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Historical Voices

Seasons of Service/ Public Service Gallery – Historical Voices

Seasons of Service/ Public Service Gallery – Historical Voices
Subjects: US History, English, American Government, Civics, Humanities
Grades: 9-12

Massachusetts United States Government 5.1, 5.5 & 5.6

  • Explain the meaning and responsibilities of citizenship in US and Massachusetts
  • Identify and explain the meaning and importance of civic dispositions or virtues that contribute to the preservation and improvement of civil society.
  • Identify specific ways for individuals to serve their communities and participate responsibly in their society.

Boston Learning Standards History and Social Studies

  • Examine events and people given norms and values of the time.
  • Engage in historical and social issue analysis and decision making.
  • Understand and express different points of view.
  • Conduct historical and social studies research.


  • Computer and headphones for each students
  • Computer and LCD projector for teacher
  • Assignment sheet and quote list
  • Big paper for quote mural
  • Marker/colored pencils
  • Hat


Essay Contest – Define public service and write about a public servant you admire. After exploring the role of public servants in today’s society introduce essay contest. Review writing process. Introduce students to Historical Voices Site and then the Public Service Gallery for Seasons of Service– listen to a selection of speeches and allow students to explore site prior to beginning the assignment.


As a prewriting activity for the essay have students listen to Ralph Nader, MLK and Eleanor Roosevelt. Instruct students to select 5 quotes about or related to public service and type and print out. Place quotes all in a hat and try and identify who said the quotes in a team competition.

Divide students into groups to develop quotes murals. The murals can include quotes from the web site or from the class readings. Murals should provide illustrations related to quotes and public service actions.

Students finish with a gallery tour of the murals.

Students will choose three quotes to include in their essay.


  • To inspire the writing process
  • To offer a prewriting activity
  • To expand student’s understanding of public service
  • To analyze primary sources
  • To develop historical perspectives
  • To understand a variety of points of view
  • To enhance understanding of quotations by hearing it in context


Student’s essay will be more powerful w/ primary sources included. Students will have a fuller engagement in the writing process with this prewriting activity. Students will develop a greater appreciation of and commitment to public service.


Excellent tool for prewriting activity. We completed activity in time to begin a conversation about possible definitions of public service and to brainstorm possible public servants they could focus on. Next year I will not introduce the ‘game’ portion of the activity until the students have selected their quotes. Many of the quotes were hastily selected and did not meet the criteria or were copied incorrectly. The students proved not as able to identify the speakers because they had not listened as carefully to the speakers. Next year I will book two days in the lab. The first day I would introduce the writing assignment and the site. I would introduce the prewriting activity and offer an example that met the criteria. I would finish the class by having students share quotes and then work in pairs to develop definition of public service. I believe this will allow the students more time to focus on the meaning of the speaker’s words. Then we would move on to the murals and gallery tours.