For Educators

Altruism: Meeting Society’s Needs – Procedures For Teachers

PrepPreparing for the lesson
StepsConducting the lesson
ExtensionAdditional Activities


Prep

Media Components

Computer Resources:

  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above. Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
  • RealPlayer
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher. Download the free Adobe Acrobat reader here: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.

Bookmarked sites:

TIP: Prior to teaching, bookmark all of the Web sites used in the lesson and create a word processing document listing all of the links. Preview all sites and videos before presenting them to the class.

RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY Web sites:

Other sites:

  • Human Rights 101
    http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/hr101
    This site offers a list of human rights organizations in the New York metropolitan area.
  • Disability Related Organizations
    http://www.access-board.gov/links/disability.htm
    This site offers a list of organizations that provide services and advocacy for people with disabilities.
  • Share Our Strength
    http://www.strength.org/
    This is the official site of Share Our Strength, Bill Shore’s organization, which helps to fight hunger.
  • Habitat for Humanity
    http://www.habitat.org/
    This is the official site of Habitat for Humanity, the house-building organization founded by Jimmy Carter.
  • The Hunger Project
    http://www.thp.org/
    This is the official site for The Hunger Project, which aims to end world hunger.
  • City Harvest
    www.cityharvest.org/
    This is the official site of City Harvest, a nonprofit organization that picks up excess food from restaurants, caterers, cafeterias, and other suppliers and delivers it to those in need.
  • America’s Second Harvest
    http://www.secondharvest.org
    This is the official site of America’s Second Harvest, a nationwide food distribution network.
  • The Hospice Foundation of America
    http://www.hospicefoundation.org/
    This site offers information about a not-for-profit organization that promotes and supports the development of hospice services and the hospice philosophy of care.
  • ZOOM INTO ACTION
    http://pbskids.org/zoom/action/
    From this site, kids can learn about community service opportunities and can share their stories about helping those in need.

Materials:

Teachers will need the following supplies:

  • Board and/or chart paper
  • Ideally, a screen on which to project the Web-based video clips
  • Handouts of Web resources if computers are not available in the classroom

Students will need the following supplies:

  • computers with the capacities indicated above
  • notebook or journal
  • pens/pencils


Steps

Introductory Activity: Looking at Needs

  • To begin, ask students to make a concept map around the idea of needs. On chart paper, write the word needs. Ask students to think about things that all people need and call them out as they come to mind.
  • Write students’ responses on the chart, grouping them as you write. One way to group needs is to follow the categories developed by Abraham Maslow: survival needs (e.g., food, medical care), security needs (e.g., safety from crime, a positive bank balance), belonging needs (e.g., friends, family, a loving partner), esteem needs (e.g., dignity, recognition) and self-actualization or fulfillment needs (e.g., spirituality, artistic expression). Alternatively, you might ask students for suggestions as to how to group needs as you write. You might come up with categories as simple as “tangible” and “intangible,” or “physical” and “emotional.”
  • Students may focus initially on the more tangible needs. If they do, steer them to consider the intangible needs, which are as compelling or even more compelling than the tangible ones — as when, for instance, a person takes a dangerous physical risk rather than lose face with peers. Note that in this instance, a person may be prioritizing the need for acceptance above the need for safety.
  • It is sometimes helpful in these discussions to have students look at the difference between “needs” and “wants.” This can be done by taking a couple of minutes for them to list things that they or their peers might want, but which they certainly do not need. They might then look briefly at things that come close to the line that separates wants from needs. For example, at what point does one begin to “need” new shoes, or “need” to be looked up to by friends?
  • When students have generated as many ideas as they can, review the concept map and point out that you will be looking at how people help others whose needs are not being met. Ask students why you might risk or give up something that is important to you in order to help meet others’ needs. Introduce the term altruism and discuss it. Use the following definition, or have students research the definition themselves. (Two good reference sites are http://www.bartleby.com and http://www.onelook.com)

Definition: Altruism is a willingness to give something of oneself in order to help others. In altruism acts are not performed with the expectation of getting something in return.


Learning Activities

Activity 1: Organized Efforts

1. After discussing altruism, have students break into small groups to read and view (where video is available) the following bookmarked RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY segments. Introduce the segments by pointing out also that they portray organizations that are set up to minister to the needy. Ask students to pay particular attention to what needs and whose needs are being met.

2. After students have viewed/read the segments, ask them to take a minute to free-write any thoughts and reactions and then, remaining in their groups, to discuss one of the two segments (by choice or by assignment), using the guiding questions on Student Handouts A and B. Follow the small-group discussions with a whole-class discussion of both segments.

In discussing these segments and needs in general, be sure to talk not only about the needs of those receiving help, but also about how the needs of the givers are served. What do the givers get out of helping others? Do we have a basic need to help others?

3. Divide students into pairs and distribute the Organization Research Handout. Ask the students to work together to research organizations in their own communities that are set up specifically to serve the needy.

Each pair of students should use the organizer to generate a list of at least five organizations, noting the organization’s name, whom they serve, what needs they provide for, and how they operate. Explain that they will later report in depth on one of these organizations. Suggest that kids get started by going to:

    ZOOM INTO ACTION
    http://pbskids.org/zoom/action/
    From this site, kids can learn about community service opportunities in New York City and can share their stories about helping those in need.

