Black History Month Research Paper

In January, I would ask my librarian for enough African American biographies for each student in my class. I was lucky enough to have an amazing librarian that did a great job picking out a huge range of African American biographies on a level that my students could read.

Originally I just had students choose a famous African American that they wanted to learn about, but I found that the majority of my students would focus on the same people – Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Barak Obama.

In order to get my students interested in OTHER famous African Americans, I would give them a chance to do a quick “book tour.” With pencil and paper in hand, I had my students come sit “class meeting style” (in a circle) on our rug. Then, I passed out one of the books to each of my students.

The students had 45 seconds to look at the book in their hand. They could read or just flip through and look at the pictures. After 45 seconds, if they thought they might be interested in studying that person, I asked them to write that person’s name down on their notebook paper. If they weren’t interested, they didn’t have to write anything. Then, everybody would pass their book clockwise. Everybody would get a new book, and the process would repeat again. And again. And again. Until every student got a chance to look through every book.

Each student was required to write down at least 5 names. After finishing, I would look through everybody’s choices and assign each student their famous African American and give them their book to use as research for their Black History Month Research Project.

This process accomplished 3 things:
1. Every student felt like they had a say in the person they would research, making them much more excited to complete the project.
2. Students were introduced to other famous African Americans that they weren’t familiar with before.
3. I could choose a book that was suitable for my students’ reading levels so they wouldn’t get frustrated when doing the research (or get a book way too easy for them).


Research Project:

First Step:

The students will use the Internet sites listed for their initial research.  They will read the information first.  Then, they will use the worksheets provided to take notes, not sentences.  This process will be repeated for their additional Internet sites, encyclopedias, etc.  This will take approximately three to four class periods.  (Some of the researching could be assigned as homework.)

Second Step:

The students will then need to reread their notes.  Then, they will create an outline of the sequence of events of their person's life.  Then they will use their notes to add details and they write the report in theiir own words.  It may be hand written or typed.  Follow the requirements of the report as listed in the rubrics above. Time spent in school vs. homework time will vary.

Power Point:

First Step:

The students will use the information from their reports to create at least five Power Point slides.  Copies of the layout format of the slides will be handed out to map out their Power Point.  Notes may be taken to guide their presentation. This should take approximately one class period.

Second Step:

The students will then use the computer to create a Power Point with the criteria as mentioned above.  Time will vary depending on previous experience with Power Point.

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