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Owen Cooper (1908-1986): Business Leader and Humanitarian lesson plan

OVERVIEW

While today’s young people might not include him on their list of the RICH AND FAMOUS, the name of Owen Cooper would be recognized by persons both inside and outside Mississippi for his many contributions to the economic, social, and spiritual well-being of many people. In this article, students will learn about his life, his work, and his legacy.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3, and 4.

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 4 (with modifications) through 12.

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article: Owen Cooper: Business Leader and Humanitarian

Construction paper

Markers

OBJECTIVES

Students will:

determine what it means to be a “humanitarian;”

list economic and social problems of early 20th century Mississippians;

cite solutions to these problems which were designed by Mr. Cooper;

list qualities/characteristics that might enable a person to be a humanitarian;

write a brief essay evaluating Mr. Cooper’s description as a “humanitarian” and their own opportunities to help solve problems.

OPENING THE LESSON

Students are probably more familiar with the term “famous” than they are with the concept of humanitarianism. Let them talk about some “famous” people they know about. Lead them to explain what makes a person “famous.” Then, ask them to respond to the term HUMANITARIAN written on the board. Encourage the students to break the word into parts to try to determine a meaning. Ask them to write a meaning in their notes, share it with a partner, check in a dictionary, discuss it with the whole class, and reach consensus regarding the appropriate definition of the term. Let them discuss differences between being “famous” and being known as a “humanitarian.”

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

Ask students to draw a simple outline sketch of a human body on a piece of construction paper and to write inside the body characteristics they would expect a humanitarian to possess. Have students share their responses with the entire class as teacher lists them on the board. Students may wish to add additional characteristics to their drawing as the discussion continues.

2.

Tell the students that Owen Cooper, who lived from 1908-1986 in Mississippi, is known as a “humanitarian.” Lead students to think about that time period in Mississippi’s history and to write down some issues facing the state during that time.

3.

As students read the Mississippi History Now article, they will list, in chart form, the issues the author mentions and will compare their previous responses. Working in groups, students will peruse the article again to find the solutions offered by Mr. Cooper. They will discuss the solutions and add them to their charts.

4.

Still in groups, students will sketch another human body outline on the opposite side of their construction paper and will write in characteristics possessed by Mr. Cooper that helped him to become a “humanitarian.” Let a representative from each group write their answers on an overhead transparency or on the board so that students may respond. (Teacher should lead students in understanding Mr. Cooper’s role in leading Mississippians to work cooperatively to solve problems.)

CONCLUDING THE LESSON

1.

Students will compare/contrast the characteristics listed on both sides of their construction paper. Ask them privately to draw another outline on their own paper and to list any of the characteristics they share in common with Mr. Cooper.

2.

Ask students to write an essay evaluating why Mr. Cooper is referred to as a “humanitarian.” (Teacher may wish to assign a certain number of supporting statements.) Encourage students to seriously consider ways they could be useful to humanity and to add these thoughts to their papers.

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

1.

Completion of chart

2.

Small and large group participation

3.

Essay

EXTENDING THE LESSON

1.

Students may wish to determine if any family members participate in the insurance programs mentioned in the article. By contacting the insurance companies or speaking with local representatives, it might be possible for the students to get exact numbers of Mississippians covered by the companies. This could lead to a discussion of the tremendous impact ONE humanitarian can make.

2.

By completing a decorated time-line of Mr. Cooper’s life, students will easily see his many contributions.

3.

Students may wish to think about these questions: “Are all famous people humanitarians?” “Are all humanitarians famous?”

4.

Ask students to describe any “humanitarians” they know.

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