9, 10, 11, 12

Students use writing skills and critical thinking to write a poem about a philanthropist.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • write a bio-poem.
  • identify the characteristics of a philanthropist.
  • Poem template, one large size for classroom display, individual copies for each student for the homework assignment
  • Bio-Poem Note Cards (created from the rules for each line of the handout), enlarged for classroom use
Home Connection 

For homework, have students research one philanthropist from the list generated in this lesson. Write a bio-poem about the philanthropist.

  • Sebranek, P., V. Meyer, and D. Kemper. Writers Inc.: A Student Handbook for WRITING & LEARNING. Boston, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, 1996.
  • "Turner Hopes 'Joy of Giving is Contagious,'" CNN Interactive, 19 Sept. 1997.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask the students if they know the meaning of the word philanthropist. (If needed, help the students define philanthropist as someone who gives time, talent and/or treasure for the common good, and/or private volunteery action for the common good). Read the attached bio-poem about a philanthropist. Now ask the class if they think of themselves as philanthropist. For those who are still unsure, tell them that if they have ever given money in church for the poor or volunteered to rake an elderly neighbor's yard then they, too, are philanthropists.

  2. State that most philanthropists are not rich; however, the contributions of the rich are often the most written about.

    Brainstorm a list of local and global philanthropists with the students.

  3. Display the poem template (handout). Tell the class that they will write a bio-poem about a famous philanthropist.

    Remind the class that a bio-poem's purpose is to describe a person. When writing a bio-poem, you must select precise language to fit the form.

  4. Display the Bio Poem Note Cards (from the handout). Call on students to complete each line of the poem by selecting a card. (The note cards are marked to indicate the line of the poem in which it belongs.) Select a student to read the finished poem aloud.

    Read a biographical sketch about the philanthropist to the class to show how their bio-poem identifies the philanthropist.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.