Without a Home

6, 7, 8

Students discuss the word homeless and how it is used in a sentence (as adjective and noun). After reading an article about homelessness by Anna Quindlen, they discuss a respectful way to use the language that describes a group of people who are vulnerable.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • read and respond to an essay about homelessness by Anna Quindlen.
  • reflect on how our use of language can show respect for people.
  • homelessness: condition and social category of people without a regular house or dwelling because they cannot afford, do not desire, or are otherwise unable to maintain regular, safe, and adequate housing, or lack "fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence."
  • service: contribution to the welfare of others
  • philanthropy: giving time, talent and/or treasure and taking action for the common good

Exit ticket: Write a paragraph explaining your rational for which terminology is more respectful: "a person who is homeless" or "a homeless person"?



  1. Anticipatory Set: Write the word homeless on the board. Ask students what part of speech it is (for example: noun, verb, adjective) and have them support their choice. Listen to a few answers and discuss and compare. It isn’t necessary to come to a consensus as some will think it is an adjective and some will think it is a noun, and both answers can be correct. Tell them that theessay they are about to read will provide a perspective on this word. Distribute copies of "Homelessness" by Anna Quindlen (See Materials above).Read the essay aloud with the students or in small groups. Ask:

  2. Why might using the word homeless as a noun be insensitive or keep us from action?

  3. How do you think people become homeless?

  4. How do you think we should we react when we see a homeless person? (Ignore? Judge? Be friendly?) Why?

  5. What might be some appropriate acts? (Give money? Share food? Donate money or resources to a shelter?)

  6. In what way can we show respect for people who are vulnerable?

  7. What responsibility do we have for other people?

  8. What other groups have we turned into nouns or issues rather than people?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. 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. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.