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A Civil Rights Leader Presentation


Tech Product/Equipment:
Computer and projector, Mobile devices for students, Speakers

Activity Description

Nonviolence: animated image of Nelson Mandela surrounded by a Word Cloud with words such as peace, courage, liberation, education, justice, dignity, conviction, community, and nonviolence
Source: Pixabay by John Hain (License: CC0/Public Domain)

In this activity, students use the Internet to gather information and take notes for a presentation about a civil rights leader. Students work individually or in pairs to enter information and images on a Google Slideshow (or other slideshow software) template file and make an oral presentation.


  1. Plan a lesson to teach biography vocabulary and simple past tense, which allows students to practice speaking and writing about their own biographies.
  2. Decide how you will get your students to the various Web sites. See the Teacher Tips section below for ideas if you need some.
  3. View the video and reading lesson materials. These are sources for texts on Ghandi: Famous People Lesson, Ellii (formerly ESL Library) – with a paid subscription, ReadWorks (free account) The British Empire - Mohandas K. Gandhi – with audio, vocabulary, and question set, CommonLit (free account) HOW SALT SHOOK AN EMPIRE (with audio, questions, discussion, and related media – two videos).

If you decide to focus your lesson on someone other than Gandhi, these are other sources for videos and texts on civil rights leaders:



  1. Teach simple past tense and biography vocabulary. For ideas, see English4Real Ages and Stages or 7ESL (sites may have British spelling).
  2. Individually or in pairs, assign or allow students to choose a civil rights leader.
  3. Decide which tool you will have students use to make their visual aids. Explain the assignment and show the sample PowerPoint presentation (see Example Document, above) or the sample Google slideshow.
  4. Show students how to navigate and locate information on the Web site(s) you have chosen for them to use (Wikipedia,, or others).
  5. Have students save their files and share them with you (by e-mail, email attachment, uploading to a learning management system, or saving on a USB device).
  6. If students are working in pairs, ask them to practice their presentations, deciding who will talk about which slide(s).
  7. On presentation day, open the files, and if students have made PowerPoint files or Google Slides, run the slideshow (Slide Show – from Beginning) and have students present their information.

Teacher Tips

  • Prepare and show students a sample presentation so that they understand the assignment expectations.
  • This assignment will take some time, so it may be advisable to break it up into chunks: one day of Internet searching and note-taking, one day of preparing the presentation and practicing, and one day for presentations.
  • If is too advanced for your class, you may choose Wikipedia or Simple English Wikipedia for students to use. Well-known civil rights leaders will also have their own dedicated Web sites, which can be found by doing a search on Google.
  • Some examples of civil rights leaders can be found at Wikipedia , Infoplease , NewsOne , and Biography Online , but you may want to encourage students to choose a civil rights leader from their native countries.
  • In order get students to the Web site, you can make it a Favorite or Bookmark the site on each computer browser, e-mail them the link, e-mail a word processing document with the link in it, or post the link on your class Web page.
  • Many sites, like these, have advertising. Teach your students what it looks like and how to avoid selecting it since many times it contains malware that they will not want on their computers, at school or at home. It is a very important and necessary skill for them to know.

Program Areas

  • ESL: English as a Second Language


  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced

Lesson Plan

  1. Tell students that "civil rights" are political and social freedoms and equality.
  2. Ask students: What are some civil rights? Brainstorm a list and document students’ ideas.
  3. Ask students to think of historical and current civil rights issues and movements. Brainstorm a list and document students’ ideas.
  4. Some ideas may be the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, the right to government services, the right to public education, and the right to use public facilities.
  5. You may take a moment to show students the First Amendment and elicit from students or explain what the words mean.
  6. You can also show the articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights or view this illustrated booklet version and assign pairs or groups to prepare a one or two-word summary of each of the articles (there are 30).

Tell students that they are going to learn about one civil rights leader and then research and present on a world Civil Rights Leader of their choice.

Engagement Enhancement

Teach biography vocabulary and simple past tense, which allows students to practice speaking and writing about their own biographies.


Use some of the following questions to create an interview handout providing space to write answers, which students will use for classmate interviews:

Biography Information Practice

Write your answers to these questions in complete sentences. Use "I" to start each sentence.

Then ask and answer the questions in complete sentences with your group members. Help your group members use the correct verb tense (past).

1. When were you born?

2. Where were you born?

3. Where did you grow up?

4. How many brothers and sisters do you have? What are their names? Where do they live? What is your position in your family (only child, the oldest, middle, the youngest)?

5. When did you get your first job? What was the job?

6. When did you learn to drive?

7. When did you immigrate to the USA?

8. Are you married? If so, when did you get married? What is your spouse’s name?

9. Do you have children? If so, when did you have your first child? How many children do you have? What are their names and ages? Do they live with you? If you don’t have kids, talk about your pets.

10. When did you start school here?

11. Are you a United States citizen? If so, when did you become a citizen?

12. What is a cause, organization, or movement that is important for you? (e.g., the environment, education, equal rights, PTO, etc.). Do you participate in this cause, organization, or movement? If so, how?

