PrintThree Forty-Five Minute Class Periods.

The learner will:

  • define the roles of various volunteers during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
  • plan and execute a volunteer effort within the community.
  • Internet access and a printer
  • copies of Brief Biographies (one bio per group)
  • large printout of Core Democratic Values (handout)
  • student copies of It Can Be Done (handout)
  • student copies of Volunteer Responsibilities (handout)
Home Connection 

Permission slip for student participation in the volunteer project.

  • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary Black Americans: From Colonial to Contemporary Times. Chicago: Children's Press, 1989. ISBN0-516-00581-2
  • Boston African American National Historic Site https://www.nps.gov/boaf/index.htm
  • Fugate, Sandy. For the Benefit of All: A History of Philanthropy in Michigan. Battle Creek: W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 1997. ISBN 1-891445-00-6
  • Philanthropy Timeline /resources/philanthropy-timeline 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell the class that you will lead a cheer in which they repeat the letters. Ask for a volunteer to keep track of the letters on the board or chart paper as you lead the cheer. Say, give me a "V." Continue until you have spelled "volunteer." At the end of the cheer, say, "What does it spell?" Wait for the correct response. Clap and cheer together.

  2. Ask, "What is a volunteer?" (one who performs a service or good work for others without pay)

  3. Tell the students they will read one of the biographies on the Brief Biographies handout, looking for examples of volunteering, Core Democratic Values, and the impact of their work.

    Preview the Core Democratic Values handout together for a couple minutes to make sure all students are familiar with them.

  4. Distribute the Brief Biography handout to students. Assign one reading to each team. Tell students to identify the volunteer action, the impact, and the Core Democratic Value of their assigned individual from their biorgraphy, highlighting and taking notes on the sheet. Allow ten minutes for reading and preparing to present to the rest of the class.

  5. Reconvene students for brief group presentations on the individuals. The presentations should focus on the volunteer action, who benefited, and the Core Democratic Value that was emphasized.

  6. In a summary discussion, have students the impact and importance of "volunteers" during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

  7. Day Two:

    Discuss whether youth have a responsibility to act in the voluntary sector to improve the common good. Encourage them to give examples of what young people can do.

  8. Using It Can Be Done (handout), the class determines for what type of organizations they would like to volunteer.

    They look at the website and contact the organization to learn more about volunteering their services. They may ask the following:

    • What type of jobs can be done?
    • What are the responsibilities of the jobs?
    • Who will be the contact person?
    • What is the address of the organization?
    • How will it benefit the organization and which members of our community will ultimately benefit?

    Tell students that they are going to present their gathered information to the class the next time you meet. The balance of the class period should be used for this assignment. If the work is not finished, they complete the assignment as homework.

  9. Day Three:

    • Explain to the students that they should pay close attention to the presentations because they will be voting later to select an organization for which to volunteer as a class.
    • Students present what they learned about the community organization they investigated.
    • After all of the students have presented, take a vote on which organization the class would like to volunteer to support.
  10. Discuss the results of the vote and why it is a good organization for the class to choose. Talk about the importance of choice in volunteering.

    Divide them into groups of three or four to brainstorm about the jobs and responsibilities that are required to make this volunteer effort work. They complete the handout Volunteer Responsibilities cooperatively for 20-30 minutes. At the end of this time, ask for three volunteers to contact the organization.

  11. Present the studentproject to your administrator and then prepare a letter for parents/guardians to gain permission for the students to take part.


Students should assess their volunteer activity once the project is completed. It Can Be Done is to be used as the lesson assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

After completing a survey to determine interests and making arrangements with a local nonprofit organization, students will provide volunteer service as arranged.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.10 Give historic and contemporary examples of a voluntary action by an individual or a private organization that has helped to enhance a fundamental democratic principle.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.