Promoting the Common Good

6, 7, 8

This lesson will emphasize the importance of voluntary action for the common welfare based upon student understanding of one's rights and the corresponding responsibility to protect them.

PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify ways of fulfilling responsibilities to protect the rights of all and promote the common welfare through voluntary action.
  • demonstrate how the guaranteed rights in the Bill of Rights promote the common welfare.
  • Posterboard
  • Craft materials for décor (chenille stems, puffy paint, felt, etc.)
  • Markers, colored pencils, crayons and poster paints
  • Scissors, glue, and tape
  • Magazines for picture cutout
  • Unit Student Assessment (Handout One) Spanish version (handout Three)
  • Unit Student Assessment Answer Key (Handout Two) Spanish version Four)

We the People. Calabasas, CA: Center for Civic Education, 1988.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Pose the question, "Do we also have a responsibility to be concerned with the well-being/interests of others as well as our own?" Accept all answers, asking students to defend their opinion.

  2. Explain that in the last lesson, the class discussed what responsibilities we have to protect our rights. In this lesson, they will examine the responsibility they may have to promote the common welfare. Define common welfare as what is good for everyone in the group (community, class, country, etc.), not just a few people.

  3. Elicit from students things we can agree on which are good for everyone involved.

    • Everyone needs a place to live in safety.
    • Everyone needs food and medical care.
    • Everyone needs to have the opportunity to go to school and get a job.
  4. Now describe a situation in which it is difficult to reach a decision that is best for everyone involved. It may be helpful to start with an example from home, then one from school, and finally, one in the larger community. (The teacher may wish to conduct this step of the instructional procedure in debate format).

    • Home decisionShould our family move to a new location?
    • School decisionShould students be able to dress as they wish, without the need for a dress code?
    • Community decisionShould a mall be built in a given area? Consider the pros and cons from each perspective involved (investors, citizens, animals, environment, etc.).
  5. Emphasize the ease or difficulty we may experience when trying to promote the common welfare of all (as discovered in the above discussion/debate). Ask, "What happens if we do not put the well-being of all people first?" and "What can we do to fulfill our responsibilities so that the rights and well-being of all people are protected?" The content of this discussion will assist students during the assessment.


In small groups, each group focusing on one of the five basic guaranteed rights, have students design and create a poster which illustrates three ways in which fulfilling responsibilities of that right ensures the well-being of all people, with the focus on ALL. The poster should include the name of the right, clearly illustrate the three ways the right ensures the well-being of all people, and should be of quality workmanship for display during the experiential component. The following is a suggested rubric. The categories could be given a point value or letter grade rather than outstanding, average, and needs improvement. Oustanding Average Needs Improvement Clearly and accurately identifies the name of the right on the poster in writing. Identifies the right in writing, but contains some misspellings. Right not identified on the poster in writing. Uses three illustrations to show how the right ensures the well-being of all people. Uses two illustrations to show how the right ensures the well-being of all people. Uses one or no illustrations to show how the right ensures the well-being of all people. Quality workmanship is shown. Poster is neat, eye-catching, and has large, colorful illustrations. An effort at quality is made, but one of the following qualities are lacking: Neatness Eye-catching Large, colorful illustrations Quality workmanship is not shown. Two or all of the following qualities are lacking: Neatness Eye-catching Large, colorful illustrations Unit Student Assessment: Use Unit Student Assessment (Attachment One) and Unit Student Assessment Answer Key (Attachment Two) for a written unit assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will have the opportunity to use their time and talent in the school community by creating posters, during the assessment of the lesson, which illustrate ways in which guaranteed rights ensure the well-being of all people. On their own time outside of class, each group will arrange a meeting with the principal, assistant principal, school counselor, or student leadership council to present their poster. When presenting the poster, students should explain the poster, ask permission to display it, and describe the purpose and importance of displaying the poster for the student body.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.