Responding to a Violent Act in Civil Society: Parkland

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners will explore the impact of and responses to the February 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  They will explore alternative ways to respond in a nonviolent way and learn how acting philanthropically will often produce positive results even out of tragedy.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Class Period with homework and optional art poster

The learner will:

  • learn about an act of violence.
  • explore nonviolent means of responding and working for change
  • explore acts of philanthropy as related to crisis
  • explore a time when they were the giver or the receiver of a philanthropic act
  • art supplies
  • school-shooting data and visuals relating to Parkland  [see links in Bibliography]
  • A Reflection Response handout
  • An Act of Philanthropy handout



    Anticipatory Set

    Write the words February 14, 2018  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida. 9-11  Ask the students what they know or remember about this event both on that day and afterward.   Write a few comments on the board .  remind them that there have been and still are school shootings in this country.  You may wish to show the interactive map linked in the Bibiolograpy.  

  2. Show photgraphic images from that day and from the Marches for Our Lives that resulted.  There are many good links in the Bibliography.  Explore as well other responses to that violent act; not all believed that marches are they way to go.  You may wish to show the website for the March for Our Lives.  Explain that while there are older gun violence organizations such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence  and Everytown for Gun Safety, the March for Our Lives organization is student-led.

  3. Place the word intolerance on the board and solicit its definition and/or some of its synonyms from the learners. Ask whether intolerance palyed a role before or after Parkland and other school shootings.  Examples: student intolerance of one another and bullying has ben linked to the shooters; the refusal to compromise on gun rights has led to legislative stalemate.

    (Teacher Note: Merriam-Webster defines intolerance as -a) 'being unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters ; b) unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights.)

  4. What do the students think are appropriate responses to Parkland by their generation?  By others, including politicians? Caution them to be respectful /tolerant of differences of opinion even if they have a hard time understanding the reasoning of others.

  5. Ask them to comment about other actions in response to perceived injustices that became violent, like the Unite The Right rally Charlottesville in August 2017.  What are effective tactics for social change and justice?

  6. Explain that the positive responses to shootings and similiar acts of violence are forms of philanthropy and define it as the giving of time, talent and/or treasure for the good of another or the common good.  Have the students identify Parkland-related examples: shielding others, giving of blood donation, comforting the families of victims, raising money to support them, brining awareness to the issue and working to change the gun laws.


  7. For homework: students complete the Reflection and the Act of Philanthropy worksheets and turn it in at the beginning of the next class period.

  8. Optional/Extra Credit: Have students work in pairs to produce a poster-size visual that captures the nonviolent, philanthropic response to Parkland.


Assessment is based on observations of the learners' involvement in the class discussions and their completion of 'A Reflection Response' (Handout One), and their completion of 'An Act of Philanthropy' (Handout Two).

Cross Curriculum 

The teacher will lead the learners to reflect on philanthropic acts that they have done in the past. This may be acts as simple as helping around the house, or volunteering time in their community. This will help them to define philanthropy on a personal level.

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. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Provide an example of an organization (or a service that it contributes) from a list of categories of civil society organizations.
    3. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify how subgroups and families in society demonstrate giving, volunteering, and civic involvement.
  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. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.
  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.