A few years ago I had a wonderful student teacher who collaborated with me on unit about success.
This unit proved to be valuable because it gave the students diverse opportunities to use language for social and academic reasons. It also gave them a chance to consider their own definitions of success and research people who they considered to be successful.
We launched the unit with an inspiring TED talk by Philippe Petit. I often use TED talks for class because they have flawless closed-captioning in English and a number of other languages. I specifically chose Petit's talk because of how he outlines a number of qualities (tenacity, passion, and more) that helped him succeed throughout his wild and unique career as a tightrope walker.
We then held classroom discussions and interviews about the elements of success and varying definitions of success. After determining their own definitions, student researched two people who they consider successful. They investigated the lives of those individuals and tried to determine the factors that helped them succeed. Students organized their information using a folder system. Factors contributing to success were written on halves of envelopes. Then facts were added to index cards which were color coded for each person being researched. The words on the envelopes later became topic sentences for paragraphs and the index cards were used for supporting details.
Students composed final written reports and then created mathematical formulas for their particular success equation.