Strategies for Empowering Students

  • To help students appreciate and learn about historical events
  • To enhance students' understanding of the difference between expository and narrative text
  • To promote students' interest in and appreciation for cultural diversity

  • Development of strategy for examining and evaluating character traits
  • Acquisition of new, unfamiliar, or forgotten knowledge about historical events and people
  • Implementation of knowledge

  • Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies
  • Geography

Students will read selections or books about two real (nonfictional) people who were considered heroes as a result of one or more special feats or accomplishments.

Using a compare and contrast chart, students will compare the two by using the following categories:

  • date of birth and death
  • profession/vocation
  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • education
  • family background
  • values and beliefs
  • accomplishments
  • contributions to society and country
After completion of the compare and contrast chart, the students will write a report on the two people they selected, including all of the categories listed plus any others the students wish to incorporate.

These reports can be shared orally and used for discussions centering around issues such as the representation of women and minorities in history, for role play, or for historical re-enactments.

Students have read books or stories about Ghandi and Martin Luther King. They will use the information from these sources to complete the compare and contrast chart as follows:

Read the quote by Thomas Morell: "See the conquering hero comes! Sound the trumpets, beat the drums!"

  • Ask students to describe their concept of hero. In their assessment, what does one have to do, be, or act like in order to earn this honor?

  • Ask students if they think heroes exist today. Why or why not?

  • Have the students who answered yes to name these heroes and give the reasons they were selected. What did these people do or accomplish?

  • Have the students who said that no heroes exist today research people who have been considered such. They will focus on the attributes, feats, and accomplishments that earned these people the label of hero.

  • Have the two groups compare their list of people and accomplishments to determine if there are similarities.

  • Have both groups research Thomas Morell to find:

    • his background
    • beliefs, values, and interests
    • whether or not he would have been considered a hero

  • How did students demonstrate their interest in reading nonfiction materials?

  • How did students exhibit their ability to read expository materials?

  • How did this activity motivate students to learn or enhance their research skills?

  • In what ways did students demonstrate their awareness of and appreciation for the cultural and ethnic contributions made by individuals?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.