Correlation of The Giraffe Heroes Program And National Educational Standards

This analysis is based on the McRel Standards Database, a coherent compendium of educational standards for primary, intermediate, middle school and high school grades. “McRel” stands for Midcontinent Research for Education and Learning—a private, nonprofit organization, established in 1966 and based in Aurora Colorado, whose purpose is to improve education through applied research and development. McRel’s vision is that clear consistent standards provide clearer expectations for students and the possibility of better communication among teachers, administrators, parents and the larger community. The McRel Standards Database is based on work sponsored wholly, or in part, by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement of the U.S. Department of Education.

Background. In September, 1989, then President George Bush met with the nation’s governors in an “Educational Summit” which established six broad goals for education in the United States. Goal 3 was, that “by the year 2000, American students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency in challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science, history and geography; and that every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern economy.” The next year Congress established two panels to address, among other questions, what standards of performance should be set.

These government efforts catalyzed work in national subject matter organizations who sought to establish national standards in their respective areas. Many of these groups looked for guidance from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) which had pre-empted the national mandate by publishing standards for its own field in 1989. Motivated by the push from Washington and guided by what the NCTM had done, independent efforts were then launched to identify standards in many other academic disciplines.

In all this work, however, no consensus emerged as to what form “standards” should take or how they should be used. Early McRel analyses, however, confirmed that a number of basic techniques could successfully be applied to describe content knowledge regardless of domain. In 1993, McRel began its work to provide an internally consistent model of standards and benchmarks in the various disciplines, melding varying definitions, differing types of content descriptions and differing levels of generality. Its methodology was to identify significant reports, select reference documents, identify standards and benchmarks, integrate information, and then organize standards into categories.

The McRel Standards Database is now widely used by educators nationwide, both in its own right, and as a guide for the development of state-specific standards. The McRel website is at

The Giraffe Heroes Program is a national K-12 service-learning and character development program, created by the nonprofit Giraffe Project, based in Langley WA. The Giraffe Heroes Program may be ordered on our website or telephone the office 1 800 853 7550 west coast business hours.

The Correlations. The purpose of this document is to demonstrate the correlations between the K-12 Giraffe Heroes Program and relevant educational standards, using the McRel Standards Database. The Giraffe Heroes Program comes in editions for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12. The first three editions come as a one-per-classroom Teachers’ Guides. The 10-12 edition consists of a Resource Guide for the facilitator plus individual copies of a book for students titled It’s Up to Us. Correlations are identified for all editions.

Legend: The notations K-2, 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12 refer to the corresponding grade-level edition of the Giraffe Heroes Program. “S” means “Stage” in the K-2 edition and “Section” in the 3-5 and 6-9 editions. “L” means “Lesson;” “Ch.” means “Chapter;” and “N” means “Neckbone”—a name used in place of “Chapter” in the final section of the K-2, 3-5 and 6-9 editions.

Language Arts Standards


1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.

2. Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing.

3. Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions.

4. Gathers and uses information for research purposes.

K-2 (older students) (S2L2)—writing reports; (S2L5)—writing letters.

3-5 (S1L1 and onward)—keeping a journal; (S2L5)—writing letters and articles.

3-5 and 6-9 (S1L4)—writing stories; (S3N5)—writing a project description and an action plan; (S3N6)— writing business letters and press releases as part of a service project.

10-12 (Ch. 2, 6)—writing a project description; (Ch. 6)—writing an action plan; (Ch. 8)— writing business letters as part of a service project; creating brochures and flyers.

K-2 (S2L1)—spotting Giraffes in stories; (S3N1, 2, 3)—researching issues and projects

3-5 and 6-9 (S2)—researching textbooks, media and other sources to find stories of heroes; (S3N1)— researching issues and projects.

6-9 (S1L1, 3)—researching heroes.

10-12 (Ch. 2)—researching issues and projects; (Ch. 6)—researching information to implement a project plan.


5. Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process.

7. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts.

K-2 (older students, entire program)—reading stories of Giraffe-heroes.

