Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Exploring "Heroism"
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into five sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extensions -- Additional activities
Community Connections -- Real world actions for students after completion of the lesson


Media Components

Computer Resources:
  • You will need at least five or six computers with Internet access to complete the project. Here is what we recommend:
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above. Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM.
  • A digital camera or a scanner (optional).
Specific Software Needed:
  • Powerpoint, Hyperstudio, or similar presentation software.

  • Access to Internet enabled computers, a digital or regular camera, a scanner, and any presentation software such as the ones listed above.

  • Drawing paper, scissors, glue, tape, and magazines, newspapers or other periodicals from which pictures and text can be clipped.

  • Notepads for taking notes and writing journals.

    Bookmarked sites:
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    Introductory Activity:
    (one class period)

  • Begin the lesson by explaining to students that in the next few days they will be exploring the theme of “heroism,” based on the documentary HEROES OF GROUND ZERO. Ask students to think about the word “hero,” and have them respond in their journals to the following questions:
    • How do you define a hero? When you hear the word “heroes,” what images and thoughts come to your mind?

    • Name at least three of your heroes. They can be fictional or nonfictional. They can be someone from real life such as a well-known historical figure, or a character from a book, movie or TV show.

    • Write down at least three reasons why you consider these people heroes.

  • Divide the class into groups of four or five students. Explain to students that they will remain in these groups for the duration of this lesson unit.

  • In small groups, ask students to share their journal responses with one another. After the students in each group share their responses, they should come up with the following based on their discussions:
    • a definition of “hero”

    • a list of characteristics that define someone as a hero

    • a list of five of the most important heroes of our time

  • Share the group responses with the entire class and write down student responses on the board.

  • Based on the class discussion, solicit the best definition for “hero” and a list of characteristics that make a “hero.”

  • Have students complete the organizer Hero Analysis Chart. They should complete the chart based on the class discussion and their journal response. Discuss chart responses. Are there some general qualities or characteristics that all heroes share?

  • Tell students that over the next few days they will be working in groups to create a presentation on the theme of “heroism” for a class project.

  • For homework ask your students to start collecting images of heroes from any printed materials such as newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, or Web sites that allow viewers to print their online digital images. Tell students that they can use cameras (regular or digital) to take photos of real people or events that help illustrate the concept of “heroism.” They can also look for music, movie clips, or artwork that portray “heroes.” Give students time to scan images for their final project. Make sure students do not wait until the last minute to scan their images.

    Learning Activities:

    Activity One:
    (one class period)

  • Ask students to display the materials that they have collected for their project on their desks. Ask them to walk around the classroom for a few minutes to see what other students have collected. Discuss what types of things they saw and their experiences in collecting their own materials.

  • Ask students to get back into their groups. Having already written the names and URLs of the Web sites listed below on separate pieces of paper, ask each group to pick one piece of paper and visit the site listed there. (No two groups should visit the same Web site.) Have your students use the definitions of heroes that have been discussed to measure the heroes described on the Web site they visit. Ask each group to answer the following questions after they finish reading the information on their Web site:
    • Does the acknowledged heroic figure fit your definition of a hero? If your answer is yes, find evidence on the Web site to illustrate his/her heroic traits. If not, explain why.

    • Why do you think our society has chosen these people to be our heroes?
    Web sites:

    The American Presidents

    The African American World Timeline

    Daring to Resist

    Freedom Never Dies-The Story of Harry Moore

    John Glenn, the American Hero

    Heroism in the Modern World

  • After students have finished this activity, write these two questions on the blackboard:
    • Is it necessary that we all have the same definition of what makes a hero?
    • Is it important for young people and adults to have heroes? Why or why not?
    For homework have students think about these questions for homework and come to class prepared to discuss.

    Activity Two:
    (one class period)

  • Discuss each of the questions assigned for homework with the students. You can create two groups for each question: students who would answer “yes” and students who would answer “no.” After the discussion, ask students if the dialog made them think differently about the concept of “heroes.” Did they learn anything? Did they change their position on any of the questions after the debate?

  • Start viewing HEROES OF GROUND ZERO. Before viewing the program, give students the organizer Questions for Discussion so they can think about the questions while viewing the program.

    Activity Three:
    (one class period)

  • Continue viewing the video with your students. After you have finished viewing, have students complete the Questions for Discussion organizer you handed out the day before. You may want to show the video again if students need help in answering the questions.

