following descriptive listing of all 30 HEROES units is
presented to reveal a suggested instructional sequence.
Unit #1: Getting Started: Who Is Your Hero?
We recommend that you begin with the Companion Unit entitled
"Getting Started: Who Is Your Hero?" using it
for diagnostic, formative, and summative evaluation and
assessment purposes. With this unit, you will be able
to learn your students' initial and changing opinions
of and prior knowledge about heroes.
Unit #2: Heroic Character Traits From A to Z
Follow the evaluation unit with the Companion Unit entitled
"Heroic Character Traits from A to Z." This
unit introduces the concept of heroes by identifying the
heroic traits found in most real heroes-one per letter
of the alphabet. After assessing your students' understanding
of heroes and introducing heroic character traits, teach
as many of the 22 biographical Hero Profile Units as you
like, beginning with Raoul Wallenberg. Then complete your
study of heroes with any of the six other Companion Units
you deem appropriate for your students.
Units #3 – #25: The Twenty-Two Hero Profile Units
The following twelve notations, (a) to
(l), apply to all 22 Hero Profile Units.
These units are designed to be easily used in any sequence.
Please refer to The Instructor’s Guide for additional
sequencing options. One popular alternative is to coordinate
the Hero Profile Units with holidays and current and special
events throughout the calendar year.
(a) All the Hero Profile Units follow the same basic
format. First review a whole unit, and then pick and
choose which activities are most appropriate for your
students and your instructional time constraints.
(b) The materials in each unit are organized in three
levels, from the most complex to the most basic. Each
unit begins with general instructions for using
the unit and then with suggested activities
that students might do. A contextual timeline
follows – not of the individual hero’s life
– but listing social and political events, technological
and medical discoveries, inventions, and other interesting
events that took place during the hero’s lifetime.
This time line should be read by or to the students
(as age/ability appropriate) at the beginning of the
unit. This is truly fun and fascinates both teachers
and students. Do you know by whom and when the safety-pin
was invented? [Clue: take a look at the Timeline in
the Harriet Tubman unit.]
(c) Next are readings and activity sheets for students
at three readability levels. Each of the three levels
in each unit contain different details and activities,
with Level III containing the richest detail and Level
I typically providing interesting art activities.
(d) Instructors of all three levels should read the
hero biography contained in Level III of each unit.
This reading provides background information useful
for instruction at all three of the levels. The biographies
are also used as a student reading at Level III.
(e) The "Sharing" sections at the end of almost
all the student activity sheets encourage intergenerational
communication about heroes. It is hoped that students
will discover the hero within themselves, their families,
their communities, and their culture.
(f) The program materials lend themselves to a discussion
of historical and contemporary social issues and the
various roles heroes play in shaping our lives and the
future of the world.
(g) After the students learn about a particular hero,
they are directed to retell the story of the hero in
a modified round-robin style or through other creative
storytelling or communication formats in order to probe
(h) Geography and maps are included in the study of
the heroes. It is important for students to comprehend
the value of placing the individual within an historical
and geo-political context.
(i) Discussions about careers revealed in the student
readings are prompted.
(j) Discussion and hands-on activities about conflict
resolution, negotiation, and leadership abilities revealed
in the student readings and related activities are emphasized.
(k) Also emphasized is the importance of understanding
the historical context of each hero's life. Discussed
are technologies, political issues, risks and dangers,
conflicts and resolutions, and general social practices
common to the hero's lifetime.
(l) Remember that these units were designed as a complement
to mandated curriculum materials and educational standards.
They reinforce "the basics," and encourage
service learning and critical thinking skills. They
emphasize character development and can be useful in
guidance sessions. These units can be used within a
wide range of academic subjects, including art, music,
creative writing, vocabulary development, dramatics,
letter writing, mathematics and statistics, journalism,
o Unit # 26: A Hero of Your Choice
This Companion Unit requires each student to
identify a hero of his or her own choice. The hero may
be someone the student knows personally, has heard or
read about, or someone whose heroic actions have sparked
an interest. The selected hero may be famous or not famous.
The format for the creation of your own Hero’s Unit
is clearly defined, and yet it encourages students to
use both their talents and intellect to create a unit
worthy of their personal hero.