3-5 (entire program)—reading stories of Giraffe-heroes.

6-9 (entire program)—reading stories of Giraffe-heroes; (S1L5)—understanding metaphors.

10-12 (entire book)—reading It’s Up to Us, including stories of Giraffes.

Listening and Speaking

8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.

K-2 (entire text)—listening to audiotape stories and instruction; (S1L2)—sequencing stories for comprehension; (S1L3)—listening to stories of Giraffes; (S2L3, 5)—making oral presentations as part of defining Giraffe qualities; (S3)— discussions and presentations as part of choosing and implementing a service project.

3-5 (S1L2, 4)—listening to stories; (S1L4)—telling the stories of Giraffes; (S2L2)—making oral presentations; (S2L5)—presenting interview results.

6-9 (S1L1, 2, 4, and 5)—oral presentations; (S1)— listening to stories of heroes; (S2L1,3)— telling stories of Giraffes; (S2L2)—learning interviewing techniques.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3N1)—choosing an issue and a service project; discussions and brainstorming; (S3N6)—oral presentations as part of implementing a service project.

10-12 (Ch. 2)—choosing an issue and a service project; discussion and brainstorming; (Ch. 3)—creating a group vision; (Ch. 6)—making oral presentations as part of creating and implementing an action plan; (Ch. 8)—learning how to give a speech; (Ch. 9)—dealing with conflict.


9. Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

All editions (videotape)—viewing and assessing stories of Giraffe Heroes.

K-2 (S3N4)—creating a vision of intended results.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3N1)—taking an “awareness walk;” (S3N2)— creating a vision of intended results.

10-12 (Ch. 3)—creating a vision of intended results; (Ch. 8)—learning how to assess media.


10. Understands the characteristics and components of the media.

3-5 (S2 Add’l. Activities) and 6-9 (S2L4)—creating a radio show.

3-5 (S2L2) and 6-9 (S2L1)—looking for Giraffes in the media.

3-5 (S2L4) and 6-9 (S2L2)—learning interview techniques.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3N6)—writing press releases.

10-12 (Ch. 8)—dealing effectively with all forms of media, including creating media strategies, writing press releases, creating visual displays, and giving interviews and other public presentations.

Civics Standards

1. Understands ideas about civic life, politics, and government.

10. Understands the roles of voluntarism and organized groups in American social and political life.

9. Understands the importance of Americans sharing and supporting certain values, beliefs, and principles of American constitutional democracy.

All editions focus on the impact individuals and groups can have on communities and the wider world and shows students how to have that impact.

10-12 (Ch. 12)—political persuasion and lobbying.

All editions—in choosing a service project, students learn to value and practice respectful discussion, debate and voting—then unite behind a common goal.

11. Understands the role of diversity in American life and the importance of shared values, political beliefs, and civic beliefs in an increasingly diverse American society.

14. Understands issues concerning the disparities between ideals and reality in American political and social life.

K-2 (S3N1-3), 3-5 and 6-9 (S3N1) and 10-12 (Ch.2)— learning to value others’ points of view.

10-12 (Ch. 8)—learning how to find common ground.

All editions—the Giraffe-heroes whose stories appear throughout the Giraffe Heroes program represent a wide range of races, creeds and economic and social backgrounds. For stories specifically on diversity issues, see:

K-2—Giraffe stories on pp. G15 and G45

3-5—Giraffe stories on pp. 89, 95, 106, 113 and 133.

6-9—Giraffe stories on pp. 89, 117.

10-12—Giraffe stories on pp. 9 and 150.

All editions—in creating and carrying out a service project, students learn to create a vision of the results they want to accomplish to fill a need important to them—then to deal with the real-world obstacles and risks they encounter. They learn the value of courage in reaching ideals.

Civics Standards (cont.)

19. Understands what is meant by "the public agenda," how it is set, and how it is influenced by public opinion and the media.

21. Understands the formation and implementation of public policy.

25. Understands issues regarding personal, political, and economic rights.

26. Understands issues regarding the proper scope and limits of rights and the relationships among personal, political, and economic rights.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3L6)—writing press releases; giving public presentations.

