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Here is another activity that goes well with The Last Lecture. On a few occasions when I needed to miss school due to a funeral, I have left this for a sub plan. The day before being out I explain the activity so the students have a clear understanding of the expectations.

Here is the handout for the students.

Chapter 4: The Last Lecture: Parent Lottery (Chapter Summary)

Quotes, Class Discussion, & Writing Prompts: The following quotes caught my eye and could be the starting point for lessons, class discussions, or writing prompts.

“I won the parent lottery. I was born with the winning ticket, a major reason I was able to live out my childhood dreams.” (page 21)

“For a million reasons, my dad was my hero.” (page 21) Who is your hero? List 5 reasons why.

“Go to the library. Get a book.” (page 22)

“I had a mother and a father who got so many things right.” (page 22) List some of the things your parents and siblings got right. 

“If you have a question,” my folks would say, “ then find the answer… Open your mind.”

“I quote my father to people almost every day… My dad gave me advice on how to negotiate my way through life.  he’d say things like: “ never make a decision until you have to.”  he’s also warned me that even if I was in a position of,  weather at work or in relation,  I had. “ just because you’re in the driver’s seat, “  he’d say, “ doesn’t mean you have to run people over. (page 23) What are some of the words of wisdom shared with you that you find valuable and useful? 

“I was the kid who love to dream big dreams….The smile on that kids face, the wood slat,  the look in his eyes:  that photo reminds me that I won the parent lottery.” Think a photo that you cherish from your childhood.

 Although my children will have a loving mother who I know will guide them through life brilliantly, they will not have their father. I’ve accepted that, but it does hurt.” (page 25)

“I also think my dad would be reminded me that kids –  more than anything –  need to know that parents love the.  their parents don’t have to be alive for that to have.” (page 26)


“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a great assignment to leave when a teacher has an unexpected absence such as a funeral. It is an opportunity for each student to take ONE CLASS period to give a solid sincere effort to create a document that will be cherished for the rest of a person’s (a parent’s / parents’) life (or lives).

Parents are extremely influential in our personal development. Their lessons, advice, and guidance will stay with us for all of our lives. If you become a parent, often you will hear the same words of wisdom you heard as a child, only now the words are coming from your lips.

Like all humans, parents sometimes have flaws. The purpose of this activity is to focus on the positives, the things that make a parent (or parents) special. Each student different relationships with parents, however, as young adults students can understand some of the good qualities in others. The following activity will require students to reflect on their parents and their relationship with them.

In The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch comments that he has won the parent lottery. In the case of the parent lottery, fortunately there are many who feel they have gotten lucky. Hopefully, many of you feel as fortunate as Randy did.
You will spend the next class period (possibly with a substitute) completing the following activities:

  • “I had a father and a mother who got so many things right.”(page 22) Make a list of the things your parents got right.
  • “My dad gave me advice on how to negotiate my way through life.… Never make a decision until you have to.” & “Just because you’re in the driver’s seat does not mean you have to run people over.” (page 23) Explain the valuable advice you have received from your parents.
  • “Kids more than anything else – need to know their parents love them.” (page 26) So do parents – Let your parents know that you love them and that you value all the sacrifices they have made for you over your life.  This is an opportunity to thank your parents for all the little things they have done for you over the years. In this activity, the main goal is to show your love for important people in your life.
  • Memories – Create a list of all your memories. The memories can be in bullet form and only need to be understood by the recipient. The timespan is your entire life, so you should not have a problem creating an extensive list. A few ideas could be: vacations, holidays, sporting events, special events, family traditions, family jokes / stories, – ANYTHING & EVERYTHING!

Once the assignments are complete. Have the students fill out an envelope. After teaching the students how to fill out an envelope, they will put the documents inside the envelope. The teacher can then collect the envelopes, and mail them to the recipients..

* If a student feels that he / she / they / we will not be able to complete this assignment because of a strained relationship, simply encourage the student to pick another influential person in his / her / their life. If at all possible have it someone who is not also a student in the school.