You may also want to refer students to the following sites:

    Disability Related Organizations
    http://www.access-board.gov/links/disability.htm
    This site offers a list of organizations that provide services and advocacy for people with disabilities.

    Human Rights 101
    http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/hr101
    This site offers a list of human rights organizations in the New York metropolitan area.

    Share Our Strength
    http://www.strength.org/
    This is the official site of Share Our Strength, Bill Shore’s organization, which helps to fight hunger.

    Habitat for Humanity
    http://www.habitat.org/
    This is the official site of Habitat for Humanity, the house-building organization founded by Jimmy Carter.

    The Hunger Project
    http://www.thp.org/
    This is the official site for The Hunger Project, which aims to end world hunger.

    City Harvest
    http://www.cityharvest.org/
    This is the official site of City Harvest, a nonprofit organization that picks up excess food from restaurants, caterers, cafeterias, and other suppliers and delivers it to those in need.

    America’s Second Harvest
    http://www.secondharvest.org
    This is the official site of America’s Second Harvest, a nationwide food distribution network.

    The Hospice Foundation of America
    http://www.hospicefoundation.org/
    This site offers information about a not-for-profit organization that promotes and supports the development of hospice services and the hospice philosophy of care.


Activity 2: Individuals with a Mission

1. Have students break into small groups to read and view (where video is available) the following bookmarked RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY segments. Note that these segments focus on dynamic individuals whose personal passion leads them to develop large-scale efforts to assist others. Again, ask students to pay particular attention to what needs and whose needs are being met.

2. After students have viewed/read the segments, ask them to take a minute to free-write any thoughts and reactions and then, remaining in their groups, to discuss one of the two segments (by choice or by assignment), using the guiding questions on Student Handouts C and D. Follow the small-group discussions with a whole-class discussion of both segments.

3. Ask students to list on the board what personal qualities or desires seem to have led the featured individuals to devote their lives to altruistic work. Then, ask each student to choose one of the words on the board that applies to him/her. Ask the student to write about what would motivate him/her to undertake altruistic work. Students may write in the form of an essay, a story, or a song.


Activity 3: Young People Who Give

1. Divide students into small groups to read and view (where video is available) the following bookmarked RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY segment. Introduce the segment by pointing out also that they portray young people who give of their time and of themselves to support people in the last stages of life. Ask students to pay particular attention to what needs and whose needs are being met.

After students have read the segment, ask them to take a minute to free-write any thoughts and reactions and then, remaining in their groups, to discuss one of the two segments (by choice or by assignment), using the guiding questions on Student Handout E. Follow the small-group discussions with a whole-class discussion of the segment.

In discussing needs in connection with these segments, be sure to talk not only about the needs of those receiving help, but also about how the needs of the givers are served. What do the givers get out of helping others? Is the need to help others different for young people?


Activity 4: Organizations in My Neighborhood

1. Students should then work in pairs or groups of three or four to research and report in depth on one of the organizations in their own community that help those in need. (Students can pick one of the organizations they listed on the Organization Research handout.) Each group should report on one organization, speaking to at least one person there and including, where possible, the organization’s promotional literature or Web site. The Organizational Report Student organizer can help students to complete their reports.


Activity 5: Interviewing Guest Speakers

1. Invite someone from a helping profession or organization to speak to the class about his or her work (paid or volunteer). Sources for speakers include local religious groups and social service organizations. Speakers should plan on a presentation of 5-10 minutes followed by “Q and A”. The tip sheet Interview Planning can be given to students in advance.

2. When your speaker or speakers are scheduled, tell the class who will be coming to speak with them, giving names and a brief summary of their work, and help students develop general questions to ask each speaker. Possible questions are:

  • How do you and/or your organization help people? What human needs do you address?
  • What are some of the challenging issues you deal with?
  • What is it about your work that is rewarding to you?
  • What kinds of social problems do you see in our future?

Presentations can be videotaped or audiotaped. If the speaker is willing, the interview can also be videotaped. Students should write thank-you notes to the speaker.


Culminating Activity: What We Can Do

Students should develop a list of service opportunities for young people in their community, drawn from the research they did in Activity 4. Other sources of information include guidance counselors, local government, churches/temples, and social service organizations.

Service opportunities can then be publicized in a poster campaign. Students can select a project like providing meals for a food pantry, which can be done as a whole-class activity. They also can undertake individual service projects, like working in a soup kitchen.

As part of the project, students can keep journals of their service activities. They may also want to share their experiences with kids in their areas and across the U.S. by explaining what they did on the ZOOM INTO ACTION site (http://pbskids.org/zoom/action/form.html)


Extensions


Kindness Corner:
Set aside a section of the bulletin board where students can post examples of altruism from the news or their own daily lives.

Needs across the Curriculum:
The concept of needs can be applied in many curricular areas, including science, health, social studies and literature. For example, questions that might be addressed include:

  • How do the environments in which plants and animals live serve their needs?
  • How are the actions of characters in fiction motivated by their needs?
  • What needs do societies have, and how do different societies meet those needs?