PrintOne to Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • develop a plan toward the betterment of a civil society within their school community.
  • model the behaviors of civic virtue.
  • An audio version of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream”  speech
  • A Common Cause (Handout One) Spanish version (Handout Four)
  • Making A Difference (Handout Two) Spanish version (Handout Five)
  • Core Democratic Values (Handout Three) Spanish version (Handout Six)


  1. Anticipatory Set:Have students listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech “I Have A Dream.” Have them write a reflection on his message.


  2. Write the word philanthropy on the board. Review with the students the definition you have determined for your class. (Example: individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good .) Generate a class discussion regarding the responsibilities of each citizen regardless of age. Have students refer to their vocabulary words from lesson one and review their definitions. (civic virtue, civil society, enlightened self-interest, egoism, and altruism )

  3. Review John F. Kennedy's quote: “ Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Ask them to write a reflection of what his intended message was. Discuss.

  4. Ask students what they believe a more civil society in their school, community or country would look like. Have them come up with one small, concrete plan of action that they themselves could do to make it become a reality. Have students paste their dreams into the cover of their journals (or collect them and keep them in a folder to be reviewed at a later date).

  5. Working in small groups, instruct students to create a listing of personal behaviors that would ensure the success of a civil society. Return to a whole group and have students generate a common class list from the ideas they generated. Distribute A Common Cause ( Attachment One ) and have students record their class list to be used in their plan. Have each group complete the form by developing a plan on how to create a civil society within the school. Allow groups to report and choose the activities they are willing to do for the betterment of the school. (Ideas might include: hanging posters in all of the hallways regarding civic virtue, or rewarding positive behavior of others by giving them a ribbon to wear showing they have modeled civic virtue.) Collect and save the results to be reviewed at a later date.

  6. Distribute Making A Difference ( Attachment Two ) and have students complete the graph with regard to their school-wide plan. Distribute a copy of Core Democratic Values ( Attachment Three ). Discuss the information and make sure students understand what the terms mean. Have students complete the bottom of Attachment Two by aligning their actions to the Core Democratic Values.

  7. Have students review each of their attachments to this lesson periodically (Common Cause and Making A Difference ). Discuss their progress. Is it successful? Why or why not? What might they change to realize their dream? (This activity would lend itself well to an occasional daily journal entry.)


Listing of personal behaviors on the handout: A Common Cause 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.