Unit II : Who are Heroes?
Identification and Study of Heroes.

See Unit I: What Are Heroes?
See Unit III: Heroic Actions

Subject Area:   All

Grade level:    Adaptable to all


After reaching an understanding of what defines a hero, students are ready to identify and study them. This portion may take several days or extend throughout the semester or school year, depending on how you choose to use the topic and suggestions.

Introduction of MY HERO Project


Students are expected to:

  1. Describe the characteristics of a hero.
  2. Recognize the hero in a story.
  3. Identify heroes in their own lives and express why that person is a hero to them.
  4. Distinguish between a hero and a celebrity.
  5. Express verbally and in writing why a person is a hero to them.

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Internet-ready computers

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Activities and Procedures:

Step One: Review, Hero Folders and Beginning Activities

  1. Review the characteristics of a hero as determined in Unit I: What is a Hero?
  2. Write these characteristics on a poster or overhead transparency.
  3. In their Hero Folders, notebooks or journals, have students write any additional hero characteristics. If folders are used, students can include pictures, photos, illustrations or decorations.

    a. For kindergarten and first grade, descriptive words can be duplicated and cut out for students to glue on pages. They may then draw a picture of the hero doing something helpful.

    b. Older primary students may write their own descriptions and do illustrations for their Hero Folders.

    c. Hero Folders could include the following sections:

    1. Who is a hero?
    2. What does a hero do?
    3. Who are some heroes?

    You may want to divide this portion into sub-sections as you pursue heroes in different areas.

    d. Each section could contain brief hero stories, including some the students write about their personal heroes.

  4. Select from the following “fun activities” as they fit your time, student interest and curriculum focus:

a. Write newspaper columns featuring a specific hero.

b. Write letters to heroes.

c. Write nominations of heroes for a major award.

d. Conduct a ceremony honoring your school heroes.

e. Produce a “Living Museum” in which each student plays the role of a different hero and tells something about that person and why he/she is a hero.

f. Set up a “MY HERO Museum” to display students' work.

g. Interview a hero and write a biography, newspaper article, script for a TV program, or a movie documentary. The information could come from an interview with another student, or from information gained through research.

By the third grade, students can:

  1. Use the computer to access www.myhero.com, sign the Guestbook and read what others have written about their heroes.
  2. Write their own hero stories to submit for posting on the MY HERO Website (submission optional).

When high school students discuss the characteristics of a hero and the distinction between heroes and celebrities, the lines may seem blurred between the two. For some teenagers, celebrities are heroes because their names are well-known. Assure students that both heroes and celebrities have their place and importance, but that there is a difference. Some heroes are not well known, nor are they celebrities. Some heroes are well-known, and some celebrities have done heroic deeds and exhibit the characteristics of a hero. Some celebrities are not in this “hero category” because they have not done heroic deeds.

Of course, each person is free to have his/her own opinion as to who is a hero and why. Often the positive impact of an individual is a personal matter.

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Step Two: Hero(es) in My Own Family

    1. Have the students identify and write a paragraph about people in their own families who are heroes and why.

They may have more than one hero in their families, if they choose. Family members include grandparents, stepparents, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, caretakers, friends and adults who are “like family.” Special care should be given so children without mothers or fathers can identify other role models in their personal lives.

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Step Three: Using MY HERO to Look at Other People's Heroes

  1. Demonstrate to the students how they will use the www.myhero.com Website to look at what others have written about their heroes. If you are not working in a computer lab where students can access the Internet, this demonstration can be done satisfactorily with overhead transparencies. See Reading MY HERO Stories and other MY HERO lesson plans for additional suggestions.
  2. Assign students (independently or in teams of two) to call up www.myhero.com. Choose or assign a story and print it out. Have students tell the class about this person and why he/she was considered a hero. Refer to the class definition of a hero, and compare this definition to why the author of the story is saying this person is a hero. Do the definitions match? What are the similarities and differences?
  3. At this point, you may choose to have students develop their own hero stories and use the simple MY HERO “Create” program to make their own MY HERO Website. Refer to the MY HERO main lesson plan menus for suggestions and to “A Teacher’s Guide to Using the Create Program.” Writing stories and making Web pages can also wait until the end of this unit.

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Step Four: Hero(es) in Our School Community

  1. Working in small groups, have students decide who are heroes in their classroom, in their school community and explain why. Again, you will gear this to the age level of your students and the amount of time you have for the topic. Students may want to recognize their school support staff—safety officers, nurses, custodians, lunch helpers, office staff. They may choose volunteers, teachers, administrators, alumni or others who have made a difference to them.

a. Each person in the group nominates a hero in whichever category you choose and tells why that person is a hero.

b. The group then reports this to the class. The “why” portion of the presentation is very important.

c. Students record this activity in their notebooks/journals or Hero Folders.

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Step Five: Heroes in Our Community (Town/City)

Repeat the activity outlined in Step No. 4 above, focusing on the whole town or city.

  1. Students may want to recognize people they feel make a positive contribution to their community—police, firefighters, community leaders, volunteers, doctors, or nurses.

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Step Six: Heroes in Our State, Nation, and the World

  1. Repeat activity outlined in Step No. 4. Considering the state, nation and world as a whole, students should identify people they feel have made significant contributions to society.
  2. You can narrow this search to specific time frames in the past or present, or to specific areas of contribution.
  3. Using the MY HERO categorization of heroes also helps students focus their ideas. MY HERO categories include angels, animals, artists, business people, children, community activists, earthkeepers, explorers, leaders of faith, freedom fighters, lifesavers, parents, peacemakers, poets, scientists, athletes, teachers, and writers. Whatever the category, students are looking for people they feel have made positive contributions to humanity.

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Step Seven: Writing Individual Hero Stories and Creating Hero Web Pages

  1. If students did not write and submit their hero stories earlier, doing so now would be beneficial. The simple-to-follow “Create” program allows students to cut and paste their written stories into a template and make their own Web page. To facilitate this project for your class, see the “Teacher’s Guide to Using the Create Program” and additional content-specific MY HERO lesson plans.

Each individual has a right to his/her own opinion. Be aware that MY HERO will not post any hateful stories or those intended to do harm. MY HERO encourages freedom of expression regarding positive differences made by others and by each of us.

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Step Eight: Revisiting MY HERO

Supplementing other curriculum:

After studying heroes, you may want to return throughout the year as the topics you cover lend themselves to the identification of specific heroes. When you revisit the idea of being a hero, you will want to return to the distinction between heroes and celebrities.

Current Events:

MY HERO features selected up-to-date stories from the AP Newswire that tie in with current events, as well as an archive of these stories.

Thematic Units:

The home page of MY HERO frequently changes to align with the calendar and present thematic groupings of stories. There is an archive of these thematic features as well as a calendar to tell you when they will appear on the home page.

Some additional ideas for creating your own thematic units using MY HERO stories include:

  •   Heroes in sports;
  •   Heroes in the entertainment world;
  •   Heroes in history;
  •   Heroes celebrated in school;
      (i.e., those for which there are school holidays)
  •   Heroes in fiction (literature—characters or authors);
  •   Heroes in science;
  •   Heroes who have been “life savers.”

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Created by Ann M. Hoffelder, Curriculum Consultant and Allyx Schiavone