Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Amazing Americans

Larissa Hardesty
Orange County Schools


Who were the most Amazing Americans during the first 100 years of U.S. History? Discover the answer to that question in this research-based lesson. The students research an American with a partner(s) and present the information to the class.


The student knows significant aspects of the lives and accomplishments of selected men and women in the period of United States history before 1880 (for example, Sacajawea, George Washington, Betsy Ross, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman).


-Report Notes sheet for each group (see attached file)
-Variety of research reference materials from the media center (ex. [Children's Illustrated Encyclopedia, 2000], New York, DK Publishing; [A Picture Book of George Washington], David A. Adler, 1990, Holiday House; BETSY ROSS, Alexandra Wallner, 1998, Holiday House; [Squanto's Journey], Joseph Bruchac, 2000, Silver Whistle)
-One piece of 12x18 construction paper per group (white or manila)
-Amazing Americans sheets for each student (see attached file)
-Assessment Checklist (see attached file)


1. Make copies of the Report Notes sheet (one per group).
2. Gather 12x18 construction paper (white or manila) (one per group).
3. Make copies of the Amazing Americans sheet (one per student).
4. Go the library/media center and gather appropriate research materials (you may need to go to the public library if your school has insufficient materials).
5. Copy the Assessment Checklist for recording studentsí performance.


1. Ask the students if they know how old America is. Tell the students that they are going to learn about important people who lived during the first 100 years of our country.

2. Divide students into pairs (you may have some groups of three).

3. Ask each group to choose one American from the following list: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Betsy Ross, Squanto, Sacajawea, Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Benjamin Franklin.

4. Show students the Report Notes handout (see attached file) and explain that they will use this to facilitate their research. Explain that your class will go to the library/media center and look up the information on these Americans. Tell the students that they will be using this information to make a poster and present it to the class. The poster will include a picture of the American and a paragraph that includes at least the information required in the final activity (see procedure #10). Before leaving for the library, be sure that all students understand the form and the assignment completely.

5. Take the class to the library and show them where to find the research materials. Walk around and facilitate the studentsí research. Pay careful attention to make sure all students are contributing to their groupsí research. You can also help students use the Internet to get pictures of their American.

6. As each group finishes, check their Report Note sheet (see attached file) for completion.

7. After you have checked each groupís sheet, give that group a piece of 12x18 construction paper to create a poster using the information they have gathered. Allow about 30-45 minutes for the groups to complete their posters.

8. The next day, tell the students that each group will be presenting their information to the class.

9. Explain that after the presentations, they will choose and write about four of the Americans presented, and encourage them to take notes during the presentations.

10. Have each group present their information.

11. Pass out the Amazing Americans forms (see attached file) and have the students write 2-4 sentences about 4 of the Americans presented in class. Tell the students to include the Americansí occupations, the general time period during which they lived, and at least one of their major accomplishments.


On the Amazing Americans sheet (see attached file), the students will write 2-4 sentences about 4 of the Americans presented in class. As a formative assessment, the teacher will read the studentsí sentences from the Amazing Americans sheet and check the writing for mention of each Americanís occupation, a general mention of the time period during which the American lived, and mention of at least one major accomplishment of that Americanís life.
The teacher can use the Assessment Checklist in the attached file to record the studentsí performance.


1. For students with reading difficulties, ESOL, and ESE students, be sure to assign them partners who will help them without doing all of the work. These students may also benefit by completing research online.
2. The studentsí posters can be bound into a book and placed in the reading center.
3. This lesson could also be used to teach this standard: The student knows significant aspects of the lives and accomplishments of selected men and women, including African Americans and Hispanics, in the period of United States history since 1880.

Attached Files

The Report notes sheet, Amazing Americans, and Assessment Checklist.†††††File Extension: pdf

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