There are several curriculum connections to this topic, from Service Learning to Social Studies, Language Arts and Science. Use these Discussion Questions and Learning Activities to promote understanding and learning around the topic of Heroes. Adapt and modify these offerings to accommodate students of different ages, grades and learning styles.
Suggested Grades: 7-12, College
General Discussion Questions
1. How would you define the word "hero"?
2. What are some common attributes among people we classify as heroes?
3. Name some individuals you would classify as heroes, and explain why you believe each one is a hero.
4. Do you think heroes are "born" or "made"? Explain.
5. Visit the CNN Heroes website http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/ and read some of the heroes' profiles. Are there any stories that are especially inspiring to you? If so, talk about the contributions that these individuals are making to improve the lives of others and why they are inspirational.
Service Learning / Character Education / Civics
Questions for Discussion and Reflection
1. What are some causes or issues that you feel passionate about?
2. Is there a small -- or not so small -- part that you could play to advance one of those causes or issues? How would you go about finding out what you can do?
3. What talents or skills do you have that could benefit someone who needs help?
4. What kind of a commitment could you make in order to improve someone else's life?
5. How would you measure the effectiveness of your effort?
Note: Students who are interested in Service Learning projects can be encouraged to check out CNN's Impact Your World as well as local resources to learn about ways to volunteer.
Have students prepare and present video essays in response to one of these questions: (Note: You may want to stipulate a maximum running time for each video, based on the age of your students.)
Do you believe that one person can make an impact on the world? Explain.
Do you believe that a single person can change the course of history? Explain.
Who are your heroes and why?
Heroes in Literature
Generate a class discussion about the different kinds of heroes readers encounter across literature (e.g., tragic, epic, romantic) and their roles.
Have each student present an analysis of a memorable book that he or she has read that has a hero or heroine in it. Ask: What kind of literary work is it? (e.g., Biography, Fiction) What is the setting of the story? How would you synopsize its plot or storyline? What were some of the personal attributes of the hero/heroine? Without indicating what kind of literary hero the person might be, have the student explain what this character did that would classify him or her as a literary hero. Poll the class to find out what kind of hero they think the character in this book is.
Heroes in History
Divide the class into small groups. Direct each group to choose a specific time period or age and survey its history and culture, identifying some individuals that would be considered heroes of that time. Have each group share its findings with the class.
Generate a class discussion about what each hero did to advance a cause or improve the lives of others. Ask students: Would any of these individuals be considered heroes today? Why or why not? Do you think that there are attributes of heroes that span the generations?
Curriculum Connections -- National Education Standards
All 12 Standards apply
The Standards for the English Language Arts (http://www.ncte.org/standards) are published jointly by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) (http://www.ncte.org/) and the International Reading Association (IRA) (http://www.reading.org/).
I. Culture - Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity.
IV. Individual Development and Identity - Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of individual development and identity.
V. Individuals, Groups and Institutions - Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.
VII. Production, Distribution and Consumption - Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people organize for the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
VIII. Science, Technology and Society - Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of relationships among science, technology, and society.
X. Civic Ideals and Practices - Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.
Grades 5-8 - Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of
• Personal health
• Populations, resources, and environments
• Natural hazards
• Risks and benefits
• Science and technology in society
Grades 9-12 - Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of
• Personal and community health
• Population growth
• Natural resources
• Environmental quality
• Natural and human-induced hazards
• Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges
Meaningful Service: Service-learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.
Link to Curriculum: Service-learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.
Reflection: Service-learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one's relationship to society.
Diversity: Service-learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.
The K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice (http://www.nylc.org/objects/publications/Standards_Oct2009-web.pdf) are published by the National Youth Leadership Council (http://www.nylc.org/).