What factors motivate a community to value giving and volunteering? This unit, modeling the story of one community, inspires students to tell the story of their own people and places. In 2004, West Michigan was recognized by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as the nation's second most generous region per capita. This unit explores the stories, events, personalities, and motivations that create a culture of philanthropy. Using the video documentary about West Michigan as a model, students investigate the profound impact that individual philanthropists (including themselves) can have on their community. Students will create stories and use the stories as a gift to others. Although it was written about West Michigan, this unit is easily adapted to any community, urban or rural.
Focus Question: How do communities impact individuals, and how can individuals impact a community?
Seven 50-minute lessons, one 20-minute lesson, plus time to research and write biographies
The learner will:
Students learn about the people and places in their own community (school, city or town, or state) and design a project to address a local need. As a demonstration of learning, students interview a local philanthropist and write a biography (can be someone from their neighborhood, family, or faith-based group). The published and illustrated biography becomes a gift when students read aloud to elementary students, share literacy strategies, and teach the concept of philanthropy.
The completed biography will meet grade level expectations for writing and format. Biography must include a definition of philanthropy and examples of philanthropy in their community. Students exhibit literacy skills as they model reading aloud and discuss their biography with a younger student.
For homework in Lesson One: Discovering Our Legacy of Giving, the students read a two-page biography and make a bulleted list to share with the class the next class period.
in Lesson Two: Exploring Our Legacy of Giving, students get input from family members on names of philanthropists in the community.
Although this unit was written for West Michigan, the lessons are adaptable to any community, urban or rural.
The documentary featured in this unit was produced by the SO.U.L of Philanthropy project along with The Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Calvin College. Grand Rapids Public Library holds the copyright and has copies available for viewing. Go to www.soulofphilanthorpy.org for more information.
On the third day of Lesson Three: Sharing Our Legacy of Giving, the students bring their completed biographies to an elementary classroom to share their stories of giving. Please arrange this field trip in advance and let the students know as soon as possible for what grade level their biographies should be geared. Each middle school student will be paired with an elementary student. The students will read their biographies and ask questions. This is an act of philanthropy as they share their time and talent with a younger student as well as teach about philanthropy, important members of the community, and civic virtue.
The Gift of All: a Community of Givers, produced by The S.O.U.L. of Philanthropy along with The Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Calvin College. Copyright © Grand Rapids Public Library, City of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2008, 2009. Streaming video available at http://learningtogive.org/videos/gift_of_all.asp
Learning to Give. "SOUL of Philanthropy" project. Includes links to video, related quotations, and briefing papers (biographies) http://learningtogive.org/teachers/SOUL/
"S.O.U.L. of Philanthropy" (Sharing Our Uncommon Legacy), a project of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation http://soulofphilanthropy.org/
See individual lessons for benchmark detail.
Lessons Developed By:
Learning to Give
Learning to Give
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