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Lesson Plans Library 9-12 > World History
Reform at All Costs image
Reform at All Costs
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: World History Duration: Three class periods

lesson plan support
Students will
  • Define what makes an individual a "visionary."
  • Research a visionary individual from any time or place.
  • Create a presentation explaining the qualities that make this individual a visionary.
  • Reform at All Costs video and VCR, or DVD and DVD player
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Newsprint and markers
  1. Introduce the topic of visionary leaders by showing the videoReform at All Costs. Briefly discuss the accomplishments of Ahkenaten and Peter the Great.

  2. Based on what students saw in the video, ask them to define the qualities of a visionary or inspired leader. Note that the definition of "visionary" has changed over time from someone who may be considered a dreamer with impractical ideas to someone who is seen as an inspired leader with a clear sense of purpose. The students' list of qualities may include

    • Visionary leaders are passionate about their cause.
    • Visionary leaders are determined and single-minded in their efforts to accomplish their goal.
    • Visionary leaders often are ahead of their time.
    • Visionary leaders often change their society permanently.
    • Visionary leaders often explore an area that other people have not yet considered.
  3. Ask students to pick an individual whom they admire as a visionary. The individual can be a political leader, social activist, inventor, scientist, or any type of artist from the past or living in the present. Students will research their selection to develop a presentation including the following:

    • The person's name
    • When and where the person lived (and any other interesting biographical information)
    • The person's accomplishments
    • Why this person is considered a visionary. (Students should refer to the criteria listed by the class.)
  4. If students are having trouble selecting an individual, the following list offers suggestions and related Web sites:

    Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks

    Mahatma Gandhi

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

    Thomas Edison

    Nelson Mandela

    Marie Curie

  5. Give students time in class to complete their research. For homework, have them develop a presentation to share as a PowerPoint, slide show, or transparencies viewed on an overhead projector.

  6. During the next class period, ask students to share their presentations, and then discuss the individuals selected. What makes them visionaries? How did they change their world?

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students were highly engaged in class discussions; researched their individual thoroughly; created an interesting and compelling presentation that included all requested information.
  • Two points:Students participated in class discussions; researched their individual adequately; created a satisfactory presentation that included most of the requested information.
  • One point:Students participated minimally in class discussions; did not complete the research of their individual; did not create a complete presentation with the requested information.

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Definition:A set of shared attitudes, beliefs, and ideas that are passed on from one generation to the next
Context:Many people think that American culture has become too materialistic and that young people are losing sight of the values on which the United States was built.

Definition:Changes made in the hope of correcting wrongs or abuses or as a way to bring new ideas to a culture
Context:Akhenaton's suggestion that Egyptians worship only one god was a reform that most people were not ready to accept.

Definition:Social attitudes and customs that are passed from one generation to the next
Context:Akhenaten and Peter the Great both rebelled against centuries of tradition in their homelands.

Definition:An individual with a clear idea of how to achieve a particular goal
Context:What made Martin Luther King, Jr., a visionary leader was his belief that blacks and whites could live and work together, rather than in two separate and unequal worlds.

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Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • World History: Across the Eras Understands long-term changes and recurring patterns in world history
  • Language Arts: Viewing Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
NCSS has developed national guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of NCSS, or to view the standards online, go to

This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:

  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

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Marilyn Fenichel, education writer and editor

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