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CNN Heroes: A note to educators

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(CNN Student News) -- CNN's global initiative "CNN Heroes" is showcasing examples of ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary deeds.

Discussing heroes with students

"CNN Heroes" spotlights and celebrates the very best of humankind. Students will discover the many ways that one person can contribute to society and will come to appreciate their own potential to make a difference in the world.

To help students identify the heroes in their lives, pose the following questions for class discussion:

  1. How do you define the term "hero?"
  2. What adjectives would you use to describe heroes?
  3. Who are some individuals whom you would classify as heroes? Explain why you would assign that label to each person you listed.
  4. How would you define the term "celebrity?" What are the differences and/or similarities between heroes and celebrities? Can celebrities be heroes? Explain.
  5. Do you think that it is important that we have heroes? Why or why not?
  6. How do you think that we should choose our heroes? What criteria should we use?
  7. Do you think that heroes are born or made? Explain.
  8. Do you believe that one person can make a difference in the world? State your rationale.
  9. Who is your hero? How has this person made a difference for the better? Is there a specific event or turning point that motivated your hero to take action?

Nominating categories

CNN will recognize nominees in several categories, including:

  1. Championing Children -- Commitment to the welfare of young people.
  2. Community Crusader -- Creating solutions to a local program or social issue.
  3. Defending the Planet -- Innovative efforts to preserve and protect the environment.
  4. Everyday Superhero -- Spontaneous acts of courage in the face of danger by members of the public.
  5. Medical Marvel -- Dedication to the enhancement of human health.
  6. Protecting the Powerless -- Advancing the cause of human or equal rights.
  7. Young Wonder -- Outstanding achievement by a person 25 and under.

Connections to national standards

The study of heroes can be integrated in a variety of ways across the curriculum, from language arts to civics. You can use this initiative as a vehicle to demonstrate students' skill requirements in writing, critical thinking or character education. Lessons on the subject of heroes meet the following national standards.

IRA/NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts

4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

8. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

The Standards for the English Language Arts ( are published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) (

National Standards for Civics and Government (Grades 9-12)

V. What are the Roles of the Citizen in American Democracy?

• What is citizenship?

• What are the rights of citizens?

• What are the responsibilities of citizens?

• What civic dispositions or traits of private and public character are important to the preservation and improvement of American constitutional democracy?

• How can citizens take part in civic life?

The National Standards for Civics and Government ( are published by the Center for Civic Education (

NCSS National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

Standard I: Culture

• Students will learn about culture and cultural diversity.

• Students will explore the nature of culture and specific aspects of culture, such as language and beliefs, and the influence of those aspects on human behavior.

Standard II: Time, Continuity and Change

• Students will learn about the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

Standard IV: Individual Development and Identity

• Students will explore the influences on individual development and identity, including culture, groups, and institutions.

The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies ( are published by the National Council for Social Studies (

National Science Education Standards

CONTENT STANDARD F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

As a result of activities in grades 9-12 all students should develop an understanding of:

• Personal and community health

• Populations growth

• Natural resources

• Environmental quality

• Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges

The National Science Education Standards ( are published by the National Academies Press (

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