10-12 (Ch. 3)—learning how visions can guide and energize group and public agendas; (Ch. 8)—learning about the power of the media and how to deal with media.

3-5, 6-9, 10-12—depending on the type of service project they choose, students may assess public policies that effect the problem they see, learn how such policies are formed, and even challenge them.

10-12—Giraffe “whistleblower” stories on pp. 129 and 143

All editions—depending on the type of service project they choose, students may assess challenges to the rights of themselves or others, and evaluate conflicts among rights. For stories specifically on issues of poverty and urban violence, see:

K-2—Giraffe stories on pp. 47, 53, 66, G19, G21, G31 and G35.

3-5—Giraffe stories on pp. 71, 97, 101, 107, 111, 115, 117 and 135.

6-9—Giraffe stories on pp. 77, 91 and 109.

10-12—Giraffe story on page 3.

27. Understands how certain character traits enhance citizens' ability to fulfill personal and civic responsibilities.

28. Understands how participation in civic and political life can help citizens attain individual and public goals.

K-2 (S2L4)—being brave, caring and persistent.

3-5 (S1L3)—being courageous, caring, and persistent; taking helpful action.

6-9 (S1L4)—being courageous and caring and taking responsibility.

3-5 (S2L5) and 6-9 (S2L4)—students spot Giraffe qualities in themselves.

10-12—students learn (Ch. 4)—active compassion; (Ch. 5)— courage; (Ch. 7)—taking responsibility; (Ch. 9)—finding common ground; (Ch. 10-11)—leadership.

All editions (entire curriculum)—students learn that “sticking their necks out” to help solve public problems not only helps solve the problems, but also makes them feel competent and valued.

3-5 (S2L1) and 6-9 (S1L3)—learning about heroes, risk-taking and the common good.

10-12 (Ch. 1)—making the explicit connection between service to others and adding meaning to one’s life.

Civics Standards (cont.)

29. Understands the importance of political leadership, public service, and a knowledgeable citizenry in American constitutional democracy.

History Standards

United States History Standards

World History Standards

3-5 (S2L4) and 6-9 (S2L3)—finding Giraffes in their own community.

All editions—students carry out a service project they have designed themselves, and reflect on what they’ve done and its impact on the community.

10-12 (Ch. 10-12)—learning who is a leader and the qualities necessary to be a leader.

3-5 and 6-9 (S2)—students look for Giraffe heroes in history, using their history textbooks and other materials, then tell their stories in class.

Life Skills Standards

Life Work

2. Uses various information sources, including those of a technical nature, to accomplish specific tasks.

3. Manages money effectively.

4. Pursues specific jobs.

5. Makes general preparation for entering the work force.

6. Makes effective use of basic life skills.

7. Displays reliability and a basic work ethic.

8. Operates effectively within organizations.


1. Sets and manages goals.

2. Performs self-appraisal.

3. Considers risks.

4. Demonstrates perseverance.

5. Maintains a healthy self-concept.

K-2 (S3N5)—creating a plan for a service project.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3N3, 4 and 5)—assessing obstacles and risks; creating a plan for a service project.

10-12 (Ch. 2)—choosing a project; (Ch. 6)—creating an action plan and carrying it out.

6-9 (S3L5)—creating a project budget.

10-12 (Ch. 6)—creating a project budget; fundraising

All editions—guided by the text, students carry out a service project they have designed themselves. They do research; assess obstacles, risks and resources; assign and take on responsibilities; weigh options; make decisions; persevere; reflect and learn to work as a team.

10-12 (Ch. 10-12)—students learn what a leader is and the qualities necessary to be a leader.

All editions—guided by the text,in carrying out a service project, students set and manage goals; regularly reflect on their performance; assess obstacles, risks and resources; and learn the value of perseverance. Reaching their goals and being of service adds to a healthy self-concept.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3 Intro)—learning the difference between thinking and doing.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3N6)—discussing “What if we fail?”

