My Personal Best

6, 7, 8

Students discuss what it means to do their personal best. They find, through a simple physical activity, that they can do a good job in something, but they still have more talent and drive to do better if they persevere. They recognize that perseverance can help them do their personal best.

PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • state the benefits of doing their personal best.
  • define perseverance and relate to personal best.
  • do their personal best to play a catch-and-throw game with a partner.
  • tennis balls (one for every two students, perhaps borrowed from the PE department) If tennis balls are not available, the students may make balls for the activity out of wadded up paper, but this is not ideal.


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Toss a tennis ball to a student a few feet away. After tossing the ball, act like you are really proud of your throw, as if it was your personal best throw. Say, "Wasn't that the best throw? I'm so proud of that. Did you see that?" If the students are laughing, ask them what is funny about that. Lead them to confirm that it isn't such an amazing feat for you.

  2. Ask, "How do you feel when you actually do your personal best [your best effort based on your ability and opportunity] on something? Why do you feel that way?"

  3. Tell the students to stand up and reach for the ceiling as high as they can. As they are reaching, say, "Now reach three inches farther." As students push themselves to reach higher, say, "I thought you were already reaching as high as you could. Where did you get the extra three inches?"

  4. Have the students sit down and respond to you about the following question. "What is the difference between doing a good job and doing your personal best?"

  5. Challenge the students to reflect on when they make the effort to do their personal best. Can they do their personal best in all areas? They may work hardest in sports, homework, being a good friend, or giving and serving in the community. Discuss what motivates them to do their personal best.

  6. Pair up students and give each team a tennis ball. Tell them they will start close together and toss the ball back and forth with their non-dominant hand without dropping it, each moving a step apart each time they catch and throw successfully. If they drop the ball, they must move close together and start over. Before they start, have them set a goal of how far apart they can get without dropping. (This may be easier in the hall or outside.) They may communicate to improve their strategy and encourage each other. Tell them to do their personal best.

  7. When students sit down again, ask them to define perseverance [sticking with something even when it is difficult]. Then ask the learners how perseverance is related to personal best. They may note that when throwing the ball, they made some mistakes at first, but they kept at it and got better and more careful the more they stuck with it.

  8. Discuss what makes perseverance a good character trait. Encourage them to share some examples of people who have persevered in sports and science. Ask, "How are their acts of perseverance good for society?

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 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and give examples of stewardship in cultural traditions around the world.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.