Just-Us and Kindness: On Our Terms

Grades: 
6, 7, 8

Students will develop an understanding of fairness, justice, tolerance, and equality as critical key concepts necessary for a civil society. Students will discuss the importance of acting philanthropically to promote the common good. 

Lesson Rating 
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Duration 
PrintOne 45 minute class period
Objectives 

The learner will:

  • identify the terms fairness, justice, tolerance, human rights, equality, philanthropy and common good.
  • identify how fairness, justice, equality, and tolerance advance the common good.
  • describe how the above qualities promote civic virtue.
Materials 
  • Student copies of the handouts: On My Own Terms and Graphic Organizer of Term Relationships
  • Markers and chart paper (one per pair or small group)

Instructions

Print
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask, “What is fairness?” Allow a few moments of open-ended discussion. Pose a quiestion to provoke thinking (Have you ever had the experience of a parent or teacher showing favoritism or giving a greater share of something to one child over another? How did you feel? What did you do when you saw another student mistreated or not treated fairly on the bus or in your neighborhood?”

  2. Ask the students whether there is a difference between the concepts of fairness, justice, tolerance, and equality (write the terms on the board). Listen to a few responses.

    The students will work in small groups to discuss the difference between these terms. Distribute Handout: On My Terms. Have the students work in pairs or small groups to cut out and match the terms and definitions. The students will find that some definitions overlap, and this will generate some discussion. As students discuss and work for understanding, the teacher may take advantage of teachable moments to clear up confusion and listen for insightful comments for whole-group sharing. The handout On My Terms Answer Key is a guide to facilitate discussions. 

    • Ask the students to identify the definitions and share some of their observations of the relationships between these terms.
    • Tell the students that equality, tolerance, and justice are all parts of fairness.
    • Challenge the students to think of specific examples of equal treatment, tolerance, and justice at school. (Everybody is graded on the same scale, class periods are equal length, everyone has a chance to be heard and express opinions, different opinions and backgrounds are respected and celebrated, etc.)
  3. Tell students, “Working to promote these qualities shows respect for the rights of humans.” And ask, "What are some human rights that not all people in the world have access to?" (Student ideas may include fair pay for work, clean living situations, adequate food and clothing, clean water to drink, and freedom to express opinions.)

  4. Ask the students if they know any people in history who have volunteered their time to promote justice and human rights. (marchers, people who protest unequal treatment or abuse, Martin Luther King, Jr., Revolutionary War soldiers, abolitionists, suffragists). 

    Ask the students if they have a personal responsibility to work for fairness and human rights.

    Tell students to pull the two terms common good and philanthropy to the bottom of their desk. Ask them to think about the following question: “How is our community and world improved and strengthened when we work to promote fairness and equal rights?"

    Tell students their personal action supports the concept of civic virtue, which is "personal behavior that supports the success of the community."

  5. Pass out copies of the handout: Graphic Organizer of Term Relationships as a review. Tell the students that this graphic organizer shows the relationships between these concepts. All people have a right to fair treatment and a responsibility to treat others with fairness and respect human rights. We all have a role in promoting the common good through giving our time, talent, and treasure.

  6. Brainstorm acts of kindness, fairness, and justice the class can do. Encourage students to choose something they can do and write a statement telling what they plan to do in the next week, month, and year. Check in with students periodically over the next weeks to see how they are doing with their plan. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Define civic virtue.
  2. 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.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.