Planting the Seeds of Our Values—Historical Examples

6, 7, 8

Using the historical content of World War II, students will have the opportunity for meaningful and reflective thought as they witness the telling of experiences by those who were directly and indirectly involved in the war. Students will also learn about the philanthropic actions of citizens, inspired by their democratic values, who acted for the common good. Ultimately, students will see that history was changed by the impact of this war.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • describe philanthropic action by a citizen during World War II, and explain how a Core Democratic Value was enhanced by the action.
  • interpret ways in which future history was affected as a result of citizens acting philanthropically for the common good during World War II.
  • Books and video The Greatest Generation videotape (see Bibliography)
  • VCR
  • A Lasting Legacy - A View from World War II (Attachment One)
  • World War II Role Play Scenarios (Attachment Two)
  • Role Play Assessment Recording Sheet (Attachment Three)
  • Brokaw, Tom. The Greatest Generation. Produced and directed by Craig Leake and Andrea Malin. 50 min. National Broadcasting Company, 1999. Videocassette. ASIN: 0767015991
  • Brokaw, Tom. The Greatest Generation. New York: Random House, 1998. ISBN: 0375502025
  • Whitman, Sylvia. V is for Victory. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1993. ISBN: 0822517272


  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask students to reflect upon and share the impact that an important person made in their lives. Ask them to describe the influencing action and why it made such a powerful impact.

  2. Explain to students that the purpose of this lesson is to use the acquired understanding of the Core Democratic Values and how young people in history have "planted the seeds" (Core Democratic Values) to maintain our democracy. Use the anticipatory set discussion to lead into the examination of citizens involved in World War II and how their actions, in history, made a powerful impact in maintaining our democracy, as well.

  3. Ask students if they know of anyone who lived during World War II and was involved here on the home front or directly involved in the war abroad. Invite them to share what they know and have learned from or about those people and times.

  4. Provide each student with a copy of A Lasting Legacy - A View from World War II (Attachment One). Read through the statement or question in each square and make any clarifications necessary for student understanding. Show the video The Greatest Generation to students. After the first biography, record what was learned onto Attachment One as an example. Enlist student involvement to complete the information. This will be a model to students.

  5. Independently, students will gather information about an individual after watching several other biographies on tape, or after having read about individuals in the book, The Greatest Generation. You may have students engage in this activity in a variety of formats depending on time constraints as well as access to materials.


Students will work in small groups to conduct a role play. Each group will be given a scenario slip from World War II Role Play Scenarios (Attachment Two) to act out. These scenarios are derived from the book V is for Victory (see Bibliography). Some or all of the scenarios may require some direct teaching of background information for understanding depending on how familiar students are with World War II. The group will need to decide which Core Democratic Value is involved and whether the scenario shows the value being enhanced or violated. Once each group presents their role play to the class, the whole group will be asked which Core Democratic Value is being shown and whether the role play shows the value being enhanced or violated. As students are discussing and planning their role play, each group will record pertinent information on Role Play Assessment Recording Sheet (Attachment Three) to demonstrate learning as well as for the teacher to assist in the role play planning and presentation. The following is teacher information: Scenario 1: Individual Rights (violated) Scenario 2: Common Good (enhanced) Scenario 3: Truth (violated) Scenario 4: Individual Rights (violated) Scenario 5: Equality (enhanced) Scenario 6: Patriotism (enhanced)

Philanthropy Framework

  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 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.
  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.6 Identify and explain how fundamental democratic principles relate to philanthropic activities.