Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Hero Spontaneous Lecture

Christine Schuyler


Students select and research a real-life hero. They then prepare short lectures for their classmates based upon the research they gain from a variety of primary and secondary sources.


The student gathers information from a variety of sources, including primary sources (for example, magazines and newspapers).


-Chart paper
-Reference Materials: newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, biographies, Internet
-Required details and resources list (see associated file)
-Rubric for presentation (see associated file)


1. Schedule time in the media center, or collect a variety of reference materials for use in your classroom.
2. Review with students the various kinds of reference materials and how to use them.
3. Review with students the difference between primary and secondary sources.
4. Prepare copies of detail lists and rubrics.
5. Prepare cooperative learning groups.
6. Gather chart paper and markers.


Necessary Background Information:
Students must have prior knowledge of primary and secondary sources.
Students must have prior knowledge of reference materials.

1. Review with students the difference between primary and secondary sources. Show and discuss examples of both kinds of sources, and ask students to explain why each example would be labeled primary or secondary.

2. List three examples of real-life heroes on the board. Use examples that will be relevant to students, such a Rudolph Guiliani, Mother Teresa, or Martin Luther King, Jr. Ask students what these people have in common.

3. Ask students to name more examples of real-life heroes. Generate a large list of these heroes on the board.

4. Ask students to consider the qualities that make these people real-life heroes.

5. Assign students to cooperative learning groups. Assign each student a specific role: speaker, recorder, time-keeper, and encourager. Ask each cooperative group to select one person who they identify as a real-life hero. Ask them to consider what makes this person a hero.

6. Explain to students that they will research the life and accomplishments of the person they have selected by using a wide variety of resources.

7. Provide each student with a list of details that they must research and a list of resources that they must use. (See associated file.)

8. Tell groups that each student is responsible for using two unique sources, one of which is a primary source and one of which is a secondary source. Students will need to assign themselves the specific sources within their group.

9. Provide students with sufficient time to research their list of details within the wide variety of resources provided: newspaper articles, magazine articles, interviews, encyclopedias, almanacs, biographies, autobiographies, web pages. As a group, they must find all of the required information.

10. Monitor studentsí work, answering any questions and checking that students understand the directions and expectations.

11. Using chart paper and markers, students write notes that illustrate the information they have gathered from reading their resources. They must know where each piece of information was obtained and whether this resource is primary and secondary.

12. Each group presents the notes and lecture to the class.

13. Assess notes and lecture using rubric. (See associated file.)

This activity is modeled on the small-group activity, Spontaneous Lectures, created by Dr. Paul S. George.


Listen to presentations and assess the studentsí abilities to gather information in the following categories: information obtained, identification of primary and secondary sources, sources used with a rubric that formatively rates the quality of these research sources as excellent, acceptable, or needs improvement. (A rubric to guide this assessment of the students' work is provided in the assoicated file.) Those students who need improvement can be provided with additional remediation.


This lesson can be based on any research topic, for example, countries, inventions, presidents, authors. The list is infinite! Simply choose the topic and create the list of details that students should cover, or allow students to decide what kinds of information would be essential to the understanding of the topic.
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