Standards-Based Lessons Using MY HERO
By Sara Armstrong, Ph.D.
Teachers engage students with stories from the
MY HERO online archive in a variety of ways, and meet state standards
at the same time. There are at least a couple of paths
to achieving this goal. One way begins with challenging
students to select and read stories from the MY HERO site in
a particular hero category, such as Peacemakers, and then reflect
on how the stories might affect a change in their school or community. Another
way is to start with a standard and build a lesson that will
incorporate MY HERO content.
Every state has developed standards for reading,
writing, technology use, and performance or presentation skills.
Particular standards can be be identified and applied to assignments
as they are developed. For example, the Illinois Learning
Standard for English Language Arts for late elementary students
expects that students will meet three standards:
* A. Apply
word analysis and vocabulary skills to comprehend selections.
* B. Apply
reading strategies to improve understanding and fluency.
* C. Comprehend
a broad range of reading materials.
By reading MY HERO stories, reflecting on the lessons
in the stories and applying student ideas to personal and local
situations, these standards can be met.
When teachers ask students to select a hero and
write about him or her, research, writing, and revision activities
address standards. For example, Grade 5 English Language
Arts Standards for Writing in California include Writing Strategies:
Evaluation and Revision: 1.6: Edit and revise manuscripts
to improve the meaning and focus of writing by adding, deleting,
consolidating, clarifying, and rearranging words and sentences.
These writing activities would be undertaken before
student work was approved for posting on the MY HERO Web site--adding
another dimension to the writing: publishing to a wide audience. Research
shows that students pay more attention to the quality of their
written work when they know it will be available to online readers
around the world.
In Texas, Social Studies Essential Knowledge and
Skills (TEKS) for Grade 3 in History include a requirement that "the
student understands how individuals, events, and ideas have influenced
the history of various communities," and "can identify individuals
such as Pierre-Charles L'Enfant who have helped to shape communities." When
students write about individuals they know or find out have been
important to the area in which they live, they will have created
hero stories to satisfy this standard as well as generated interesting
local information to include on the MY HERO Web site.
Alaska's performance standard for Skills for Healthy
Life in ages 15-18, Content Standard D suggests that "a student
should be able to contribute to the well-being of families and
communities." The standards document includes several parts,
and states that "a student who meets the content standard should:
4. identify and evaluate the roles and influences
of public and private organizations that contribute to the well-being
6. use various methods of communication to
promote community well-being." Students who develop stories
of local heroes who have made a difference in their communities
that would be published on MY HERO address these criteria.
The wider challenge that "students locate, select,
and synthesize information from a variety of texts, media, references,
and technological sources to acquire and communicate knowledge" required
of 5 th graders in Louisiana's English Language Arts standards
includes competency in writing, researching, and using technological
tools. Preparing MY HERO stories allows students to participate
in all these activities.
Finally, by challenging students to locate heroes
on the MY HERO Web site that are of interest and read their stories,
standards such as North Carolina's Grade 11 Information Skills
Competency Goal 3: "The learner will relate ideas and information
to life experiences" can be met in an interesting and engaging
way. Students can then extend their understanding by writing
about their own heroes and posting the stories on the MY HERO
Standards in reading, writing, research, presentation,
technology, social studies, and life skills can be addressed
by having students read MY HERO stories, research their own heroes,
write their stories, and share their ideas with the world.
(For State Standards, along with links to resources
on curriculum areas, famous people, and current events, visit
netTrekker at http://standards.nettrekker.com/subject/?standards=1).