Essay of Definition - Part I

9, 10, 11, 12

In this lesson, students work in groups to organize the information they have about philanthropy in preparation for the next session of writing an essay about philanthropy.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • internalize the meaning of philanthropy after reading a variety of definitions for the term.
  • organize details in order to generate text.
  • make Philanthropy Packs for younger students
  • Philanthropy Task Packs for each group (handout)
  • Student Notebooks
  • KWL Chart
  • Group Assessment Tool
  • Philanthropy Rubric for Group Assessment
  • Bentley, R. and L. Nissan. The Roots of Giving and Serving. Indianapolis, IN: The Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, 1996.
  • Sebranek, P., V. Meyer, and D. Kemper. Writers Inc. A Student Handbook for WRITING & LEARNING. Boston, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, 1996.
  • _______. "Philanthropy." Learning to Give Resource Book, 1997.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Review the definition of philanthropy with the students, including the concepts of giving time, talent, or treasure and advocacy and civil action. Ask them what it would be important for all citizens to know about philanthropy when they graduate from high school in order to be responsible citizens. 

  2. Divide the class into three small groups and provide each group with a Task Pack. Assign duties to group members: leader, reader, writer and reporter. Each Pack should contain a dictionary definition of philanthropy, the official class definition of philanthropy (see Lesson One: Philanthro What?), newspaper articles reporting on philanthropy, facts on philanthropy, and a quote from an authority on the subject. The KWL Chart also must be in the pack.

  3. Instruct the groups to read all the information in the task pack then organize that information on the KWL chart that is also in the task pack.

    List what you KNOW List what you WANT to know List what you LEARNED

  4. The groups will be using the KWL Chart to write an essay of definition tomorrow. The teacher should spend five to ten minutes as a member of each group to facilitate the discussions.


The role of the collaborating partners (the readers and reporters) in each group is to help the writers develop and elaborate on their writing plans. As you observe the groups do you hear questions similar to these: "What I hear you saying is that philanthropy is (e.g., giving). Am I hearing you right?"  "You just said that philanthropy is (e.g., helping). Tell me more about what you mean or what in the article made you say that?" "If the purpose of philanthropy is (e.g., helping the needy), how do the facts on philanthropy in the Task Pack show this goal?" "Can you find any other goal of philanthropy in the Task Pack?" 

Cross Curriculum 

Students who complete Philanthropy Packs could use them to teach a lesson on philanthropy to a kindergarten class at a neighborhood school or at the daycare. The kindergarten children can continue their dialogue on philanthropy by pledging to do one good deed a day. Children receive a Good Deed Ticket for telling the teacher why what they did was a good deed. These tickets should have no reward attached to them. High School students could make follow-up visits to take pictures of the young philanthropist and read picture books on philanthropy to them.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.