Best Day Ever!
Students look at how they typically spend a free day and see what that same free day would look like when it is infused with philanthropy. Students plan a free day, substituting their usual routine with activities that give back. They discuss the benefits and opportunity cost involved in sacrificing personal time for the common good of their community.
The learner will:
- complete a time budgeting sheet identifying activities for a typical non-school day.
- compare and contrast the value of “giving” time to community and “personal” time.
- define opportunity cost of acting for the common good.
- student copies of handout: A Typical Day Off, also in Google Docs
- read aloud copy of a book about generously giving, such as Miss Rumphius, Rainbow Weaver, One Plastic Bag, or Say Something
- download padlet for classroom discussion https://padlet.com/
Have students reflect back to the class about they day they spent doing philanthropic activities.
Read aloud one of these books: Miss Rumphius, Rainbow Weaver, One Plastic Bag, or Say Something (or a similar book about someone who gives their personal time for others).
Ask students to brainstorm how they typically spend their time on a day off from school. Record their answers on the overhead screen (or have the students enter them on the classroom Padlet).
On the handout, A Typical Day Off, students plan a free day by filling in typical or desired activities that they would choose to do. Be sure to stress that many activities do not run for exactly one hour but for the purpose of this lesson, activities will be in one hour increments. If something normally lasts more than an hour, students may block off two (or more) blocks for that activity. Give students about 10 minutes to fill in this chart.
Have students look over what they’ve entered on their handout and tell them to put an “A” for alone next to things they do individually. Have them put a “G” for group, next to activities that are completed with others. Ask them to pay attention to how much personal time they have vs. time spent with friends and family.
Review the definition of philanthropy: "giving of your time, talent or treasure for the common good." Have students put a star (*) next to any of their activities that involve selflessly giving on behalf of others.
Ask students to share with a partner (or on the Padlet) why someone would want to “give” time for the common good rather than just spend the time on themselves. Discuss:
- What are some characteristics and motivations of someone who helps the community? (add to Padlet or record on chart paper)
- How would you feel if you were required to delete an activity on your list to make time for “giving?”
- What activity would you be willing to give up? What activity might be hard to give up?
What are some generous acts you could spend an hour on? See handout of labels for kind acts that could cover up the typical day hours. What would be the value of giving time for the good of others?
Discuss the meaning of Opportunity cost: "the top opportunity given up when we make a decision." For example, the opportunity cost of choosing to play baseball after school may be less time on homework.
The opportunity cost of choosing to use an hour of one's time is the sacrifice of missing a typical activity. Whenever we make a choice, we give up an opportunity. That is the cost of our choices. When we choose to be philanthropic, we make sacrifices of our personal time. Students must decide that the value of giving is worth the personal cost.
At this point, the students may not understand the value and fun of giving their time for the common good. Discuss the benefits to themselves and the community of making personal sacrifices to the common good.
Brainstorm actions that use time or talent to help others in their community/neighborhood.
Ask: How would giving in this way make a positive impact on our community?
*If you’ve completed the Blue Sky Visioning Activity, you can remind students of ideas they had during that discussion that would make their world a better place to live. Activities to make that happen might be something they’d be willing to put time and energy into.
Break the class into four groups (you should have breakout rooms set up for this if you’re teaching virtually). Assign each group a different colored marker. The groups gallery walk around the posters (virtual rooms) with one of the questions below on each. In their groups they discus and answer the question (and read other groups' responses).
- What might motivate you to give your time, talent or treasure for the benefit of others?
- Is there a conflict between philanthropic acts and personal interest? Explain why or why not.
- Why is philanthropy important?
- Do middle schoolers have the power to change the world? How?
Give students about 3 minutes to discuss and record their answer at each poster (10 minutes if in breakout rooms). Encourage them to write something original and not just copy what a previous group has written. When groups are finished, rotate to the next poster/room. Repeat this process until each group has answered all four questions.
Share out what groups wrote on each of the posters. Note themes that come up with their answers. Guide the discussion toward the importance of giving back and how even little things that they do make them world changers.
Exit slip: Knowing what you now know about philanthropy, common good and opportunity cost, write a couple of sentences about something that you, personally, can do to make a positive difference in the world. (Enter this on the Padlet.)
Students may plan together to do a class service project. Or they may look at their personal Day Off list and do the giving act they agreed to do on their own.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
Benchmark MS.1 Examine several examples of philanthropic traditions practiced in diverse cultures.
Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
Benchmark MS.3 Give examples of <i>opportunity cost</i> related to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
Benchmark MS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.