Essay of Definition - Part II

9, 10, 11, 12

Students write essays that define, explain, and clarify the meaning of the word philanthropy.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • write an outline for their essay of definition.
  • write a five-paragraph essay of definition that explains and clarifies the term philanthropy.
  • Student KWL (see handout from Lesson Four: Essay of Definition, Part I)
  • Five-Level Outline Template (handout)
  • Baskins, M. "Developing the Five Level Outline." Detroit, MI: Murray-Wright High School English Department, 1997.
  • Sebranek, P., V. Meyer, and D. Kemper. Writers Inc.: A Student Handbook for WRITING & LEARNING. Boston, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, 1996.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Let the students present their group KWL sheets to the class as the introduction to today's lesson.

  2. Inform the students that with the same ease that they completed the KWL sheets, they will now write an essay of definition based on that information.

    Keeping Lesson Four's groups intact, review the steps in developing a Five-Level Outline. Be sure that each group has an outline template and their completed KWL sheet.

  3. Stress the importance of developing solid thesis and organizational statements since they set the tone of the essay. Assist students as needed.

    Remind the groups that once they have completed the outline, they will be able to transfer it to the essay format with ease. 

    1. Does your definition match the class definition of philanthropy (private action for he public good)?
    2. Did you take ownership of your definition (you included one personal anecdote of philanthropic behavior to support your definition)?
    3. Did you use a philanthropic quotation from an authority (i.e., Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, Booker T. Washington) that supports your definition?
    4. Did you define philanthropy as a verb - the act of giving and serving?
    5. Did you describe how philanthropic actions work? (ex. Every time you do something as simple as take your elderly neighbor's garbage to the curb you have done a philanthropic act.)
  1. Does the thesis statement clearly identify the subject and main idea of the essay?
  2. Is your definition clearly supported in at least two ways?
  3. Have you included at least one specific example, anecdote or comparison?
  4. Is your writing organized logically?
  5. Did you describe the term's properties?
  6. Did you tell other facts about the term?
  7. Did you use a quotation from an authority?
  8. Did you tell how the term/concept works?
  9. Is your essay at least five paragraphs in length? 
  10. Is the conclusion effective?
  11. Few grammatical or spelling errors are evident in essay.
Cross Curriculum 

Contact your local radio station to see if your class can be a guest on their community news show. The class could read excerpts from their essays and answer listener's questions on what philanthropy is and is not. The aim of the show would be to encourage community members to commit an act of philanthropy.

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.