  • When students have finished answering the questions, go over their answers. You may want to review relevant parts of the program with the class.

  • Have a class discussion about how the documentary HEROES OF GROUND ZERO changed students’ understanding of the concept of “heroism.”

    Activity Four:
    (two class periods)

  • Before the class begins, go to to set up an online class. Click on “Create a New Class.” Follow the instructions to register and write down your class name, class key, user name, and password. Log in and go to the “Conferencing” link to add topics for your students to discuss. Here are some suggestions:
    • Are all heroes courageous? Can heroes be fearful in desperate situations?

    • Does a hero have a responsibility to the people who admire him or her? Why or why not?

    • What’s the most important factor in determining if someone is a hero?

    • In what way are the firefighters in HEROES OF GROUND ZERO similar to or different from the other heroes in American history?

    • What is your new definition of a hero?

  • Begin the class by asking the students to go to Copy the class name, class key, user name, and password on the blackboard. Have students copy this information and keep it in a safe place. Ask your students to join the class discussion by following these steps:
    1. Log into the site using the user name and password.

    2. Join the class by going to the link “Classes” and click “Join.”

    3. Type in the class key in the box to join the class.

    4. Once in the virtual class, click the “Conferencing” link to view the current topics for discussion. Here they should see the topics you have posted.

  • Have students respond to the discussion questions you have posted. This can be done individually or as a group activity (depending on the availability of computers). Demonstrate for students how to post messages.
    1. When responding to a discussion question, they must click on “Post Messages” for the discussion topic they wish to respond to.

    2. If they would like to post their own topics for class discussion, they need to click on “Create a New Topic,” and then post their discussion topic.

    3. They can respond to each other’s comments by clicking the “Reply” feature right under the subject.

  • Give students enough time to participate in the online discussions. Join your students in the discussion forums. If they are not able to finish writing their comments and going through the questions, they can continue the discussions from any other place where the Internet is accessible.

  • For homework have students write a story, one-act play, persuasive or personal essay, or poem to express their reactions to their online discussions. Their creative work should demonstrate their understanding of, feelings about, and perspectives on the concept of “heroism.” Students should use the organizer Writing Guidelines to help them with this assignment.

    Activity Five:
    (one to two class periods)

  • Ask your students to log in to to join the class online. Tell them to go to the “ Document” Link to post their writing piece. First they should click “Add a Document.” Give a title to the document with the author’s name next to it. (For example, “There is a Hero in All of Us” by John Smith) Then, type the essay into the text box. If they have the writing saved on a disc, they can just copy and paste it in the text box and click “Add New Document.”

  • Give your students the organizer Writing Commentary Guidelines . Tell them they will be commenting on one of their peers’ writing pieces. Have students read over the organizer. Divide students into pairs and have them comment on one anothers’ writing. They can send their comments to each other by clicking “Send a Comment to…” after viewing the document. Encourage them to go back and forth a few times with their partner. Have students revise the creative writing piece and hand it in the next day.

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:
    (two to three class periods)

  • Now that students have had a thorough discussion about heroes and the documentary, HEROES OF GROUND ZERO, it’s time for them to demonstrate their understanding of the discussion and how this lesson has affected them, their views, feelings, and beliefs, etc. Explain that each group will be creating a presentation that expresses their ideas, impressions and thoughts on the theme of heroism.

  • Have students get into their groups and discuss what they will put in their presentation. Have them look together through the materials that they have collected individually.

  • Their presentation should present what the group knows or how the group feels about the concept of “heroism.” Here are some suggestions for what students may include in their presentations:
    • Journals reflections
    • Thoughts about and/or reactions to the documentary HEROES OF GROUND ZERO
    • People who are heroes in your opinion
    • Creative writing done on the theme of “heroism”
    • Photographs or other forms of illustration
    Ideally, the presentation should be created using PowerPoint or Hyperstudio. Before they actually begin to create the presentation, have students come up with a plan for their presentation and an outline of the content of individual slides.

    When the final projects are completed, ask each group to present their work to the class.

    Upon completion of the class presentations, have students do some reflective writing in their journals about how this lesson unit on “heroism” affected them.


    Cross-Curricular Extension:

    • Debate this statement: “Heroes are defined by cultural contexts.”
    Community Connections:

    • Have the class create hero portraits. Put all the written work and artwork together to create an anthology dedicated to the community heroes.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students