A Good Story

Grades: 
9, 10, 11, 12

Students view and discuss the DVD The Gift of All: a Community of Givers and identify the influences and attributes of the generous people interviewed. Students read, summarize, and report on short biographies of philanthropists. Students write journal reflections and create a four-slide presentation with software such as PowerPoint or Keynote.

 

Duration 
PrintTwo 50-minute lessons
Objectives 

The learner will:

  • discuss attributes of different generations.
  • define philanthropy and give examples.
  • view and discuss the first half of the 40-minute documentary The Gift of All: a Community of Givers (See Bibliographical References).
  • write journal entries that compare the experiences and values of the featured philanthropists to learner's own experiences and values.
  • read a biography and create a four-slide presentation to show to the class.
  • reflect on the attributes of a generation of philanthropists.
Materials 
  • DVD copy or streaming video of The Gift of All: a Community of Givers, produced by The S.O.U.L. (Sharing Our Uncommon Legacy) of Philanthropy
  • Internet access or a printout of descriptions of the generations (see Bibliographical References)
  • Student copies of Handout One: Journal Prompts
  • Student copies of Handout Two: Philanthropist Biography
  • computers or projector to view student biography presentations
Home Connection 

For homework, the students read a two-page biography and make a presentation (using software such as PowerPoint or Keynote) to share with the class the next class period. The presentations should include name and brief background, brief description of his/her profession, a bulleted list of contributions to the community, and a significant or unique trait or event. The presentation should be attractive, concise, and include four slides (graphics and pictures are optional). Students should bring the briefing paper and the presentation to school the next class period. Copy Handout Two: Philanthropist Biography and attach to each student's briefing paper.

Bibliography 

The Gift of All: a Community of Givers, produced by The S.O.U.L. of Philanthropy along with The Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Calvin College. Copyright © Grand Rapids Public Library, City of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2008, 2009.

The Library of Congress. "The Great Depression: Primary Source Sets." http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/themes/great-depression/set.html 

National Archives. "The Great Depression and W.W.II" https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/depression-wwii.html

Wikipedia. List of Generations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generations

Instructions

Print
  1. Day One

    Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students to raise their hands if they have heard of "Generation Y" or the "Millennium Generation." Ask the students who are familiar with this to name some traits of their generation (socially oriented, civic minded, technology savvy, etc.).

  2. Show the students a chart describing the different generations. There is a list of generation names, years, and descriptions at Wikipedia. Discuss how generation studies use historic events, popular culture, and polls to make generalizations about people born in certain years. The descriptors don't fit everyone in the generation, but can show trends.

  3. Show the DVD jacket or webpage for the movie The Gift of All: a Community of Givers. Say, "In 2004, West Michigan was recognized as the second most generous region in the country." Tell the students that most of the featured philanthropists are from the same generation (all between the ages of 70 and 90 when interviewed). The documentary explores the historic events and cultural influences that led this generation of people to become generous givers concerned with rebuilding their community.

  4. Define philanthropy as "giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good." Discuss examples of giving time, talent, and treasure. (Examples: Giving time includes helping a neighbor take care of a garden. Giving talent includes tutoring someone in math. Giving treasure may include giving money or a possession that is valuable.) Discuss acts of philanthropy the students have participated in this year.

  5. Give the students a little background about The Great Depression. (Teacher Note: See Bibliographical References.) They should know in advance that the 1930s were a time of a depressed economy when many people did not have jobs and had lost their invested money. The adults interviewed in this documentary were children during this time and saw and felt daily hardship.

  6. Ask the students whether they would share their resources more or less when times are tough and money is scarce. Discuss their responses. Many students will think people share less when they have less to share, but some students may recognize that when the need is higher, people tend to work together to help each other more. Tell them you are going to show them the first part of the film. Have them listen for stories about people sharing and giving during the depression. Ask them to be prepared to recall some of the stories from the film of sharing in a time when resources were scarce.

  7. Show the documentary from the beginning to 19:00. Stop the movie (after Casey Wondergem) to discuss the stories and comments of these individuals. Notice that the documentary does not focus on their achievements but their character and their influences. The narrator challenged viewers to look for what causes people to do what they do--to look at their core values, parents, their learning environment, and the major events of their lifetimes. Tell the students that each of these people contributed to their community in a big way. (They'll read biographies of the individuals later.) Ask the students to recall some of the stories in the film that hint at why these people would be big givers as adults. (Teacher Note: Stories from the film to recall: two sides of the quarter, giving milk to poor people, making gloves last, using stones for heat, going barefoot to save shoes for Sunday, unemployment, community coming together to share, employer sharing any profits evenly, collecting what people can pay for rent, love in the neighborhood, war, concentration camp)

  8. Brainstorm words that describe the character traits of these people (responsible, fair, frugal, resourceful, hardworking, and compassionate). Ask the students if they can identify what makes this generation unique. Ask, "Is there any evidence that West Michigan is unique from other communities?"

  9. Have the students evaluate through journaling their own influences and traits that may also characterize their generation. Help the students get started by brainstorming as a class some political and cultural events and technology advances that occurred in their childhood and adolescence. Have them write personal reflections on the following topics: How do you think the technology and political and cultural events of your life set your generation apart from people of other generations? What values did your parents and extended family (and faith-based instruction) teach you? Describe your environment and free-time activities. Describe a time when you (or a family member) helped someone. See Handout One: Journal Prompts for a list of these and further journal prompts. Tell the students that someday future generations will look back at them to analyze why they became who they did.

  10. Give each student one briefing paper to read. The briefing papers are available at /professional-development/white-papers and give background information about the people and places mentioned in the video. For homework, the students read their biography and make a presentation (using software such as PowerPoint or Keynote) to share with the class the next class period. The presentations should include name and brief background, brief description of his/her profession, a bulleted list of contributions to the community, and a significant or unique trait or event. The presentation should be attractive, concise, and include four slides (graphics and pictures are optional). Students should bring the briefing paper and the presentation to school the next class period. Copy Handout Two: Philanthropist Biography and attach to each student's briefing paper.

  11. Day Two

    Anticipatory Set:

    Say to the students, "Recall what you wrote in yesterday's journal entry about the traits and experiences that make up who you are. How do you think technology, politics, and cultural issues influence your generation? What do you think people will say about your generation in 40 years?" Discuss these major influences and ask if any of these events are likely to promote civic engagement or lead them (or their generation) to take action or responsibility. (For example, seeing the effects of war may inspire more people to be active advocates for peaceful solutions.)

  12. In this class period, each student will share his or her slideshow to teach the rest of the class about one philanthropist featured in the documentary The Gift of All.

  13. How students present the facts from their biographies depends on your technology resources. Here are some presentation options:

    1. In the computer lab, each student sets up his/her slideshow on a computer, and students move from computer to computer reading about the different people.

    2. Students put their presentations on a common server and students sit in small groups at individual computers and view the presentations one by one.

    3. The teacher projects the slide shows one by one on the wall, and students present their own information to the whole class.

    4. If you have four or five computers, put groups of four or five at each computer. Students present their slide shows to their small groups. After fifteen minutes, scramble the groups and repeat so students present and listen to a different group of presentations.

  14. Bring the class together as a whole group to reflect on the information. Discuss any further evidence of what makes this generation unique. How did their community shape them and how did they shape their community? Ask the students if they know anybody from this generation. Do the people they know have similar traits? Tell the students to watch for these philanthropists as they watch the rest of the documentary in the next class period.

Assessment 

Student presentation should include the four required slides.

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.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Discuss the role of family life in shaping a democratic society.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Give examples of human interdependence and explain why group formation is one strategy for survival.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.