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African American Famous Firsts: Summary and Presentation Skills Using Infoplease


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

Activity Description

Infoplease Famous Firsts by African Americans
Source: Infoplease Famous Firsts by African Americans (License: Protected by Copyright (c) [i.e. screenshot])

This site presents a vast array of articles and images on a host of subjects .(check Browse tab)  Students can read about African American History,  History and Timelines, Contemporary Issues and Facts, Biographyies and Special Features, Holidays, Education and Awards With the information, students create a timeline of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. In this assignment, students read about Famous Firsts by African Americans.


  • Become familiar with Web site. There are many different directions that are possible from this site.
  • Decide what to use for class discussion and what to use for follow-up assignments. Save the Example Document to an online shared site such as Dropbox, Google or save it to a flashdrive


  1. Go through the Web site to preview information. As a class, read the information at the example web site.
  2. Have students prepare a timeline using the Microsoft Word template, Example Document- in pairs, as a group, or independently.
  3. Have students share/publish timelines.

Teacher Tips

If you have students make timelines, consider using Canva.

More Ways

This same site offers information about Civil Rights Leaders, Governement Officials, Religious Leaders, Scolars and Educators, Scientists and Inventors, Entertainers and Atheletes. Use the document, Black History Timeline Using Microsoft Word. 

Program Areas

  • ABE: Adult Basic Education
  • ESL: English as a Second Language
  • ASE: High School Equivalency Preparation
  • ASE: High School Diploma


  • Intermediate
  • High
  • Intermediate High

Lesson Plan


Ask the question what are famous firsts that you are aware of? Discuss this with your class partner include events and people.

Gather students to share what they discussed in pairs, now with the entire class.


The class will be exploring and celebrating the acheivements of African Americans who have made significant 'firsts' in various fields. Brainstorm with your partner famous African Americans you are aware of. As a class, make a list on the board.

The assignment will be done in pairs. It has four parts(the teacher determines this):

  1. Explore Famous Firsts by African Americans to find and learn about 'trailblazers', 'movers and shakers' and famous 'firsts." 
  2. Write a summary of what is learned. Practice peer review.
  3. (Additional assignment:) Create a five slide presentation in either Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint.
  4. Present the slide presentation to the class. Class members will critique the presentation using a class made rubric.

Ask the question, if you wanted to learn about someone what would you want to know? Create a list of questions you think are important. Work with you partner to create the list. 

Gather as a class to discuss and select the "Famous First Questions" .

Demonstrate the  Infoplease site: Famous Firsts by African Americans.


Engagement Enhancement

Have student pairs go to the site, explore it, and find the person they want to learn about. Pairs read about the person, taking notes that answer the Famous First Questions determined by the class. Create the summary in a shared Google Doc so both students can contribute.

After completing the summary, pairs share their summary with another pair of students. Evaluate each others' summaries looking for

  1. clarity (were there any places where you were confused or wanted more information?),
  2. organization (Did the format make sense?), 
  3. content (were all questions answered?).

Go back as original pairs and  edit the summary using the other pair's suggestions. Add the second pair's names to the bottom of the summary and share the summary with the teacher.

Engagement Enhancement

(Additional assignment:) Create a five slide presentation in either Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint.
Present the slide presentation to the class. Class members will critique the presentation using a class made rubric.

Discuss (first in pairs, then as a class) what should be in a class presentation?

Suggestions: Answer the 5 Ws: Who is the person, When did they live, Where did they live, What did they do that made them famous, Why is this a significant  or important?

For this assignment, pairs of students will present their slide show to the class.  As a class, create a rubric to use for the slide presentation. 

See suggested document Rubric to use for Peer Review (suggestions made by ChatGPT:



Engagement Enhancement

In pairs, students use Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint to create a 5 silde presentation on their Famous First Person. Share the presentation with another student pair to ask for suggestions. Does the presentation fulful all the criteria on the class rubric?

Engagement Enhancement

Students share their summaries with the class. At the end, students ask for questions from their classmates.

Students share their presentations with the class. Classmates use the class made rubric to evaluate the presentations.

Engagement Enhancement Extension

First as pairs then as a class, discuss how the tools, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint might be used in the workplace. What are ways the class/students could improve use of these tools? Brainstorm a project allowing students to review and improve their skills.



  • Language Arts - Reading
    • Analysis
    • Comprehension
    • Inference and Interpretation
  • Language Arts - Writing
    • Organization of Ideas


  • Reading
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    • CCR Anchor 3 - Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
    • 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.
  • Writing
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • 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.


high interest reading material, hyperlinks, Microsoft Word, oral report, publish, reading practice, report, research, timeline, timeline template, writing practice, black history, Black History Month, Britannica, collaborate, collect data, group work


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AI Reference

ChatGPT was used to assist in generating this lesson plan.
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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.