10-12 (Ch.12)—dealing with failure and with success.

Life Skills Standards (cont.)

Thinking and Reasoning

1. Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument.

2. Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning.

K-2 (S2L1)—reflecting on Giraffes and Giraffe qualities.

3-5 (S1 Add’l. Activities)—finishing a story through listening and logic.

3-5 and 6-9 (S1)— learning about heroes and heroic qualities: brainstorming, analysis and synthesis; developing definitions of heroes.

3-5 and 6-9 (S2)—finding heroes: analysis and evaluation.

K-2 (S3N1,2 and 3), 3-5 and 6-9 (S3N1) and 10-12 (Ch. 2)—brainstorming; choosing an issue, then researching and choosing a project through discussion and logical argument.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3N6)—using reasoned argument as part of a service project.

10-12 (Ch. 8)—learning to make public presentations to change others’ attitudes and/or behavior.

3-5 and 6-9—Reflection Questions follow every section.

K-2 and 10-12—Reflection Questions appear throughout the text.

3. Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences.

4. Understands and applies basic principles of hypothesis testing and scientific inquiry.

5. Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques.

K-2 (S2L2)—learning the qualities of Giraffes.

K-2 (S2L3) and 3-5 (S1 Add’l. Activity)— defining Giraffes and their opposites.

K-2 and 3-5 (S1L1)—solving the hoofprint mystery.

3-5 (S1L1)—answering “20 Questions about Giraffes;” (S1 Add’l. Activities)—Just for Fun puzzle; (S2L2)—defining Giraffes; (S2L4)— searching for Giraffes.

3-5 (S1L2, 3)—comparing and contrasting animal giraffes and human Giraffes.

3-5 (S2L1), 6-9 (S1L3) and 10-12 (Ch. 5)— comparing and contrasting heroes and celebrities.

6-9 (S1)—learning to define who is a hero.

10-12 (Ch. 1)—examining what creates a meaningful life.

All editions—guided by the text, students plan and carry out a service project, surmounting obstacles and risks, assessing progress and reflecting on the results.

3-5 (S2 Add’l Activities)—solving Giraffe puzzles.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3N6)—understanding the role of risk.

10-12 (Ch. 5)—courage and risktaking; (Ch. 7)—taking responsibility.

Life Skills Standards

Thinking and Reasoning (cont.)

6. Applies decision-making techniques.

Working With Others

1. Contributes to the overall effort of a group.

3. Works well with diverse individuals and in diverse situation.

4. Displays effective interpersonal communication skills.

2. Uses conflict-resolution techniques.

5. Demonstrates leadership skills.

K-2 (S3N1, 2 and 3); 3-5 and 6-9 (S3N1) and 10-12 (Ch. 2)—choosing an issue and a project.

K-2 (S3N6) and 3-5 and 6-9 (S3N4, 6)—making a commitment; making decisions as part of carrying out a service project.

10-12 (Ch. 7, pp. 82-89)—making decisions.

All editions—guided by the text, students decide amongst themselves what they want to work on and carry out a service project they have designed themselves. They learn to work as a team in order to reach the goals they have set.

3-5 and 6-9 (S1 and S2)—working as a team to identify Giraffes and Giraffe qualities.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3N6)—creating a Giraffe Club.

6-9 (S1)—developing a joint definition of a hero.

10-12 (Ch. 9)—finding common ground.

3-5 and 6-9 (S3N3-4)—dealing with obstacles and risks.

10-12 (Ch. 4)—learning active compassion; (Ch. 9)— resolving conflicts and finding common ground.

10-12 (Ch. 7)—taking responsibility and making decisions; Ch. 10 and 11 are devoted exclusively to leadership skills.

Visual Arts Standards

1. Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts.

2. Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art.

3. Knows a range of subject matter, symbols, and potential ideas in the visual arts.

K-2 (S1L1 and onward)—making a scrapbook; (S2L1)—multimedia ideas; making “spy-glasses;” (entire text esp. S1L4)—making props to dramatize stories.

