AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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All Grades

  • Encourage your students to enter the Valentine’s Day Card contest.
  • Ask your students to recommend a book, poem, lyric, movie, painting, etc. that they feel illustrates courage and explain why they recommended it.
  • Provide your students with a definition of courage. Ask them: Who do you think is courageous and why? Do you agree with this definition of courage? Why or why not? How would you rewrite it? What do people do everyday that is courageous or brave? What can you do?
  • Have students keep a journal to reflect on what they think courage is, what they learned about courage in their class and whether their original thinking changed and in what way.
  • Profile those who give back. After learning about courage, have students work in small groups or independently to nominate someone that they believe is courageous and share their story with the class.
  • Partner different classes where older students can mentor younger students. Older students will have an opportunity to model the values and behaviors they’ve learned, and younger students will have an opportunity to experience the values firsthand.  

Early Elementary School

  • Read to students the story Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. Do you think that Frog and Toad were courageous? Why? Do you think that by trying to be courageous for each other, they became less afraid and more courageous?
  • Introduce students to key historical figures or heroes who worked to improve the lives of those living in poverty or who didn’t have the same opportunities as others (Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Abraham Lincoln). Have students think about heroes they know and why they are a hero.
    Ask students: What makes a person a hero? Can anybody be a hero? What kinds of things do the students do to support their family, friends or classmates?

Late Elementary to Middle School

  • Have students look for unsung or lesser-known heroes (historical and contemporary) who helped better lives of others. Students will share their hero and why they selected him/her.  

Middle to High School

  • A World War I study concluded that courage is contagious. In other words, the brave example of one courageous leader can sway an entire army. Do you agree with this statement? Why? Do you think it can apply to life outside of the military? Provide examples to help support your position.
  • Have students listen to I Whistle a Happy Tune , by Rogers and Hammerstein. Ask them to select a song they know that they believe illustrates courage and explain why they chose it.
  • Read the excerpt from the philosopher Epictetus and ask your students: Do you think this excerpt elicits courage? Why? Can you give examples from life today to help illustrate your position?
  • Introduce students to key events and activists who have fought to improve living conditions across the country. Events/activists could include: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr.,Cesar Chavez, the role of labor unions.