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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

Researching African Americans Who Made a Difference

(In preparation for "Black History Month" - 3 week Essay Project)

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/ditmas/nking/afroessays/indexking.htm

How it works:

This program is designed to teach students research skills needed to create an essay about a famous African American.  This project has been used to prepare students for "Black History Month" in February. It is a project that teaches techniques for proper Internet research, process of drafting and preparing for the final copy.  As a culminating activity, students practice oral presentation skills by reciting excerpts from their essay at a school-wide "Black History Month" celebration.


Standards addressed:
English Language Arts
Students will be able to:

1. Produce a report of information;

2. Produce a narrative account (autobiographical or biographical);

3. Produce a narrative procedure;

4. Read and comprehend at least two books on the same subject;

5. Read and comprehend informational materials;

6. Participate in one-to-one conferences with the teacher;

7. Participate in group meetings;

8. Prepare and deliver an individual presentation;

9. Demonstrate an understanding of the rules of the English language in written and oral work; and

10. Analyze and subsequently revise work to improve its clarity and effectiveness.



1. Respond to non-fiction, using interpretive and critical processes.



(taken from ISTE standards grade 6-8)
1. Exhibit legal and ethical behaviors when researching  information using technology, and discuss consequences of misuse.

2. Use content-specific tools, software, and simulations (e.g., Web tools) to support learning and research.

3. Select and use appropriate tools and technology resources to accomplish a variety of tasks and solve problems.

4. Research and evaluate the accuracy, relevance, appropriateness, comprehensiveness, and bias of electronic information sources concerning real-world problems.



Materials used:
Internet connection, PowerPoint, and word processor.

The students:
This project is designed for middle school (grade 6-8) ESL students with High-Intermediate language skills. It could also be adapted to any language arts or social studies class, up to grade 12.


Overall Value:

This project distinguishes itself from traditional research projects in that students are taught the skills of conducting research online, taking notes to write an essay in proper format, and using ideas, text, and graphics to design posters.  Oral presentation skills are also enhanced as the final essay will be read to the school community during an assembly.




Take the following steps to prep for this project:

1. Sign up for your own bookmarks page. (e.g.: Click on "My Page" Link at  www.proteacher.com) and start bookmarking web sites for the students to use. 

2.  Notify your school librarian to set aside books on famous African Americans. Set up a schedule with the librarian, when your students can use the library.


3.  Use my PowerPoint Tutorial (click here for link) to introduce this assignment to your class.   


About the Teacher Nancy King is an English teacher at Ditmas Intermediate School # 62 in Brooklyn, New York.  She teaches English Language Arts to high level 8th grade ELL's and  the newly formed MAGNET Superintendent class, entitled "America's Dream."  The 6th grade MAGNET is made up of students who recently graduated from  ESL classes.

Having one of the school's computer labs as her classroom makes it easy for Ms. King to infuse technology into nearly all of her lessons.

Email Contact:



Estimated Class Periods to Complete:  15 block periods

(one period = 50minutes)






Social Studies/History


Beginning Grade Level: 5


Ending Grade Level: 12



Click here for Ms. King's Classroom Website



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