, and examples for each quadrant. For example, they may write an opportunity is that the school is down the street from a retirment home where they can develop a relationship.  

    • S stands for STRENGTHS that the school has going for it -- what do you love about our school?
    • W stands for WEAKNESSES of the school -- what do you wish was better, or what are the needs?
    • O stands for OPPORTUNITIES for growth and improvement -- what assets do we have that will help us get better?
    • T stands for THREATS that jeopardize the school in some way -- what do we need to watch out for? 
  3. Discuss the SWOT analysis together and compile their ideas in one chart projected on the board. Group their ideas in meaningful ways. Facilitate a discussion about opportunities to make the school community better and address the weaknesses, or needs they identified.

  4. Give each student a copy of the character traits handout. Discuss what they mean and ask students to provide examples. Ask them to put the character traits in the SWOT analysis in the quadrants that best describe how integrated they are in the school community.

    Examples: If the student body has learned a lot about fairness, that falls under Strength. If there is a lot of bullying, lack of respect could be a Threat. An upcoming visit from a state representative might be an Opportunity to practice self-discipline. 

  5. Discuss the concept of developing a positive school community by practicing positive actions through character traits. Brainstorm and define/give examples of the traits that are important at your school across grade levels, such as caring, fairness, courage, perseverance, honesty, and abundance mindset.

    Discuss how practicing these character traits could help to build community/social capital with younger and older students and make a difference in the school culture.

  6. Brainstorm schoolwide traditions and practices already in place in which students interact with other students at different grade levels. This may inspire ideas of ways to expand existing practices to build social capital.

    Make a list of 25 things to do to “create community” across grade levels in the school(s).

  7. Have students create books where they portray the best school ever. In these books they will amplify the strengths, work to overcome the weaknesses, seize the opportunities, and mitigate threats. Have students use the vocabulary from their Character Education sheets in the book. Use story boards, paper booklets, or construction paper if you choose to have students make traditional books. 

  8. Service Project

    Students collaborate in groups to create a picture book with the message of taking actions to build community and an awesome school year. The final books are published on posters, with each poster a separate page. The students read (and act out) their story, set to music, at a school assembly. 


    • They create a giant size copy of their book on posters, present their books at a school assembly accompanied by music, and discuss the ideas presented. 
    • Final copies of the giant books can be displayed in the school hallway or other public area. 

An optional rubric is provided. This can be altered to include participation, an oral presentation grade, or what ever criteria you want to emphasize in this lesson.