#3 How Do I Make It about More than Myself?

How can you and your community take it from "I" to "we"?
Help your users think of themselves as part of something bigger. Can you expand the network of engagement for yourself and your users by actively rewarding authenticity, accuracy, truth-telling, and bridge-building across social divides?

What It Can Look Like?

New Organizing Institute: Marshall Ganz's organizing theory invites people into a movement as individuals, where they are asked to share their stories and connection to the cause. Then, the strategy helps them see their shared collective interests with others in the movement before introducing them to the fierce urgency of acting now. This principle is the bedrock of numerous campaigns since Obama for America popularized the model in the 2008 presidential election. Participants are asked to become part of something major and give more of themselves as a result.

Unsung Women Change Agents*

Eliza BriggsGrace Lee Boggsharriet_hanson_robinson

"The Ten Questions are not just an add-on to my project. They bring in a new critical lens through which my students can read the historical figures and events from a participatory democracy outlook." – Sohyun An

Sohyun An, associate professor of education at Kennesaw State University, teaches an elementary social studies methods course. She applies the Ten Questions in a class project in which elementary preservice teachers research and an act out the lives of influential but unrecognized female activists in a role play called Unsung Women Change Agents.  

Despite persistent marginalization and disenfranchisement throughout American history, women have bravely stood up against those patriarchal forces to fight for their vision of a more just world. But for every Rosa Parks or Susan B. Anthony, many, many more activists remain relatively unknown, left out of school textbooks and lost to public memory. In An’s class, preservice teachers explore the forgotten stories of the women who have sparked social change in America. Using the Ten Questions, preservice teachers identified such a female change makers and wrote narratives about their life and civic efforts. One day in March, participants threw a tea party in which they role played their selected change makers based on these narratives. See the original description of the project here.

In 2017, KSU preservice teachers wrote about a wide range of women from throughout American history who pushed for a number of different of causes, like Grace Lee Boggs, Lee Miller, Helen Keller, Lillian Smith, Eliza Briggs, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Bella Savitsky Abzug. Their narratives were introduced in student-made  brochures based on the Ten Questions.  

KSU Preservice Teachers

What made An adopt the Ten Questions framework for her project? An has been avoiding a superhero-centered approach to history education, especially at the elementary level. She says the Ten Question framework allows her to explore civic activists without falling into hero worship. “[The] Ten Questions are not just an add-on to my project,” she said, “but they bring in a critical lens through which my students can analyze the historical figures from a participatory democracy outlook. Our democracy is not built on the epics of a few superheroes but on the sacrifice and collective efforts made by a great number of ordinary citizens. The latter is as important as – sometimes more important than – the former.”   See the student projects here.

*The original post about this lesson idea is found here: "Unsung Women Change Agents."

Teachers can use the Ten Questions Content Organizer to parse a big issue into small discussion topics. Have students fill in the blanks; they can think about the choices they would make and why, and what the consequences would be like. See an example here: "Facing History with the YPP Action Framework––Focusing on Eyes on the Prize: Ain’t Scared of Your Jails






1. Why Does It Matter to Me?


2. How Much Should I Share?


3. How Do I Make It About More than Myself?


4. Where Do We Start?


5. How Can We Make It Easy and Engaging?


6. How Do You Get Wisdom from Crowds?


7. How Do You Handle the Downside of Crowds?


8. Are We Pursuing Voice or Influence or Both?


9. How Do We Get from Voice to Change?


10. How Can We Find Allies?


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