People Who Made a Difference

6, 7, 8

Who are some of the people who have made contributions to and bridged gaps in social justice, diversity, tolerance, civil rights and equality? Learners will write about and discuss people who historically have made a difference in the lives of others.

PrintFour Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

Students will be able to:

  • define and use the terms social justice, diversity, tolerance, civil rights and equality.
  • research how the contributions of one individual were an act of philanthropy and contributed to the common good.
  • synergize the findings of their classmates and create a list of characteristics of people who made a difference in the world.
  • PowerPoint slideshow below
  • Access to a media center or the Internet or handouts of chosen historical figure
  • Report Rubrics (handout below)
Home Connection 

Learners describe to a family member a person who they felt contributed to making a difference in this world. Learners then bring in a list of people who they discussed at home.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask, “Who are some people in this world who made a difference?” (Slide 2 of the PowerPoint). On the board write down the individuals the students come up with. Then pose a second question, “What do all of these people share in common?” Write down their answers. 

  2. Have the learners take out a sheet of lined paper and number from 1-6 skipping four lines in between each number. 
    Have them write down the following six terms: (These are on slide 4 of the PowerPoint)
    • Social Justice
    • Diversity
    • Tolerance
    • Civil Rights
    • Equality
    • Philanthropy
  3. Present to students slides 5-10 of the PowerPoint and have them write notes for the six terms.

  4. Show slide 11 of the PowerPoint and explain how some people in history didn’t follow the ideals in those six terms and other people worked to better the world --  and that they’ll be studying them.

  5. Students will each conduct research on a historical figure who made the world better in some way. Each student takes or chooses the name of a historical figure from the names in the handouts below (may be cut out and distributed randomly from U.S. History Figures and World History Figures). Alternatively, the teacher may select one name they whole class learns about. 

  6. Students may use the handout Investigation of a Person Who Made a Difference to guide their research-and-report assignment. 

  7. When students are done with their reports, synergize the traits that great people in history shared by writing them on a sheet of butcher paper. Reiterate how many of them worked to increase social justice, diversity, tolerance, Civil Rights, equality, and philanthropy.

    Encourage your students to emulate such traits and record their findings on the wall as a reminder.


The written and oral reports may serve as an assessment of learning for this lesson. Teachers may use the rubric provided in the handouts below.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. 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.