We the People Hall of Fame
Students will study the lives of those who contributed to the advancement of democracy or the common good.
The learner will:
- research important historical figures and evaluate the worth of their contributions to the advancement of democracy or the common good.
- illustrate grievances leading to the call for independence.
- compare the costs and benefits associated with personal acts of philanthropy.
- American History textbook
- Reference books
- Historical biographies
- Internet (optional)
- Rubric for Hall of Fame Essay (see Assessment)
Ask students how someone gets to be in a Hall of Fame. Assist students in developing a process that might be used to consider whether persons are eligible for admittance into such a place of honor.
As a starting point for this lesson, post the following names on the board:
- Bartolomé de las Casas (1474-1566)
- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
- Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814)
- Samuel Adams (1722-1803)
- Ethan Allen (1738-1789)
- Patrick Henry (1736-1799)
- Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797)
- Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)
- William Penn (1644-1718)
- Abigail Adams (1744-1818)
Ask which names the students recognize and what they know about the person.
Suggest that they might be in a Hall of Fame called "We the People." Discuss the meaning of the words "We the People." Ask students if they know the origin of the phrase (preamble to the U.S. Constitution). Explain that the Constitution limits the powers of government and reserves the power for the people, guaranteeing individual sovereignty. Have students decide why these words have been suggested for this particular Hall of Fame. With this answer in mind, have students develop a list of criteria candidates would have to meet to be nominated for placement in the Hall.
Explain that these names have been recommended as charter members of the "We the People" Hall of Fame. They belong to the period of time leading up to Independence from England. It will be the task of the class to research the names, accumulate data about each of them, nominate those who are considered worthy and, finally, vote on their acceptance.
Divide the class into small working teams (nominating committees). Let each team draw a name on which to work. Assign each group the task of designing the complete presentation to the class on their candidate.
Using the media center or available sources, such as their history text, encyclopedia, or the Internet, students are to determine why their candidate was recommended. Have them make a list of accomplishments, and explain what was done that contributed to democracy or the common good. The following list of questions may prove helpful in determining the value of the person's contribution:
- What was the need?
- Who has the need?
- Who is in the community?
- What talent or treasure was given or shared?
- What did it cost to fill the need?
- What goodness does the community experience from that giving or sharing?
- What is the reward for the one who shared?
- What would have happened if the need were not met?
Once this information is compiled, the team is to vote within itself as to whether or not it wishes to nominate the person for inclusion into the Hall of Fame. If the team votes to nominate the person, it should proceed to design a poster or prepare a short skit or report that can be used to inform the rest of the class about their candidate.
Once all teams have completed the research, presentations should be made by each nominating committee in which they share information about their candidate, and either nominate their candidate for inclusion into the Hall or explain why they voted not to nominate their candidate for inclusion into the Hall.
Reviewing the criteria for inclusion decided earlier in the lesson, students should vote by secret ballot on all the nominees that were selected by the nominating committees. Results should be announced.
A bulletin board in the classroom or in a school hallway should be prepared to receive the charter members of the "We the People" Hall of Fame. A short biography of all persons should be provided which includes their important contribution to democracy or the common good.
Each student will choose one individual in the Hall of Fame and write an essay explaining why that individual should have been accepted into the Hall. They may choose the individual they researched or any other member who was elected into the Hall of Fame. The essay should include a description of how that individual's philanthropic deed helped the cause of democracy or the common good and mention how the individual meets at least one of the criteria deemed necessary for admission into the Hall. See rubric below. 3 points The essay names one person who was selected for admission into the Hall of Fame, describes a philanthropic deed that helped the cause of democracy or the common good, and mentions how the individual meets at least one criterion necessary for admission into the Hall of Fame. 2 points The essay names one person who was selected for admission into the Hall of Fame and either describes a philanthropic deed or explains how the individual meets one criterion necessary for admission. 1 point The essay names one person who was selected for admission into the Hall of Fame but does not indicate any philanthropy nor explain how the individual meets the criteria.
Students will create a "We the People" Hall of Fame to share with other students in their school and to honor persons in history who have contributed to the common good or helped the advancement of democracy.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
Benchmark E.2 Give an example of an individual who used social action to remedy an unjust condition.
Benchmark E.5 Identify positive philanthropic historic acts or events that helped build the community, state, and nation.