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
  • stand up for people who are not able to stand up for themselves
  • recognize what bullying is and is not
Middle and High SchoolLanguage Arts

One to Two Class Sessions

Medal of Honor Focus: Arthur J. Jackson, U.S. Marine Corps, World War II (Pacific) and Nicholas Oresko, U.S. Army, World War II (Europe). Other Recipients may be used to compare and contrast. 

Introductory Activity:
Start a class discussion by asking the class a few questions:

  • Do they know other students who have been bullied based on size and/or other characteristics?
  • What would it be like for those students to be star athletes, or part of the “cool kids”?
  • What if the popular students were suddenly outcasts? 

Clarify bullying and what it looks like.

Definition: Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

There are many roles that kids can play. Kids can bully others, they can be bullied, or they may witness bullying. When kids are involved in bullying, they often play more than one role. It is important to understand the multiple roles kids play in order to effectively prevent and respond to bullying.

Small Group/Individual Activity:
Students will write a short reflection in response to these questions:

  • What do you think bullying is?
  • Have you been bullied, or do you know someone who has been bullied?
  • What were (are) the circumstances?
  • What could you have done or what can you do to help the person being bullied?

Whole Group 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 videos shown later during the whole group activity below. 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 may 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 videos. If necessary, use a graphic organizer and pause during the video 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 on the board the common characteristics of both heroes. 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.

Reflection assignment, essay

Masking tape, name tags or poster (Jackson’s Brigade/Nick’s Battalion), Arthur Jackson and Nicholas Oresko Living History videos