Back to Lessons

Understanding Feature Writing

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School History, Language Arts, World-War-II

Students will:
• Relate the actions of Desmond T. Doss that led to his recognition as a Medal of Honor recipient.
• Find examples of accurate characterization within the written account about Desmond T. Doss,
  as well as the Medal of Honor vignette.
• Transfer the knowledge gained from their reading into a written feature about Desmond Doss.

Medal of Honor Focus: Desmond T. Doss, Private First Class, U.S. Army Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division / World War II

Introductory Activity:
The teacher will ask students to think of a time when they had to show perseverance to face a challenge
that they thought impossible. Examples could be provided, such as learning to play a musical instrument,
honing their skills to compete on a sports team, or passing a difficult math class. Students will be asked
to explain what motivated them to continue their efforts without giving up. After a pair/share activity, volunteers
will discuss their examples with the class.

Students will read the profile and view the vignette of Desmond Doss. The teacher should point out that this
individual showed the character trait of perseverance. The teacher will point out that character traits can be
revealed through a person’s physical appearance, through a person's speech and actions, and through the
perception that others have of this person.

Small Group/ Individual Activity:
Students will be provided a graphic organizer containing the character traits listed below. Ask students to cite
evidence that Desmond T. Doss demonstrated these character traits.

Graphic Organizer

Whole Group Activity:
The teacher will provide large sheets of butcher paper with the following headings: Religious Devotion, Loyalty, Resourcefulness,
Self-Sacrifice, and Perseverance. The group will contribute evidence from their graphic organizers that relates to each trait
listed. The class will discuss what an accurate characterization of Desmond T. Doss should include.

Concluding Activity:
The teacher will show students examples of how a news story about an individual differs from a feature story. The profile
based on Desmond Doss is a news story. Students will use notes from their graphic organizer for a feature story to be
written in the following class.

Participation in class discussions
Completion of graphic organizer with relevant information
Completion of writing feature story/article about Desmond T. Doss

Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. NY: Artisan, 2006.

Extended Activities:
Write a poem about Desmond T. Doss.
Write a Reader’s Theater piece that could be performed about Desmond T. Doss.

Quote: "No matter how difficult it seems at the time, it's easier to do the right thing than spend a lifetime regretting that you didn't." - Richard O'Malley, Marine Corps-Vietnam War

In Their Own Words - Desmond Doss