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A Civil Rights Leader Presentation

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Computer(s), Internet access, projector, MS PowerPoint software

Activity Description

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 PowerPoint (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. 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.
    • When were you born?
    • Where were you born?
    • Where did you grow up?
    • When did you get your first job? What was the job?
    • When did you learn to drive?
    • When did you immigrate to the USA?
    • Are you married? If so, when did you get married?
    • Do you have children? If so, when did you have your first child?
    • When did you start school at (name of school)?
    • Are you a United States citizen? If so, when did you become a citizen?

  1. Use a biography reading in class for practice, such as ESL-Library’s free downloadable text and comprehension questions (pdf) about Martin Luther King, Jr.. Print and make photocopies as desired.
  2. 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.
  3. Prepare a note-taking form to include the following information, 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
  4. 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:
  5. Decide how you will get your students to the various Web sites. See the Teacher Tips section below for ideas if you need some.


  1. Teach simple past tense and biography vocabulary.
  2. Have students practice asking and answering questions about themselves and their own biography.
  3. Individually or in pairs, assign or allow students to choose a civil rights leader.
  4. Explain the assignment and show the sample PowerPoint presentation (see Example Document, above).
  5. Show students how to navigate and locate information on the Web site(s) you have chosen for them to use (Wikipedia or
  6. Have students take notes. When students have compiled the necessary information, have them download the PowerPoint template (Example Document, above), type in the information, and insert images.
  7. Have them save their files and share with you (by e-mail attachment or saving on a USB device).
  8. If students are working in pairs, ask them to practice their presentations, deciding who will talk about which slide(s).
  9. On presentation day, open the files, 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.



  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced


Basic Communication

  • (0.2) Communicate regarding personal information

Basic Communication

  • (5.6) Understand civic responsibilities and activities
  • (5.2) Understand historical and geographical information

Basic Communication

  • (7.2) Demonstrate ability to use critical thinking skills
  • (7.3) Demonstrate ability to use problem-solving skills
  • (7.7) Demonstrate the ability to use information and communication technology
  • (7.6) Demonstrate the ability to view the media critically
  • (7.1) Identify or demonstrate effective skills and practices in accomplishing goals
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 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.