Students will:

  • Develop their understanding of commitment as a valued personal character trait
  • Identify ways that individuals demonstrate commitment and how this commitment is important to others
  • Examine their own lives to identify how they show commitment and understand how it impacts others

60 minutes

Medal of Honor Focus: William Johnston

Materials Needed:

Introductory Activity:
Ask students to create a list of synonyms of commitment.

Read aloud or have students read the “The Story of the Drummer Boy” handout about William “Willie” Johnston. While reading, post the picture of Willie on the board.

Whole Group Activity:
Using the following questions, engage students in a discussion of their observations about Willie, with special attention to his attire, footwear and drum.

  • Willie’s uniform is made out of wool. Have you ever worn anything made of wool? What did it feel like? (Have a sample of wool for students to feel.) What do you think Willie’s uniform felt like?
  • Think about what you might wear for a long walk or hike in the summer. How would your choice of clothing differ from Willie’s uniform and shoes? Why? How would your choice be similar to Willie’s?
  • Look at Willie’s drum. What do you think it was made of? Does it look heavy or light? How would it feel to carry it on a long walk or hike? (If possible, borrow a marching band drum for students to see and hold.) Why do you think other drummer boys abandoned their drums?
  • Why was it so important that Willie kept his drum?
  • How did Willie’s actions within his circumstances show commitment?

Small Group Activity:
Have the students gather in small groups; then, have the groups compare Willie’s story to instances in their school or community where individuals show commitment. Next, have each group share their ideas and examples with the entire class. Challenge students to consider how the commitments of the individuals in the examples impacted others.

Concluding Activity:
Have students write a journal entry about a time they demonstrated commitment and how and why their actions were important to others.

Class Participation