Students create timelines reflecting the contexts in which
the hero lives/or has lived. These contexts include: the
historical; the geo-political;
the technological; the cultural;
the socio-economic; and the intra and
inter personal context. Students create
or use maps to simulate a hero’s travels and activities.
They write speeches about their personal hero for a "selected
audience or organization;" They write newspaper articles
that address the who, what, where, when, and why
of journalism. The students create artistic works that
reflect the character and actions of their heroes including
poetry, dramatic enactments, storytelling, choreography,
composing music and writing lyrics, as well as drawing
social commentary cartoons. They use the letters of the
alphabet as a framework for identifying their hero’s
character traits and moreover they use Venn Diagrams to
compare and contrast heroes.
Debate is at the heart of this unit. With their instructor,
students defend and explore the heroic character traits
of the selected heroes – always asking, "Is
this person worthy of being called a real hero?"
In states where social studies standards include state
history, this can be a particularly exciting project for
both students and instructors. As students choose the
person from their state that they feel is a true hero,
this can be a wonderful method for the development of
sound research skills.
o Unit #26: A National Tradition: Heroes, Holidays
This Companion Unit initiates discussion about the many
ways in which heroes are honored. The activities may be
used to initiate student research about contemporary holidays,
their significance, and when and why they were established.
o Unit #27: Heroes: Generation to Generation
The activities in this Companion Unit help students explore
the concept of heroes with members of a different generation.
Ideally, the students will explore this concept by interviewing
people from a range of generations. In addition to helping
the students explore how the concept of heroes changes
over time, the activities teach interviewing, recording,
and reporting skills.
o Unit #28: The Hero Within Yourself
This Companion Unit is, perhaps, the most important in
the collection. The activities help the students make
an amazing discovery: they realize that they all
have the potential to be heroes. They develop
self-respect and respect for others, which enables them
to reach out and make a positive difference in the lives
of others. Students also learn that they need to stop,
look, and assess a situation, and then decide when to
act, not act, seek the help of others, and/or tell an
adult. The activities reinforce the fact that a hero can
be any age, and that an act of heroism can be large or
small and can occur frequently or once in a lifetime.
o Unit #29: Educators as Heroes
The purpose of this Companion Unit is to convey
to students the realization that many educators are real
heroes. Students will identify educators who are special
in their lives; interview others about who their favorite
educator hero is or was, and analyze why those educators
were real heroes; share the information they learn with
their classmates; and try to contact the hero educators
to let them know what they have meant to them, to others,
and to the community.
o Unit #30: Researching Heroes: Ethical Strategies,
Tools & Technologies
Good character must exist in all parts of our lives. When
conducting research in books or when using any and all
available technologies, good character is always important.
Students must learn to check their sources, confirm the
accuracy of information, recognize "editorial slants
or bias," and give appropriate acknowledgement to
their sources. They must learn to respect copyrights and
learn how to acquire permission to use information or
materials when needed. This units helps them learn the
correct formats for citations whether from: newspapers;
magazines; journals; television; radio; works of art;
the Web; monuments; archives; special collections; or
from anecdotal reports and interviews. It is important
that students learn to draw information from a diverse
research base. For younger students, we encourage the
instructor to create a scrapbook about heroes. All the
directions for this project are included in this unit.
Also included are “safe” websites that we
have reviewed and recommend.
The Instructor’s Guide serves as a ready reference
before, during, and after the implementation of HEROES.
It offers the following:
Program Aims and Goals
2. Expanded “How To Teach HEROES” Options
3. Sequence of Instruction Alternatives and Suggestions
4. Special Events and Projects: Ideas and Coordination
5. Recording Grids: For Curricular Development, Analysis,
Coordination with Standards
Content Area Integration;
Special Events and Projects;
Evaluation Strategies and Techniques; and
Customization of Grids
6. Additional Creative Instructional Strategies:
Hero Trading Cards (Ready to Reproduce Templates)
Hero Dramatic Productions
Heroes Quiz Shows including a ‘Jeopardy Game’
developed by Diane
Blake, a world expert researcher on the life and times
of Raoul Wallenberg.
7. A Reproducible STUDY OF HEROES Certificate of Appreciation
8. Observations & Recommendations from those
familiar with A STUDY OF HEROES
9. Glossary of Terms
11. Acknowledgments of Members of the HEROES
Pilot School Network