Lesson Plan

Who is your favorite American Who Tells the Truth?

In depth exploration of an American Who Tells the Truth portrait subject – background, motivation, and actions.


In Depth Exploration of Americans Who Tell the Truth Portrait Subject

Reading Assignment:

Rob Shetterly’s Blog: Some Reflections on the Portrait Exhibit at Syracuse University 

Essential Question:

What drives a person to act for the common good?

Lesson Description:

Choose one AWTT portrait subject and learn about the subject’s issue, actions, challenges, moments of inspiration, and accomplishments.  Why do you think this person is a Truth Teller?


Your Truth Teller: _____________________________________

  1. In a sentence, describe your Truth Teller’s issue.(Ex.: Diane Wilson fought to improve environmental conditions and the health of people’s lives in her coastal Texas county.)
  2. Describe one thing that happened that made your Truth Teller care about this issue. (Ex.:  Diane Wilson learned that she lived in the most polluted county in the United States because she looked into why many of the shrimp she was catching were dead.)
  3. Describe one thing that your Truth Teller did to address this issue.  (Ex.: Diane Wilson chained herself to the tower of Dow Chemical to create awareness of their chemical discharge into the environment.)
  4. Describe the moment that caused your Truth Teller to take action about this issue.  (Example:  Diane Wilson was fishing off her boat in the Gulf of Mexico and she pulled up a net full of half dead shrimp.  It was this moment that moved her to go explore what was going on with her waters and what was causing many of her nets to pull up dead shrimp.)
  5. Describe two hardships your person had to overcome in the struggle for this cause. (Example:  During Diane Wilson’s struggle for justice in her small town in Texas, people tried to intimidate her in numerous ways– someone shot and killed her dog, someone tried to sink her boat, and she was arrested and jailed all for speaking out against large companies who were destroying her town’s people and environment.)
  6. What or who is different because of your Truth Teller’s actions?  (Example:  In Diane Wilson’s town people are no longer contracting cancer at an unusually high rate, shrimpers are able to make a living by hauling and selling healthy, living shrimp, and Formosa Plastics, Dow Chemical and Alcoa have changed their environmental processes.)

Discussion/Suggested Lesson Expansion:

In small groups, share the story of your truth teller and what you think motivated him/her to act. Return to the classroom group and create a list of “motivations” as a visual reminder to call students to action.

Bring Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) original portraits to your community.