Maya Lin

How Leaders and Events Shape Communities

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How Leaders and Events Shape Communities

Paige is reluctant to run for class president until a great leader from the past shows her what leadership is all about. Students will be inspired by the everyday heroism that built our country. They will also be introduced to both the well and little known leaders that shaped our nation's growth. As students meet these great leaders they will be able to identify the responsibilities of authority figures in their home, school, and community from the local to the national level.

A look at great leaders in American history who changed events and became part of history and paved the way for new leaders in our country and in the world.

  1. Students will identify the contributions of historical political leaders in the United States.
    1. Benjamin Franklin: A leader in the American colonies who helped convince people to fight for independence from the British in the Revolutionary War. As a Founding Father of our country, he helped write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was a writer, a scientist, a diplomat, a philosopher, and an inventor.
    2. George Washington:A military leader of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War who helped defeat the British army. He was the first president of the United States and united the colonies into one country. He is known as “The Father of Our Country”.
    3. Abraham Lincoln: The 16th President of the United States. He is considered a great leader because of his leadership during the Civil War. He fought to keep the United States together as a country and he freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation.
  2. Students will identify the contributions of historical explorer leaders in the United States.
    1. Daniel Boone: A soldier, hunter and trapper who became a leader by exploring new territory in the United States. He created the Wilderness Trail for settlers to move more easily into the new territory.
    2. Lewis and Clark: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were two explorers who traveled into the territory the United States gained from the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. They also continued on to the Pacific Ocean looking for a waterway from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They spent two years studying and making maps of the new territory. Their exploration helped make it easier for settlers to move into these lands.
    3. Sam Houston: A soldier and a lawyer who settled in Texas and his fight to win independence for Texas from Mexico. He served as president of Texas and helped make Texas become a state in the United States. Houston, Texas, is named after him.
    4. John Glenn: A war pilot who became the first American to orbit the Earth in space in 1962. In 1998 he returned to space becoming the oldest person to go to space! He became a United States senator and continued to be a leader in making laws for the country.
  3. Students will identify the contributions of historical civil rights leaders in the United States.
    1. Sojourner Truth: A woman who was born a slave. She spoke all over the country as part of the abolitionist movement to end slavery in the United States. She helped black soldiers during the Civil War. After the war she worked for getting newly freed slaves work and getting them land in the West. She was a great leader because her ideas were not popular but she spoke out for what she believed in and influenced others to do the same.
    2. Chief Joseph: Nez Perce Indian tribe chief who stood up for his people to try and stay on their traditional lands instead of being forced onto reservations.
    3. Mary McLeod Bethune: A leader for women and African Americans. She was a teacher, president of a college, and consultant to the United States government. She was vice-president of the National Council of Negro Women
    4. Cesar Chavez: A Mexican-American leader born raised on migrant farm camp in Arizona. He worked to promote fair working conditions for migrant farmworkers by organizing the Farm Workers Union.
    5. Medgar Evers: An African-American civil rights leader who worked for the NAACP. He tried to work through the legal system to end segregation and change the way black people were treated in Mississippi and the South. A person that did not agree with his work for civil rights assassinated him. He was a great leader because his ideas were not popular but he spoke out for what he believed in and influenced others to do the same.
    6. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Two ordinary women who became leaders in the Women’s Suffrage movement. They worked together for 50 years to get the right to vote for women by giving speeches asking the government to change the law. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote.
  4. Students will identify the contributions leaders who volunteer to help people.
    1. Clara Barton: A teacher and volunteer who helped soldiers during the Civil War. She opened hospitals and created the American Red Cross, a service organization that helps people affected by war or natural disasters, that still operates today.
    2. Mother Theresa: A nun who dedicated her life to helping the sick and poor in Calcutta, India. She inspired many people to come and help her and she created the Missionaries of Charity organization for volunteers. She was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work helping the sick and the poor.
  5. Students will identify the contributions leaders in business and invention.
    1. Henry Ford: A machinist and engineer who built the first automobile. He developed assembly line production so cars could be built quickly at his Ford Motor Company. His company was very successful and automobiles changed life in the United States and the World.
    2. Thomas Edison: An experimenter and inventor from a young age, he invented the light bulb and the phonograph. His inventions changed the way we people lived all over the world. Many of his inventions we still use everyday.
    3. Maya Lin: An architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
  6. Students will identify the contributions of individuals and groups living in their community.
  7. Students will identify current leaders in states, communities, and nations.

  1. Leaders in your community. Ask students to brainstorm who in their community they would identify as a leader and how that person has contributed to the community. If they choose a historical figure, have students do research at the local historical society or library. If the leader is living, have students interview him/her or interview people who know him/her. Ask students to prepare a brief oral report to present to the class.
  2. Thinking forward. After viewing the video, ask students to think about how they could contribute to their community, state, or nation. How can they change the world? Ask students to write a story, newspaper article, or a formulated plan describing how they have/will make a difference.