The Good Deed

In this moving story, a girl learns something about the meaning of kindness. The story is paired with an excerpt from a graduation speech by author George Saunders.

By Marion Dane Bauer
From the February 2017 Issue

Learning Objective: to apply ideas about kindness in a speech to a work of fiction; to analyze a dynamic character

Lexile: 700L (story); 800L (speech)
Other Key Skills: tone, inference, text evidence, figurative language, interpreting text
Topic: SEL,
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Activities (10)
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (1)
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Activities (10) Download All Quizzes and Activities
Quizzes (2)
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Answer Key (1)


Watch George Saunders deliver his full speech here!

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

Close Reading, Critical Thinking, Skill Building

1. PREPARING TO READ (5 minutes)

2. READING AND DISCUSSING: “The Good Deed” (35 minutes)

3. READING AND DISCUSSING: “Failures of Kindness” (20 minutes)


Differentiated Writing Prompts
For On-Level Readers

How do George Saunders’s ideas about kindness apply to Heather? Explain how Heather fails to be kind as well as how she succeeds. Use text evidence.

For Struggling Readers

Think about what it means to be kind. Choose one example of kindness in “The Good Deed.” Explain why this is an example of kindness.

For Advanced Readers

George Saunders says that each of us is born feeling that “our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story.” Explain how this idea applies to Heather, and how Heather’s perception about the importance of her own story changes. Support your answer with details from “The Good Deed.”