Students learn that small things can make a big difference and that each of them can impact the world, one person, one family, one community at a time. Hidden heroes are ordinary people who are extraordinary role models. They are people who have much to teach us by the way they lead their lives, consistently doing small positive things that other ordinary people could do in similar circumstances—actions that benefit their own lives and those of others.
Actions Make a Difference
A unit for grades 1/2
In this unit students distinguish between thoughtful and thoughtless actions as a foundation to understanding the concept of a "hidden hero." They examine feelings and consider actions at home, at school and within the community. They learn to be hidden heroes, identify hidden heroes and appreciate the power of kind words and deeds.
Hidden Heroes in Action
A unit for grades 3/4
In this unit students deepen their understanding of hidden heroes by comparing hidden heroes with super heroes and exploring ways hidden heroes solve problems. They learn to assess themselves as hidden heroes and set realistic goals.
Grades 5/6 learning resource
This unit focuses on student self-understanding and the impact of a positive attitude in overcoming adversity and making a difference to others. Students undertake projects to nurture the hidden hero within themselves.
Grades 7/8 learning resource
In this unit students deepen their understanding of self and explore the "ripple effect" of making small personal changes in attitudes and actions. Students write a story to honour a hidden hero.
Our Students’ Hidden Heroes
Stories and pictures created by students from kindergarten to grade 8
Throughout the Our Hidden Heroes program students are asked to write stories about their own hidden heroes. This resource is a collection of such student-generated stories. Each story highlights a relative, friend, teacher, pet or stranger who made a difference in a small way and became a child’s hidden hero. Discussion questions accompany each story.
This resource might be used to illustrate examples of student writing, as a catalyst for class or small group discussions or as independent student reading.
Contributing to Family and Community
The eight lesson in this resource developed by TC² for primary students explores how family and community members help meet one another’s needs. Students analyze sample and actual communities, research community roles through picture books and interviews and identity community roles in a game of charades.
Available as a PDF only.
I Can Make a Difference
The nine challenges in this TC² print publication support primary students in undertaking responsible "social" action – in the home, at school and in the broader community. The first section is on fulfilling one's responsibilities in the face of a problem situation—from assuming one's fair share of household or school chores to welcoming a newcomer from another community or country. The second section focuses on provocative efforts to enhance the community—deciding how to cheer up an elderly person, assembling a care package to support a homeless person and passing along an act of kindness.
Active Citizenship: Student Action Projects
This TC² print resource provides a framework for elementary and secondary teachers to guide students in planning and implementing a social action project. Students learn to clarify the problem, agree on a solution, plan a course of action and implement and evaluate the action.
Caring for Young People’s Rights
The seven challenges in this resource foster understanding of the nature and range of basic human rights and appreciation of the importance of protecting these rights. Human rights are personalized through real-life profiles of young people in a variety of developing countries. Students then translate the shortfalls in these young people's daily lives into statements about the rights to which everyone is entitled in order to enjoy a minimum quality of life. Students assume the role of development director in planning a project to secure the rights of the young people they have been reading about.
The student materials for this publication are available in French.
The Our Hidden Heroes program consists of a unit for each of four grade ranges (1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8). Typically, each unit takes six to eight weeks, although many teachers spread the Our Hidden Heroes lessons and concepts throughout the school year. The Our Hidden Heroes program can be successfully introduced at any grade level.
The Our Hidden Heroes program reflects various Ministry of Education learning outcomes in social studies, language arts and personal planning. School districts in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and western Québec use the program.
The Our Hidden Heroes program consists of core and supplementary resources:
The core program is outlined in teachers' guides containing detailed teaching instructions and blackline masters. Also included are suggestions for assessment for learning, opportunities for differentiation and extension activities.
Each of the four teacher’s guides is accompanied by an online supplement that includes classroom footage of the use of the program with students, student videos telling the stories of hidden heroes discussed in the unit, and other resources that complement the unit.
Complementing the core resources is a print collection of inspiring student-created stories.
Supplementary resources are not explicitly part of the program, but offer teachers additional lessons and strategies to help students learn to make a thoughtful difference in the lives of others.
The Our Hidden Heroes model asks students to redefine their conception of a hero and what a hero does. They learn that making a significant difference doesn’t require them to become a super hero relying on super powers, or a celebrity relying on fame, fortune and good looks. The program challenges the myth of "the one in a million" hero who makes the biggest difference in the world. Rather students learn that millions of hidden heroes—ordinary people consistently doing small, positive things—make differences in their own lives and the lives of others. Through the ripple effect, these small actions can end up having significant consequences. Often the people who benefit most are individuals the hidden hero will never meet. The program motivates students to realize that hidden heroes are found in their families, communities and schools. As a result of the program, many students experience the joy, self-confidence and self-esteem that come from becoming hidden heroes themselves.
Our Hidden Heroes founder, broadcaster and columnist, Bill Robinson, always believed "It’s not the one in a million "heroes" that make the biggest difference in this world, it’s the millions of ordinary hidden heroes, ordinary people who consistently do small positive things that make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others."
In 1975 when he was on air at CKFM Toronto, Bill came off the back of a song called, "Loneliness Can Really Get You Down" and encouraged any of his listeners who were feeling down to take action. "Do something small," he said. "Throw open your windows and clean your house or apartment or better yet, get out the door and go for a walk or go shopping. Just DO something." A depressed sounding man called to say he was going to go for a walk. A few days later, he called back to thank Bill for his support. That walk ignited a series of connections that led to his life taking a 180 degree turn for the better. In turn, that "thank you" gave Bill the support he needed to launch his Hidden Heroes series of radio programs.
In 2000, Bill launched a Hidden Heroes newspaper column in the mid-Vancouver Island region and later an island-wide television feature. In 2001, the column gave birth to the Our Hidden Heroes program as Bill introduced a version to 20 teachers in School District 68 (Nanaimo, BC). With the help of teachers Kirsten Verhoeven, Laura Harrison and Terri Zolob and financial support from School District 68, the program expanded to grades one through eight. The program helps teachers build students’ self-confidence and self-esteem while activating students’ desire and ability to make a difference.
In 2011, The Critical Thinking Consortium became involved in the program. TC² is extending the program’s recognized strengths by enriching the critical thinking components, adding to the teaching resources and expanding the program’s reach though the TC² workshop network.
People are so on fire after this morning and they want you to come again this summer. We [are preparing] critical challenges with criteria for each grade K through 7. You have converts!
I am impressed by both the educational quality and the motivational spirit of the Our Hidden Heroes program... I would like to see Our Hidden Heroes integrated into classrooms across the province.
I’ve learned that when someone changes their behavior for the better it has a BIG impact on others and it will change you too.
It is an easy program to implement. Kids wanted to complete more stories and spend more time talking about their heroes. It is not often that kids ask to do "work" but they wanted to finish their assignments.
Kyle has become more helpful at home... He is cooperative with his friends and shows compassion when playing.
I have been teaching the intermediate grades for more than 30 years, yet this program excites me. The approach is unique and the need is great.
... the Hidden Heroes program has had a very positive impact upon the learning opportunities that have been provided to the students in School District 68.