3-5 (S1L1)—making a bulletin board; (S1L2)— painting T shirts; (S1L3)—Giraffe jigsaw puzzle; (S1)—multimedia ideas; (S2) Giraffe Hall of Fame.

6-9 (S1L2)—multi-media presentations; (S1L3,4)—collages and posters; (S2L1)—making bulletin boards and trading cards; (S2)— multimedia projects and additional art activities; (S3)—making a project scrapbook.

10-12 (Ch. 2 and 3)—creating posters; (Ch. 8)— using a variety of visual arts to create posters, flyers, brochures and websites.

Behavioral Studies Standards

2. Understands various meanings of social group, general implications of group membership, and different ways that groups function.

4. Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions.

All editions—in deciding on an issue and choosing and carrying out a service project, students, appropriate to their grade level, learn and practice ways of group functioning, including discussion and debate, voting, creating and carrying out a joint plan, resolving conflicts, and working as a team.

10-12 (Ch. 4)—learning active compassion; (Ch. 9)—negotiating, resolving conflicts and finding common ground.

Health Standards

2. Knows environmental and external factors that affect individual and community health.

4. Knows how to maintain mental and emotional health.

All editions—students learn from stories of Giraffes working on environmental issues.

K-2—stories on pp. 61, G13, G17, G33, G37, G43, G49, G53.

3-5—stories on pp. 87, 91, 99, 103 and 109.

6-9—stories on pp. 75, 79, 84, 85, 97, 101, 107 and 119.

10-12—stories on pp. 7, 23, 52 and 119.

K-2 (S2L4); 3-5 (S1L3); 6-9 (S1L4)—students learn the value of being courageous, caring, responsible and persistent.

3-5 (S2L5) and 6-9 (S2L4)—students spot these Giraffe qualities in themselves.

10-12 (Ch. 1)—finding meaning; (Ch. 4)—learning active compassion; (Ch. 5)—finding courage; (Ch. 7)—taking responsibility; (Ch. 9)—finding common ground; (Ch. 10-11)—leadership; (Ch. 12)—dealing with failure and with success.

9. Understands aspects of substance use and abuse.

All editions—students learn from stories of Giraffes working on substance abuse issues.

K-2—stories on pp. G23 and G47.

3-5—stories on pp. 93, 125 and 129.

6-9—stories on pp. 73, 87 and 103.

10-12—stories on pages 54 and 136.

Mathematics Standards

1. Uses a variety of strategies in the problem-solving process.

3. Uses basic and advanced procedures while performing the processes of computation.

4. Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of measurement.

5. Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of geometry.

6. Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of statistics and data analysis.

7. Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of probability.

9. Understands the general nature and uses of mathematics.

All editions—appropriate to their age level, students design and carry out service projects in their communities. These projects present a variety of opportunities for learning and practicing mathematics, including simple computations (e.g. creating a budget), statistics and data analysis (defining a problem and designing answers); geometry (measuring; designing objects and spaces) and probability (weighing options).

3-5 (S1L1)—measuring and weighing; (S2L1)— using Venn diagrams.

Science Standards

Earth and Space Science

1. Understands atmospheric processes and the water cycle.

2. Understands Earth's composition and structure.

Life Sciences

5. Understands the structure and function of cells and organisms.

6. Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment

7. Understands biological evolution and the diversity of life.

Nature of Science

11. Understands the nature of scientific knowledge and inquiry.

Technology Standards

1. Knows the characteristics and uses of computer hardware and operating systems.

2. Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs.

All editions—appropriate to their age level, students design and carry out service projects in their communities. These projects can present a variety of opportunities in science, particularly if they take on an environmental challenge, as many Giraffe Heroes Program projects do. Students learn and practice scientific inquiry and the scientific method, address specific topics in earth and life sciences relevant to their projects, and conduct field work.

3-5 and 6-9 (S1, S3) and 10-12 (Ch. 2 and 6) doing research using the Internet; word processing.

10-12 (Ch. 8)—using computers for graphic design and desktop publishing.