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People That Change the World - Trading Cards

  • Social History
  • Secondary – Junior

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This lesson focuses on understanding what Margaret Mead meant by her famous quote: "Never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change the world: indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."


The aim of this lesson is to teach the students the following:

  • to be able to research successfully using the Internet establishing authority of source.
  • to be able to define and provide examples of change.
  • to be able to glean important statistics and quotes.
  • to visually present history as a collectible/or work of art.
  • to write an effective paragraph which state opinions clearly.
  • to discuss important issues.


The grade nine curriculum in British Columbia focuses on revolutions and change in North America and Europe. Keeping with this theme, students begin to realize that each citizen has the capacity to exert a positive or negative influence in their world by creating change. The three important concepts that need to be defined are change, citizen, and world. The students will begin to see how these three concepts are interdependent on each other. It is also important to provide the students many examples of individuals whose ideas helped make important revolutions occur. 


Time Allowance:
6-8 hours


Activity One

1. Have students brainstorm the meanings behind the following concepts:

                    CITIZEN    |    WORLD    |    CHANGE

  • Discuss with the students the various uses and associations for each concept.
  • Have students use arrows to illustrate how these three words are related. In pairs, students should explain and justify the placement of their arrows.

2. Explain that throughout history many people in the past have been effective at making positive changes in the world. Have students list three ways this has occurred.

3. Play the Beatle's song "Revolution" (You may wish to have the lyrics on an overhead). 

  • Discuss how these singers revolutionized the music industry and their generation. 
  • Students should brainstorm others who have had the same impact in the entertainment field.

4. The teacher should show examples of protest in current newspapers (usually easy to find). Explain that these, too, are examples of revolutions in today's world. Discuss. Other examples might be the following:

  • current magazines advertisements
  • sample letters to the editor
  • Martin Luther King's speech "I have a dream"
  • Drug awareness posters

5. Students then should be able to brainstorm other ways people can rouse change both positively and negatively within their world. For example: protests, songs, pamphlets, sit-ins, rallies, picket lines, etc. The teacher may want to define words such as lobbyist, civil disobedience, pressure groups.

6. Homework: Students should find an example of words that attempt to change the world, such as pamphlets, posters, or advertisements.

Activity Two

1. Write the Margaret Mead quotation on the board.

"Never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change the world: indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."

Ask the students to provide feedback about what they think this quotation means. Ask them if they think that they could change the world.

  • This could turn into a separate lesson on how to organize a protest of their own to make a difference in their world (home, school, community, city, province, etc. ) 

Note: Prior to this activity, the teacher may wish to show the movie entitled, Moving A Mountain - a documentary about Tianamen Square. Not only does it help develop an appreciation of democracy, but it illustrates a firsthand account of actions that have changed the world.

2. Students should be able to analyze the example they collected for homework in Activity One using Worksheet #1 (below). Discuss the questions when they are done.

3. Using Terry Fox as an example, students will brainstorm the ways a single individual can change the world.

4. Ask students to work in groups to brainstorm other important Canadian citizens who have made changes in the world.

5. The teacher should write a compiled class list of individuals brainstormed by students.

6. Hand out the assignment sheet, Worksheet #2 (below). This assignment outlines the creation of trading cards representing five Canadians (as chosen by students) who have had an impact on the world.

Note: If the students are really stuck choosing five Canadians, you may wish to hand out the compiled list of names found on Worksheet #3 (below) to assist them.

Activity Three

1. Students will work in the library researching information regarding their chosen five Canadians.

2. The teacher-librarian can teach a lesson regarding reliability, authenticity, and authority of Internet sites. This will assist students with choosing correct and relevant information about their individual.

3. Once their rough notes are completed, they can begin to produce their final copies of the trading cards.

Activity Four

1. Students will hand in their finished assignment.

2. Re-write the Margaret Mead quotation on the board.

3. Students should once again reflect on the quotation, and write a properly formatted paragraph "Taking a Stand" on Mead's position using relevant examples, as outlined on Worksheet #4 (below).

4. To finalize the lesson, write the following quote on the board.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Ghandi

Teachers may wish to wrap up this unit by having students create a bumper sticker (for their locker) using the quotation above as a lasting message that every individual has the ability to change the world.

Required Materials:

The students need 5-10 cardboard stock cards cut in the following dimensions: 3.5 cm X 2.5 cm.

The students should have very fine tipped markers, or pencil crayons.
(The students may find it easier to complete their cards using a computer.)

If your school has a laminating machine, it is worthwhile laminating the cards when the students are done.


The students should have access to biographical information regarding famous Canadians. Encourage students to consult libraries, encyclopedias, and the Internet. You can use The Canadian Encyclopedia or The Canadians Biography series