A Panel of Survivors

Social Studies Activity

Survival stories, whether about real people or fictional characters, are popular because they're the stuff that daydreams are made of. Students will find out about some heroic figures and what they have in common with one another and with themselves by role-playing real-life survivors in a panel discussion.



  1. Ask students to think about heroic figures they know and particularly admire. They should be people who survived great difficulties. The hardships they faced may have been physical (such as illness or disability), economic (such as poverty), social (such as prejudice), or the result of an emergency situation (such as flood, fire, or accident). The survivors can be biographical figures, contemporary figures whose exploits have been described in newspapers or other media, or a friend or family member. Lead the discussion to a consideration of the qualities these people have in common -- qualities that may have helped them survive.

  2. Ask students to chose one such survivor and imagine themselves as that person. Have them immerse themselves in the facts of the person's life by reading his or her mini-biography or researching other examples of heroic figures, using encyclopedias and/or other reference sources.

  3. Set up a series of panel discussions for a 15-minute "radio" (audio tape) or "television" (video camera) broadcast. Each panel should consist of a moderator and at least three "survivors."

  4. After announcing the line-up for each panel, ask other students to think of questions they would like to ask the figures on each panel.

  5. As each panel appears, the moderator asks the survivors as many questions as time allows.


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