Peaceful Heroes

In this lesson students will research a peaceful hero and then share what they learned. This activity helps students discover the tools and the heart they need to build a more peaceful world.
Grade Level

This activity helps students discover the tools and the heart they need to build a more peaceful world. For each student, you will need a piece of 12x18-inch manila drawing paper, colored pencils and a black marker or felt-tip pen.

Post and discuss the following essential questions:

  • What does “the common good” mean, and why does understanding it matter?
  • Why serve? How far am I willing to go to make a difference?


Whole-Group Activity

As a class, create a large Frayer diagram for the term “common good.” Write a working definition, characteristics, examples and non-examples for it. Next, using resources in your classroom, choose a “peaceful hero”—someone who stood up against injustice with nonviolence. I usually choose Oscar Romero. Read aloud information about your peaceful hero.

Model the steps below for participating in a “Nonfiction Marathon.”
1. Fold the manila drawing paper in half lengthwise and then in thirds the other way. You should have six square boxes on the paper after the fold.
2. In the first box, have students draw book covers (with their byline) about the peaceful hero you chose.
3. In the second box, have students write a list of questions they have about your peaceful hero.
4. In the third box, ask students to draw an illustration with a caption about your peaceful hero.
5. In the fourth box, have students write any interesting or new vocabulary they encountered while learning about your peaceful hero.
6. In the fifth box, ask students to create a diagram, chart, map, graph or timeline with facts about your peaceful hero.
7. In the sixth box, have students list important facts they learned about your peaceful hero.


Small-Group/Independent Work

Ask students to choose their own peaceful heroes. Set a timer for 10-minute intervals, and direct students to complete each step of the “Nonfiction Marathon.” Walk around the room discussing students’ thoughts with them as they work.


Author’s Chair

Allow students to share their work with the class. Revisit the essential questions during their presentations. How did the peaceful hero understand the common good? Why did the hero serve? How far was the hero willing to go to make a difference? How can the student become a peaceful hero?

Trevor Scott Barton
Berea Elementary School
Greenville, S.C.


Activities address the following standards using the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts: CCSS W.3.2, W.4.2, W.5.2

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