What Will Your Legacy Be?

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“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

From Hamilton, the Musical

Typically we don’t think about our legacy until later in life. As we age, we start thinking about how others will remember us after we are gone. Naturally, young people don’t think about this and see themselves as invincible. Because of this, thinking about a personal legacy isn’t something always included in lessons for students. Most of the time when discussing legacies we look at others and the legacy they left behind.

What Will Your Legacy Be is a theme for August, and it is an opportune time to steer students toward thinking about their legacy and how they would like to be remembered. It is a time to reinforce that even their actions as children contribute to their final legacy. More and more educators and students understand the importance of a digital footprint; however, it is also important to recognize that our legacy is more than digital remains. Students need to understand that their legacy includes behaviors on and offline.

Here are some suggestions for guiding students to the legacy they would like to leave behind:

  • Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary (reviewed here) – before considering the legacy you would like to leave behind, it is important to understand the definition of legacy. Share the definition of legacy with your students and discuss the different meanings of the word. Note that this definition separates legacies into two meanings – one is a legacy of consisting of property and money, the other focuses on past behavior and contributions. Use this definition as a perfect introduction to discussions and perspectives of the term legacy and what it means to individual students.
  • The Legacy Project (reviewed here) – this site offers lessons, ideas, and resources for inspiring youth through elder society members to explore the legacies of others and inspiration for considering and implementing individual goals. One of my favorite portions of the site to share with students is the winning stories from their Listen to a Life Contest. These stories share interviews of a young person discussing life experiences with an older family member. Share these stories with students to learn about family memories, experiences, and legacies that will be passed on through many generations. These stories are perfect to use as examples before asking students to interview one of their eldest family members about their memories and what they think will be the legacy they leave behind. If you think students will have trouble accessing family members to interview, consider a visit to a neighborhood senior center or asking seniors to visit your students in the classroom and share their thoughts on their lives.
  • Navajo Code Talkers (reviewed here) – Watch interviews of some of the famous Navajo Code Talkers and their role in World War II. As students watch videos, ask them to consider the legacy these men left behind. Discuss how legacies can be impacted in different ways that you can’t predict.
  • Padlet (reviewed here) – After taking a deep dive into the meaning of legacies, and exploring the legacy of others, it is almost time for students to consider writing about their legacy. Use Padlet, or another online bulletin board, to share ideas and resources for writing about legacies. One unique feature of Padlet is the ability to create columns. Create a column for students to post thoughts to include with their legacy writing (financial goals, character traits, family aspirations, etc.), add other columns to share writing examples, video interviews, or book recommendations.
  • When ready, offer students a variety of ways to share their writing on their legacy. There are many tech tools for sharing writing, here are some ideas to try:
    • Timelinely (reviewed here) – Timelinely includes features to highlight different portions of a YouTube video with comments, pictures, maps, and more. Have students videotape themselves discussing their ideas for their future legacy, then add information to their video sharing additional information. Other ideas are to include screenshots of online work to include as part of their already-created legacy.
    • Plotagon (reviewed here) – create animated videos and emojis with Plotagon. Ask students to share their visions for their legacy using animated characters and scenes. Character voices even sync to the user’s voice in any language.
    • Book Creator (reviewed here) – Book Creator is immensely popular with educators, and for a good reason. Book Creator is easy enough to use across all grade levels, yet offers many features for creating interactive and creative digital books. Have students use this tool to discuss their legacy through images, videos, drawings, and text.
    • Choose Your Own Adventure Story – Really get students thinking by asking them to create a choose your own adventure story about their legacy. Challenge them to consider possible outcomes based on decisions they make throughout life and create an online book. Find directions for using Google Forms here or Microsoft Forms here.

Thinking about your legacy is an important addition to any lesson in character and life skills. Even our youngest students need to be aware that their actions now may impact them later in life. What ideas do you have to get students thinking about their legacy?

 

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About the author: Sharon Hall

Sharon Hall was a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching. With over 15 years of classroom experience as a National Board Certified teacher, Sharon shares her content knowledge and reflections on ideas for basic classroom technology integration with us.


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