13. What is a plan you have for the future?


Engagement Enhancement
  1. Have students predict by answering the questions on the handout "What do you know about Gandhi?" You can document their responses and return them to them after the video by writing them on the board, on a Google Doc, or by using a poll (Zoom poll, Mentimeter, Polldaddy, etc.).
  2. Have students practice listening by watching a video on Gandhi: Gandhi - Human Rights Activist | Mini Bio (3:34). Distribute the Gandhi Bio Video handout. Have students preview the questions to focus their listening. Play the video or have students watch the video independently for homework. Have students check their answers with classmates or check as a whole class.
  3. For reading practice, download and distribute the text you selected, appropriate to your students’ level. Model previewing and predicting and metacognition by looking at titles, pull quotes, text features, and images. Then model think-aloud.
  4. Ask students to read again. Then preview the questions and read again in small groups to work on answering the questions together. Check the answers together in class after students have checked with classmates.
  5. Pull high-frequency AWL words from the text using AWL Highlighter (Use this tool to highlight words from the AWL (Academic Word List).  If you want to use the gap fill maker, you will need to input and highlight the text first. You may also like to try the AWL tag cloud, which is a companion to this page. For a more detailed look, including the number of words and percentages, try the Vocabulary Profiler).
  6. Ask students to talk in groups to fill out a chart to determine which words to explicitly teach: List of words with a checkbox for each word - "I have never heard or seen this word"; "I have seen or heard this word but don't know what it means"; "I think I know a meaning for this word. It means..."; "I can explain this word and use it in a sentence." Have students compare and explain words they do already know in small groups. This activity could also be conducted as an online poll or Google Form, but conducted this way will allow students to communicate and peer teach.
  7. Debrief with students, and eliminate those words that everyone knows.
  8. Have students write the target vocabulary words in vocabulary notebooks: Model how to copy the original sentence from the source, determine the part of speech, write related words (those in the word family), come up with a definition, write an original sentence about themselves using the target vocabulary (or draw an image), and then use to list two or three synonyms and antonyms. Follow up with having students post to a Padlet wall.
  9. Make (or have students make) Quizlet flashcards for retrieval practice. Run a Quizlet Live game in class.
  10. Write (or have students write) conversation questions with the target vocabulary. Then have them ask and answer these questions or make surveys or polls and report findings. Follow up by having students contribute to a discussion forum with their answers to the questions.
  11. Use the AWL Highlighter to make a gap-fill exercise. There are three types:
  • a simple gap fill, with blanks only (you will need the words above to complete it)
  • a headword gap fill, in which each of the academic words will be replaced by the headword (or by another word form if the replaced word is itself a headword)
  • a word family gap fill, in which each of the academic words will be replaced by another word from the same word family


 12. Next, assign or allow students to choose individually, in pairs, or in small groups a word or two to post onto a Padlet wall with a definition, their original sentences, and an image, video, or GIF.

  13. Have students take an online quiz in the LMS, if you use one, on the vocabulary. It can be fill-in-the-blank, T/F, multiple choice, or a variety of questions for students to demonstrate their understanding of target AWL vocabulary.




1. Help students brainstorm and compile a list of civil rights leaders from around the world as a topic list to assign to students or to allow students to choose from.

2. Prepare a note-taking form to include the following information and/or questions, as desired:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Date of Death (if deceased)
  • Cause of Death
  • Occupation(s)
  • Main accomplishment(s)
  • Other Interesting Information
  • Conclusion: What I Learned or Why People Admire this Person
  1. Who is someone you consider a civil rights leader?
  2. Where does your civil rights leader live? / Where did he or she live? When did he or she live? (if no longer alive).
  3. What did this person do (what was the cause he or she advocated for)? / What has your hero done? 
  4. What are three words you use to describe this civil rights hero?  Explain each characteristic/trait with an example.
  5. Why did you choose this person?  Why is this person important to you?  How has he or she made a difference in your life or in the world?  If you could say one thing to this person, what would you say and why?


  1. What is the current state of the civil rights issue this person was fighting for?

Choose the Web sites you will have students use to gather information, which may be any of the following, and make sure that they are not blocked at your school:

Introduce the assignment:

  1. For this project, you will make a class presentation on someone you think is a civil rights hero.
  2. Have students prepare their visual aids using Google Slides or PowerPoint.
  3. The following is a template for a Google Slideshow: template and a sample slideshow.

Or give students choices with these options:

  4. You will make a presentation and have the option to express yourself creatively with any one of the following:

  1. Provide feedback on students’ work.
  2. Then have students share their presentations in class.
  3. Use a rubric or checklist to provide an evaluation or have students conduct peer feedback or self-evaluate with a form using Google Forms or a survey tool in your learning management system.

Students will be able to use a variety of skills: determine central ideas or themes in oral presentations and spoken and written texts, introduce and develop an informational topic with facts and details, carry both short sustained research projects to answer a question, gather information from multiple print and digital sources, and deliver oral presentations that integrate graphics or multimedia.



  • Reading Foundational Skills
    • RF.4 - Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. (Fluency)
  • Reading
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
    • CCR Anchor 7 - Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • Writing
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
    • CCR Anchor 6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
    • CCR Anchor 7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
    • CCR Anchor 8 - Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • Speaking and Listening
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
    • CCR Anchor 6 - Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
  • Language
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.


Grammar, Listening, reading, speaking, writing, Martin Luther King, MLK, notes, note-taking, oral, past tense, PowerPoint, presentation, project, research, rights, video, Wikipedia, biography,, civil, civil rights, Gandhi, vocabulary, Famous People Lessons, Quizlet, Quizlet Live, Academic Word List, Google Slides, Internet, leaders


Padlet, PowerPoint, Quizlet, Quizlet Live, video, YouTube, Adobe Spark Video, Canva, Google Slides, AWL Highlighter

Creative Commons License

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.