Take Someone to Dinner

My family loves to travel. Well, we like to go places, but we don't necessarily like getting there. My husband and youngest daughter both have very short attention spans and long trips can be a nightmare. However, nothing seems to pass the time for them like word games. They constantly are trying to outdo each other.

Most of the time, their games are pretty simple. For example, one more episode of going through the alphabet, be it with trees, animals (ever heard of the x-ray beast?), movie titles, or songs, and I am going to scream!

But one game they play really got my attention. My daughter asked, "Ok, Dad, if you could take three people to dinner, who would you choose?" I really enjoyed listening to them defend their choices. They also discussed what that person would eat, (and Shakespeare was NOT allowed to eat pizza.) and what sorts of things they would discuss at a dinner table.

The game also got my educational project juices flowing!

With my Web-based version of Take Someone to Dinner students are also encouraged to choose three people. One is a legendary or dramatic figure, such as Shakespeare, Harry Potter, or Joan of Arc. Another one will be a personal hero, such as Daniel Radcliffe (the actor that portrays Harry Potter), Sammy Sosa, or Yuri Gagarin. The last one will be a local hero.

The students will write stories about their three guests. Each story should be done in the five-paragraph essay style (this can be modified for younger students). They should have their resources cited, with a minimum of five resources (at least two of these should be books). The local hero story is a class project that will be turned into a web page, and the link submitted to the "Take Someone to Dinner" project.

With Take Someone to Dinner, you begin with a lesson on research that leads into a lesson on how to write a good story.

The next lesson discusses the heroes from our legends, fables and stories. Children, as well as adults have legendary heroes, or try to emulate the heroes from books and stories. Who doesn't want to be the person "who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits"? But we also need to celebrate the heroes of today, those who are noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose. Students need to understand real heroes because we also tend to celebrate the less noble heroes, those who are merely celebrities.

Last is a lesson on how to make web pages. You will need to know how to make web pages to submit to the project. We have a place to post web pages of the local heroes, as well as a place to post who your personal hero is, and why. We also encourage participants to post what their 'dinner' plans are.

I also wanted to kick this project up a notch and involve the community — or at least allow the students to reach out a bit further than an essay. So, I encourage students, teachers and schools to also have a "Take Someone to Dinner" program where they actually take someone to dinner, perhaps a special dinner for local heroes, such as fireman or policeman, and the proceeds sent to a local charity, or used to buy something for the school. Barring that, they could have a dinner for an imaginary guest, such as General Henry Shelton Sanford (founder of Sanford, Fl who lived in the 1800's).

I came across a couple of ideas that would work well with this project, also. One idea comes from the University of Florida, and is called A Portrait of Your Hero where students create a portrait of someone they consider a personal hero or heroine. I would have the students do this project using the 3 people they have chosen. This means, they will create 3 portraits.

Two other ideas come from Marge Burton, of TEAMS Distance Learning.

Have the students invite their favorite teachers to a special dinner. (This is a great idea for Teacher Appreciation Week!!!). Or, have a dinner or just interview a "Living Hero" This can include teachers, doctors, fireman, a single mother raising a family, or anyone that the students can justify as a "Living Hero."

This project comes complete with lessons on research, heroes, etiquette and how to create web pages. There are also quizzes, discussion boards and the project is aligned with National standards (as well as Sunshine State standards)

And, if anyone out there knows Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), please tell him my daughter wants to take him to dinner.

Take Someone to Dinner Runs August 15-March 15 yearly. You can join onsite, or join with an Email to me.

Email: Rosemary Shaw