Website review by Melissa Powers, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2020

My Hero

Global community of storytellers share inspiring examples of humanity

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Grades
5–12
Subjects & Skills
Arts, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Communication & Collaboration, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking
Great for
PBL, SEL

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Pros: Teacher-friendly tools and resources help educators focus on student learning.

Cons: During peak times, it may take up to two weeks for moderators to review and post submissions.

Bottom Line: Free resource that teaches kids about all kinds of heroism, gives them skills to tell stories, and offers a platform to share them.

The My Hero project is a good fit for a wide variety of classrooms. At its core, My Hero can serve as a platform for student essays on a popular writing prompt, "my hero." Students can read existing essays and then write and post their own. Because there are many categories within the idea of "hero," the site can work beyond ELA classes. Kids can study scientific pioneers and historical figures as well as literary icons. And because submissions can be all types of media, art, music, and film teachers can use My Hero to share creative works on the topic. Within the teacher dashboard, teachers can create a class-specific site to make it easy for students to find each others' submissions and share their work with friends and family.

My Hero also features a newswire, a "this day in history" calendar, and featured content relevant to the news of the day, so you can integrate that bite-size content as part of a daily or weekly routine. Even if you don't plan to contribute content, the character education lessons and the dialogue on human rights and social justice all around the world open up possibilities for discussions, and the Learning Circle feature can inspire research and dialogue with students from other countries. So many of the resources on the site lend themselves to project-based learning, whether it's centered around a hero, a place, an area of focus, or even a media type.

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My Hero is an international digital storytelling community of writers, artists, filmmakers, and activists. Everyone is encouraged to share a story about their hero -- someone well-known or just known personally. Stories can take the form of essays, short films, poetry, songs, and visual art. My Hero also sponsors annual contests in different categories for cash prizes. Over 35,000 educators worldwide participate in the My Hero project, and much of the content on the site is created by students. Some content is also created by professional artists and My Hero staff.

Teachers use their dashboard to connect students via a class code, manage student projects, and create a classroom webpage for sharing their students' contributions with their school community. A large teacher resource library includes lesson plans, printable resources, and detailed tutorials for using the website. There's also a Learning Circle feature that allows classrooms from around the world to connect with each other.

My Hero has been around the block, as it was created in 1995, but its focus and format are still very relevant. As with any crowdsourced website, you may encounter out-of-date or inaccurate information, especially in student essays. But don't let that deter you from using My Hero. With recent updates and current contests, you'll find plenty that is of the now. Plus, every essay is checked by a human before it goes live, and hateful or intolerant language is not published. The staff contributors work hard to keep My Hero relevant and impactful. The teacher dashboard is easy to use, and there are tons of tutorials to help you and your students engage in the community.

With so much content to browse and so many ways for students to contribute to the platform, it opens up myriad means of expression and the relevance of a real audience. Because of the people it highlights, it encourages a focus on positive character traits and making meaningful contributions to the world. And it gives teachers the tools to get started and guide their students through the media-creation and posting process. These elements work in concert so My Hero can give students a meaningful and lasting way to share their voices with the world.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Students have a lot of choices about how they tell their stories. They can choose their topic, artistic style, form of expression, and digital medium/format.

Pedagogy

The site strives to spread positive messages by encouraging people to celebrate heroism and create inspiring media. The thoughtful lessons really encourage students to think deeply and consider various viewpoints.

Support

My Hero makes an effort to support contributors with different abilities, languages, and technology access. It has video and printable tutorials for every step, plus multiple ways to reach My Hero tech support.


Common Sense reviewer
Melissa Powers Media specialist/librarian

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