For the Common Good—A Time Capsule

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners will identify and tell the stories of historical figures who acted for and affected the common good, and review personal qualities that these historical figures possessed.

Lesson Rating 
PrintFive Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • use the vocabulary of philanthropy.
  • research and role-play a historical figure who acted for and affected the common good.
  • Famous Historic Philanthropic Figures (Attachment One)
  • Rubric for Historical Research (Attachment Two)
  • Colored pencils
  • Drawing paper


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Write the following journal question on the board, "Have you ever engaged in a philanthropic behavior, or has anyone ever acted in a philanthropic manner towards you? In a paragraph or more, tell me the story of who, what, when, where, and why." Give the learners about five minutes to write their responses, and take another five minutes to discuss their answers.

  2. Quickly review the terms from the previous lesson (philanthropy, character, personal virtue, actions for the common good, altruism, empathy, humanitarianism, pro-social behavior, selflessness, and tolerance). As an option, divide the learners into groups of five, assigning two words to each group. Give them colored pencils to illustrate their definitions. When they are done, let them show their drawings to the other groups and have them try to guess the terms.

    • Give the learners Famous Historic Philanthropic Figures (Attachment One). They will choose a philanthropist to research and portray. (Make sure students do not have the same persons.) Using their history books, have the learners find information regarding their philanthropist. Give the learners Attachment Two and Three which will give them a list of various historical Web-sites and a rubric for conducting historical research. If you have a computer available, have the students access the various Web-sites or go to the library and have them research various books and periodicals. Allow them three days to prepare the material to present to the class. Extra credit may be given to students who bring in props and/or dresses as the person.
    • Allow sufficient time for students to make their presentations before the class.

The journal paragraph and the research report, as performed, will serve as the assessment. Use Rubric for Historical Research (Attachment Two) for scoring the research.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.