ALEX Lesson Plan

Alabama Biographies of the 20th Century

You may save this lesson plan to your hard drive as an html file by selecting "File", then "Save As" from your browser's pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.

  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Kerri Woods
System: Shelby County
School: Elvin Hill Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 1976


Alabama Biographies of the 20th Century


In this lesson, students will recognize and examine the lives of Alabamians who have impacted the lives of others and the history of the state with their notable contributions during the first half and last half of the twentieth century. This interdisciplinary lesson relates social studies, language arts and reading. Through this inquiry study, students will choose one of the famous Alabamians, research the person's contributions, write a short biographical summary, and as an extension, create a 3-D scan picture relating to the life and times of the individual.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
19 ) By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the Grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. [RI.4.10]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
23 ) Write informative or explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. [W.4.2]

a. Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension. [W.4.2a]

b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic. [W.4.2b]

c. Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because). [W.4.2c]

d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic. [W.4.2d]

e. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented. [W.4.2e]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.4.23- Compose informative or explanatory texts by stating a topic, providing facts or details, and providing an appropriate conclusion related to the topic.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
35 ) Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace. [SL.4.4]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.4.35- Report on a topic or tell a story, including a beginning, middle, and end and including relevant facts or details.

Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 4
Alabama Studies
10 ) Analyze social and educational changes during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for their impact on Alabama.

Examples: social—implementation of the Plessey versus Ferguson "separate but not equal" court decision, birth of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

educational—establishment of normal schools and land-grant colleges such as Huntsville Normal School (Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical [A&M] University), Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (Auburn University), Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (Tuskegee University), Lincoln Normal School (Alabama State University)

•  Explaining the development and changing role of industry, trade, and agriculture in Alabama during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including the rise of Populism
•  Explaining the Jim Crow laws
•  Identifying Alabamians who made contributions in the fields of science, education, the arts, politics, and business during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.4.10- Recognize social and educational changes in Alabama during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
SS.AAS.4.10a- Identify what Jim Crow laws were; "separate but not equal"; NAACP.
SS.AAS.4.10b- Identify Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and other Alabamians of the early twentieth century.

Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 4
Alabama Studies
14 ) Analyze the modern Civil Rights Movement to determine the social, political, and economic impact on Alabama.

•  Recognizing important persons of the modern Civil Rights Movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr.; George C. Wallace; Rosa Parks; Fred Shuttlesworth; John Lewis; Malcolm X; Thurgood Marshall; Hugo Black; and Ralph David Abernathy
•  Describing events of the modern Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, the Freedom Riders bus bombing, and the Selma-to-Montgomery March
•  Explaining benefits of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Brown versus Board of Education Supreme Court case of 1954
•  Using vocabulary associated with the modern Civil Rights Movement, including discrimination, prejudice, segregation, integration, suffrage, and rights

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.4.14- Identify the purpose of the Civil Rights Movement; recognize important issues, leaders, and results of the movement.
SS.AAS.4.14a -Identify vocabulary associated with the modern Civil Rights Movement, including discrimination, prejudice, segregation, integration, suffrage, and rights.

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 4
R5) Locate and curate information from digital sources to answer research questions.

Local/National Standards:

Library Media Skills Objective: Students will use the structure of biographies and a notetaking device to gather pertinent information in order to write a summary about a historical Alabamian. K-4 History #3 K-4 Theater #5 (Extension activity)

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will take notes in a structured format to write a biographical summary. Students will identify the accomplishment of Alabamians during the 20th century.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will create a 3-D scan project. Students will discuss biographical information in an oral report.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Textbook: Alabama -Its History and Geography, pages 274-292 & pages 412-441 (textbook on tape if available)
Chart with tips about biographies
Biography Wheel graphic organizer
3-5 items to scan relating to biographical subject
cloth fabric for scan project

Technology Resources Needed:

Computer Lab if available for students to type essay Computer with Internet acess
Encyclopedia CD-ROM's
floppy disks-one for each student


Ask library media specialist to introduce students to the location and structure of biographies.
Prepare biography chart.
Make copies of graphic organizer.
Put names to be researched in a hat for students to draw.
Bookmark websites. * prerequisite--children should have experience in notetaking and essay writing. If not, you may wnat to model one Alabamian from the reading, note-taking, all the way to the writing of the summary.

1.)Engagement/Motivational Activity:(15 min.) Students preview and predict chapter 12 & 18 in the Alabama History textbook looking for famous Alabamians who have made notable contributions. Students will list the name of each Alabamian on the board within an attribute grid containing the following information: government, science, education, business, writing & the arts, entertainment, sports (As students locate people, the names of notable Alabamians will go under the category of the contribution)

2.)(30 min.) Students will draw or pick one person to research from the grid. The teacher will share the biography chart (A biography is a written account of a person's life. Biographer's usually include a chronology of the events of the subject's life. An example of chronological order would be the following: birth, early education, family life, career/job, major contribution to history.) The teacher will model how to pick out important or interesting ideas. The teacher will pass out biography wheels for notetaking.

3.)DAY 2 (30-45 min.) The student will read only the selected textbook pages about the person he/she is researching, then use the biography wheel graphic organizer(containing items from the listing in step 2) to take notes and gain information about his/her biographical subject, finding and writing one interesting or important idea in each piece of the wheel. Students may get additional information from other resources such as the Internet, Encyclopedia CD-ROMS,or library books.

4.)DAY 3 (30-45 min.) Students will take notes from the wheel to organize content into a written summary. The class will use the following format: OPENING SENTENCE-One notable contribution during the 20th century came from _________________. Paragraph 1: include birth, early education, family life Paragraph 2: include career/job, a least one major contribution Paragraph 3: include death, one reason to be thankful for this person's contribution CLOSING SENTENCE-So you can see, ______impacted the lives of others and history.

5.)DAY 4 (30-45 min.) Students will bring 3-5 objects that represent the life, contributions, personality, etc. of the notable personalities to be scanned, placing objects on the scanner and then placing a cloth over the top. The teacher will guide students through the scan project, saving to a disk, and printing. The student will take the picture and his/her written (or typed) essay and place the two together on a two-page spread.

6.)Day 5 (30 min) The students will present their biographical findings using the 2-page spread during a 1-3 minute oral class report.


Assessment Strategies

Completion of written biographical essay and 3-D scan picture on a 2- page spread.


Teacher may compile student 2-page spreads and bind them into a book titled: Notable Alabamians in the 20th Century.
Have student present essay as a monologue with a costume or prop.
Use biography format to apply to another content area such as scientists or authors.
Make and play a Jeopardy-type game using the categories from the attribute grid in the beginning and have each student write Jeopardy-type answers about his/her person.


Teacher may model one research/ inquiry lesson and biographical writing activity with a small group or whole class.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.