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Can an Outcast or Maverick Make a Difference?

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School History, World-War-II

Students will:
• Compare and contrast the characteristics of two different Medal of Honor recipients.
• Debate whether a person’s size or intellect makes a difference in his/her contribution to society.

Medal of Honor Focus:
Arthur J. Jackson, Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division / World War II

Nicholas Oresko, Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 302nd Infantry, 94th Infantry Division / World War II

Introductory Activity:
Ask students if they know other students who have been bullied based on size and other characteristics?
Start a class discussion by asking the class a few questions. What would it be like for those students to be star
athletes or “cool kids?” What if the popular students were suddenly outcasts?

Small Group/Individual Activity:
Use masking tape to place a line down the middle of the classroom. One side is for students who belong to clubs,
sports, enjoy school, and have what they believe are lots of friends. The other side is for students who may not belong
to any school clubs or activities, tend to cause mischief, or who think of themselves as outcasts or different. The teacher
will use quotations from the two vignettes shown later during the whole group activity. The quotations need to be from both
recipients. Students will choose a side based on the quotations with which they personally identify. (Naughty, Not much into
school, etc.) Students who are not sure can stand on the center line. For those having a hard time choosing, students will
be asked to choose a side that best describes a friend. (This is an opportunity to avoid embarrassment or to help speed up
the decision-making process). Once the quotations and directions are read, students will step to the appropriate side of the
room. The teacher may use the students on the line to even out the sides as needed. Give one side of the room the nickname
"Jackson’s Brigade." Let the other side know they are "Nick’s Battalion."

Whole Group Activity:
Students will view both vignettes. If necessary, use a graphic organizer and pause during the vignette to give students a
chance to internalize what they are viewing. After watching these two different types of heroes (with physical and intellectual
differences), students will defend the hero they are representing. The challenge is to decide which story was more amazing
and a greater accomplishment. Each side of the room elects two speakers to represent their groups. Groups can call a
collaboration meeting, as needed, during the debate. The two teams will debate the accomplishments presented in their hero’s
stories, taking into consideration size, situation, help, equipment, and outcome.

Concluding Activity:
Students will list the common characteristics that both heroes have on the board. The entire class will brainstorm other
professionals or individuals they see in society with these same characteristics. Individually, students will write an essay
explaining whether their view of military heroes has changed or whether the typical Hollywood stereotype is valid.


Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. NY: Artisan, 2006.
Roll of Masking Tape; Name Tags or Poster (Jackson’s Brigade / Nick’s Battalion)

In Their Own Words - Arthur Jackson

In Their Own Words - Nicholas Oresko