Hands-On Activism


Level:
Middle school and high school
Subject: U.S. history and government
Time: One to two class periods
Preparation: Have class view the entire "Participation" segment (Act 3)


Who makes a difference? Ask students to cite examples of people in the school, community, and nation who make a difference in the world. What qualities do these people have that make them successful as agents of change?

After the discussion of local activists, watch the "Participation" Act and ask students to note the personal characteristics of the people in the video who make a difference. For instance, James "Rocky" Robinson, who runs the volunteer ambulance corps in Brooklyn, New York, might be described as caring, passionate, persistent, and tough. Chuck Kaparich, the carousel builder, might be called passionate, persistent, visionary, and kind.

When you've collected a list of qualities, look for commonalities. Which of the qualities seem to be essential to the success of these activists?

After you have this list of essential characteristics, ask students how these qualities could help create success in their own lives -- now and in the future.

To conclude the discussion, ask students to write a friendly letter to one person in the series. The letter should explain what the student noticed and admired about the activist. If people in the video inspired students to think in new ways or take action, they might mention that in their letter too. Send the letters. (Addresses for many of the people who appeared in the video are in the back of this guide.) Let students know that while these activists will enjoy hearing from them, they may not be able to respond because of their involvement in so many activities.

Finally, ask each student to find a person in the community who has "made a difference." Have students research their selections in the local paper and/or interview them. Create a showcase of activists in your hallway or school library.

Merrill Thompsen
Wilson Middle School
Yakima, Wash.



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