© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
 
Teaching Guide

Teaching The Red Badge of Courage

Earn your medal of Shmooper.

GO TO STUDENT LEARNING GUIDE

We're not gonna lie: this one can bring out the snoozes in students. But we've got you covered.

In this guide you won't find a field medic kit, but you will find

  • an activity for students to recreate the diary of a soldier (wimpy or not).
  • pop culture connections to other Civil War dramas, like Glory and The Civil War: The Musical!
  • historical resources including Civil War statistics among others.

And much more.

Let's have a civil discussion with this teaching guide leading the charge, shall we?

What's Inside Shmoop's Literature Teaching Guides

Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring literature to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.

With your purchase, you'll get unlimited access for 12 months. And if you like what you see, you can subscribe to all 200+ Teaching Guides for just $19.84/month.

Instructions for You

Objective: When asked who their heroes are, most teenagers will name famous athletes, singers, or actors. Typical hero worship begins because cool people can run fast, throw a ball, sing a tune, or act out a great death scene. For all this and more, they make a lot of money while the rest of us can only hope to live that dream. Henry comes to the battlefield a scared boy but leaves a hero. Putting his life on the line to capture a flag earned him this title. This activity will showcase the true qualities of a hero (and being rich and famous has nothing to do with it) while delving into themes like courage and duty.

This lesson should take about two class periods.

Materials Needed:

  • Internet access
  • A printer
  • A computer/projector to show video clips
  • Copies of the novel

Step 1: Ask your students who they idolize and watch their hands fly up in the air. If you have typical teenagers in your class, they are bound to list famous people. Most teenagers want to have the chops like Beyonce or the moves like LeBron James (can you blame them?). 

Step 2: Steer the discussion to the true qualities of a hero. You know, people who put others before themselves, put the needs of the group before their own, see someone with a need and doing something to help; basically, people who don't believe the world revolves around them. Show your students the following clip to drive your point home:

  • What is the heaviest thing you have lifted? Well, these people lifted a car. That was on fire. Here is a 42 second clip of bystanders lifting a burning car to save a motorcyclist trapped underneath. You will have to first sit through a 10 second commercial, but deal with it. It's free.

Step 3: Now it's time for students to find an everyday hero, not a famous athlete, singer, or actor. This should only take 30 minutes. Luckily, many heroes are just a click away in People magazine located in a section called "Heroes Among Us." Students should choose an article and print it.

Step 4: Students should read their article and be prepared to give a one minute presentation on what makes this person a hero. The basic who, what, when, where and why should be answered. What heroic qualities does this person exhibit? Why do they believe this person is a hero? Students should take short notes on one another's presentations so that they can vote on who is The Biggest Hero, just like The Biggest Loser but without the trip to the scale.

Step 5: Voting time: use ballots, a show of hands, or maybe just applause. Who is The Biggest Hero? Wrap it up by discussing the true characteristics of heroism:

  • Who did you vote for and why? What made that person stand out as the biggest hero?
  • What qualities are most important in a hero?
  • Do you think there are different kinds of heroism?
  • How is heroism related to courage and fear?
  • How is heroism related to duty?
  • Can a hero still be flawed? Are there any flaws that would make someone ineligible for hero status?
  • What argument do you think the novel makes about heroism?
  • Do you think Henry is a hero? What qualities of heroism does he exhibit? What about his moments of weakness?

Instructions for Your Students

Hero worship is all over the place; we can't seem to get away from it. Actors, athletes and singers just seem to fascinate people. Maybe it's because they are living their dreams and raking in the cold hard cash by the truck loads. Why are they considered heroes in the eyes of their fans? Surprisingly, Henry Fleming was a hero by the end of the war. Seriously, who would have thought that this kid could do something great? This activity will help you decide what makes a true hero while delving into themes like courage and duty. Heroes are everywhere. Who knows, your next-door neighbor may have saved the world from a nuclear disaster.

Step 1: Who are your heroes? Jot down a list of people you see as heroes, and then dig deep and write about why these people are heroes. Just so you know singing, dancing, hitting a ball, shooting a basket, and memorizing lines for a movie should not be on the list. Are you stumped?

Step 2: Consider this amazing idea: Heroes put others before themselves, or they put the needs of the group before their own. In a nutshell, they see someone with a need and they do something to help. Basically, they don't see themselves as number 1, 2 or even number 3. They put themselves dead last and do what needs to be done for everyone else.

Take some time to look at these heroes:

  • What is the heaviest thing you have lifted? Well, these people lifted a car. That was on fire. Here is a 42 second clip of bystanders lifting a burning car to save a motorcyclist trapped underneath. You will have to first sit through a 10 second commercial, but deal with it. It's free.

Step 3: Time to find your own hero. Spend about thirty minutes finding an everyday hero, which means an ordinary person without a huge bank account. Click away in the "Heroes Among Us" section of People magazine. Pick one that dazzles you, print it, and read it.

Step 4: Now you'll spend one minute bragging about your hero to the rest of the class. Your job is to convince your classmates that your hero is the best hero. Be sure to tell them the following:

  • Who is this person/group?
  • What did he/she/they do?
  • When did this happen?
  • Where did this happen?
  • Why did he/she/they do this?
  • Why do you believe he/she/they are a hero?

When you are not presenting, take a few notes on the other heroes. Don't worry, your hand doesn't have to cramp up, but take enough notes so that you can vote on who The Biggest Hero is. Warning, you will hear about some amazing people; it will be a tough decision. May the best hero win.

Step 5: Voting time: Who is The Biggest Hero? What did you learn about the true characteristics of heroism?

  • Who did you vote for and why? What made that person stand out as the biggest hero?
  • What qualities are most important in a hero?
  • Do you think there are different kinds of heroism?
  • How is heroism related to courage and fear?
  • How is heroism related to duty?
  • Can a hero still be flawed? Are there any flaws that would make someone ineligible for hero status?
  • What argument do you think the novel makes about heroism?
  • Do you think Henry is a hero? What qualities of heroism does he exhibit? What about his moments of weakness?

WANT MORE HELP TEACHING THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE?

Check out all the different parts of our corresponding learning guide.

Intro    Summary    Themes    Quotes    Characters    Analysis    Questions    Quizzes    Flashcards    Best of the Web    Write Essay    
back to top