American Heroes, Past and Present
- How have Americans shown civic virtues throughout history?
- Students will understand the civic virtues practiced by Americans throughout history.
- Students will analyze the virtues, attitudes, and actions of those individuals.
Facilitation Notes: Students will consult Appendix A: Founding Principles and Civic Virtues Organizer and Appendix B: Being an American Unit Graphic Organizer from the first lesson in this curriculum.
Distribute What Is a Hero? Graphic Organizer. Ask students to discuss with a partner or do a quickwrite responding to the following prompts:
- What does it mean to be a hero?
- Who is one of your personal heroes? Why?
Lead a brief class discussion on answers. Ask students: Is a hero the same as a celebrity? A leader? Encourage students to explain their reasoning. Create a class definition of a hero.
- Distribute one card from Character Cards to each student. Ask students to read the character card and take a few minutes to complete the relevant row on their chart in the handout. Students should consult Appendix A: Founding Principles and Civic Virtues Organizer to help them complete the handouts.
- After completing their analyses, students will play the hero on their card and take part in a historical networking event. Give students 10 to 15 minutes to circulate through the room, introducing themselves to other heroes and providing a glimpse into the life, personality, and achievements of their American hero. As students learn about another hero, they should fill in the appropriate row on their chart. Depending on class size and time allotted, students may not be able to speak to every individual, but that is not necessary.
- Optional: Form mixed groups of four that will represent different time periods, genders, beliefs, careers, etc. In these new groups, students will have a “dinner party” in character where they will get to know the other historic figures. Students should act in character and engage in a conversation that allows them to compare their assigned heroes’ lives, accomplishments, values, opinions, and heroic actions.
Assess & Reflect
- Bring students back to complete their analysis and discussion questions as themselves (drop character). Debrief with a large-group discussion on student answers.
- Have students return to Appendix B: Being an American Unit Graphic Organizer from the first lesson in this resource and complete the applicable row as an exit ticket.
- Have students write a three- to five-line social media post for one or more of the heroes. Students can use the internet to research their heroes if needed.
- Ask students to think of a time when they acted in a heroic manner (even on a small scale). Have them draw superhero comic strips that chronicle their deeds.
- Have students interview a hero living in their community. Students can share the results of this oral history project through transcripts of the interviews, photo essays, a community “quilt,” or collage.
Capstone Project: What Does “Being an American” Mean to Me?
Amelia Earhart: The Legend and the Person
Join Mary, Gary, and Eryn as they celebrate and reflect on the fascinating life of Amelia Earhart, a true American trailblazer. They’ll delve into the famed aviator’s cultural influence as a pioneering female figure, as well as the mysterious—and still unresolved—circumstances surrounding her disappearance in 1937, in the midst of a daring effort to circumnavigate the globe.
Disney: Walt’s World
Disney World, Disney+, Donald Duck. The legacy of Walt Disney is all around us, but what do we actually know about the creator of the multi-industry empire we have all grown up with? In our last episode of 2020, Mary, Gary, and Eryn, are joined by special guest Tracey Downey, teacher and long-time Disney World cast member, to examine the relationship between the entrepreneur Walt Disney and his company today. What can Tracy's unique insider perspective teach us about the thoughtfulness that goes into the Disney experience? How important is Walt's vision to the present-day company?
Hero to Traitor: Benedict Arnold & Vice
They always say “learn from the past,” but looking at the vastness of history, this is a daunting task. This week, Gary is joined by guest Kirk, Director of Content, to look at the decisions of Benedict Arnold, a prominent American Revolutionary military hero who defected to the British side in 1780. How can looking at Arnold’s own virtues and vices teach us how we can make good decisions?
Remember the Ladies: Women’s Right to Vote
What was the seminal moment in the votes for women movement? Join Mary and special guest Dr. Emily Krichbaum, History Department Chair at the Columbus School for Girls and founder of Remember The Ladies, as they delve into women’s progression of rights, ultimately leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment. What many roles did women have in advancing their right to vote? What methods of protest made Alice Paul different from her contemporaries? Check out more episodes at https://billofrightsinstitute.org/podcast
Selma, Montgomery and “Good Trouble”
Gary, Mary, and Eryn reflect on a particularly important moment in the civil rights movement, the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. They'll explore how the events of Selma fit into the bigger picture of the civil rights movement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. What can this march teach us about the significance of turning points in a movement? And what lessons from it are still very relevant today?
The Vanderbilts and the American Dream
We hear the phrase "The American Dream" all the time, but what does it actually mean? In this episode of Fabric of History, Mary, Gary, and Eryn explore this question by tracing the origins of one of the most successful families in American history, the Vanderbilts. What do the legacies of some of its most prominent members teach us about integrity and human nature?
Heroes and Villains: The Quest for Civic Virtue
Heroes and Villains: The Quest for Civic Virtue uses narratives to discuss the concepts of civic virtue in all classrooms. Topics range from Alice Paul and perseverance to Benedict Arnold and treason. Each virtue narrative includes corresponding discussion guides, journal templates, a toolbox with additional activities, and suggestions for further reading on each topic or virtue.
Heroes and Villains
Heroes and Villains uses narratives to discuss the concepts of civic virtue in all classrooms. Each virtue narrative includes corresponding discussion guides, journal templates, a toolbox with additional activities, and suggestions for further reading on each topic or virtue.