Spreading the Good Word

6, 7, 8

Students will identify and celebrate their everyday heroes contributions to the common good in their community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintFive Forty-Five Minute Class Periods (Varies with the Number of Presentations)

The learner will:

  • identify and describe how everyday heroes help contribute to the common good.

Binding materials


  1. Anticipatory Set: Remind the learners that they learned about senior citizens who were considered “heroes” in history. Ask them to name some of the heroes who were discussed. They then learned about “heroes” who started nonprofit foundations whose intention was to contribute to the common good. Ask them to name some of them. Now explain that the learners will look for heroes “in their own backyards.” Ask them what they think that expression means.

  2. Explain that they have people around them, at home, in the neighborhood, in school, in places of worship, etc., who don’t draw attention to themselves but are heroes nevertheless. Ask students to recall the characteristics of heroes they identified in Lesson One: Heroes Here and There, Attachment One: Storyboarding Group Process. List them on the chalkboard. Direct the learners to close their eyes and, in complete silence, picture persons they know who exhibit these qualities. After a full minute, tell them to list the names of their “heroes” on a sheet of paper. Because these are personal heroes, the lists will not be the same.

  3. The teacher should model a description of a “personal hero,” explaining one or two characteristics that the person has. The statement should end with an explanation of how this person contributes to the common good by his or her actions.

  4. In small groups, have students define common good and explain how the actions of everyday heroes contribute to the common good. These should be shared with the class. Ask the learners if their perception of “heroes” has changed as a result of this unit. Solicit examples. Define the term philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures, ands taking action for the common good. Explain that this has occurred throughout history and around the world. Ask students to explain how contributing to the common good is considered philanthropy.

  5. Have students write a two or three-paragraph essay about their hero “in their own backyard.” It should explain who the person is, the characteristics the person has that make him or her a hero, and explain how this hero contributes to the common good.

  6. Put the students in small groups. Have the members of each group combine their work into one volume entitled The Power of One: Making a Difference for the Common Good. Students can combine their work in a number of ways. They may bind it together if you have the necessary materials. They may staple construction paper together to create a booklet and tape or paste their work onto the pages, etc. The teacher should use his/her discretion regarding how students should combine their work.

  7. Explain to students that each group will present their work to an audience in another venue (another classroom). They should describe the actions taken by these everyday heroes and how these actions contributed to the common good. Essentially, students will reflect upon what makes these everyday people “heroes of the community.”

  8. Give the learners tips for presenting:

  9. Be excited and positive!

  10. Use a “teacher voice” when speaking.

  11. Avoid reading your work verbatim.

  12. Summarize and highlight information.

  13. Keep presentations to an appropriate amount of time.

  14. Try to involve the audience in some way at least once (by asking a question or having a student comment or share a story, etc.).

  15. Use movement and gestures.

  16. Be creative and interesting.

  17. Share the workload—make sure every group member is involved in the presentation.

  18. Have students come up with a presentation method and practice it in class. They should feel free to adopt whatever method they feel will work so long as they address the parameters of the assignment. Observe practice to find students who are creating a high quality presentation. When this group is ready, have them present to the class.

  19. Have the rest of the class point out good presentation techniques that they observed from this group. Have them also point out how this group could improve.

  20. Have students revise their techniques based on what they observed from the sample group. When they are ready, have several more groups present to the class.

  21. Take students to whatever venue you feel appropriate and have them present their work to the class. Each group could present or you could rotate groups—maybe three groups per venue. Use your best discretion to decide on a format.

  22. After the presentations are completed, students should invite their everyday heroes into the classroom and show them their compiled work. This should be somewhat of a “ceremony” where students thank these heroes for their commitment to the common good. Again, use your discretion when deciding how to structure this activity, but it should provide a good closure for the unit.


The completed essays and student presentations may be used as an assessment of learning in the unit.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will share with other classes how everyday heroes in the community contribute to the common good.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify and research public or social issues in the community, nation or the world related to the common good. Form an opinion, and develop and present a persuasive argument using communication tools.
  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.6 Identify and explain how fundamental democratic principles relate to philanthropic activities.