Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #4

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People who Inspire Us: A Biography Lesson

Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Social Studies, History

In this lesson, students explore people that inspire them - whether it is a national leader or hero, a parent or someone in their community. Students can learn about the incredible obstacles they have faced, their leadership, their personalities. The teacher will review with the class a biography on Terry Fox which will act as a springboard to further investigating qualities of people whom they admire. Each student then chooses a person whom he or she admires as the subject of a "Man in the News" or "Woman in the News" article, focussing on the laudable qualities demonstrated by this person in his or her lifetime.



1. WARM-UP/ DO-NOW: In the first five minutes of class, students respond to the following questions (written on the board prior to class):

  • What does it mean to admire another person?
  • What qualities do you find particularly admirable?
  • Whom can you think of, either alive right now or not, who embodies these admirable characteristics, and how?

Students then share their responses. Jot down the admirable qualities listed by students on the board. Discuss why many students in the class view some of the same qualities as admirable.

2. As a class, read and discuss biography on Terry Fox and article on ‘Grandma' by SNN Reporter focussing on the following questions:

  • What obstacles did this person overcome in his/her life?
  • What personality traits are attributed to the person in this article, and how might they have helped him/her to succeed in the face of adversity?
  • What qualities does this person exemptify?
  • How did this person fulfill their dreams?

3. Ask students to each select a person, either whom they know or don't know, and whom they greatly admire. Tell students to write this person's name at the top of a blank piece of paper. Ask students to brainstorm, for approx. ten minutes, what they know about their subjects. Ask students to include qualities that they find admirable in this person, along with specific stories, examples and facts about the person to support their statements.

4. Explain to students that they will be learning more about their selected admirable people and writing biographical profile articles about them. As a class, brainstorm the questions that students feel they should answer about their subjects. Decide, as a class, the most important five to eight questions, and be sure that all students jot down the questions before leaving class, as they will be responsible for finding out the answers.

5. WRAP-UP/ HOMEWORK: Each student researches the admirable person selected in class. If the student knows their subject personally, he or she should arrange an interview based on the questions developed in class. If the student has chosen someone who he or she does not know, such as a celebrity, then the student should use his or her research skills to find the answers to these questions. (The Internet will be the most useful way to locate this information.)

6. After students complete their research, each student writes a "Man in the News" or "Woman in the News" article about their subject, focussing on the admirable qualities demonstrated by this person in his or her lifetime. Student articles should answer the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How). Tell them about the inverted pyramid. This means that articles should be written with the most important information first and the least important last. Review SNN Writing Guide with the students.

7. Once profile articles are written, students can share their articles, either by reading them aloud, by posting them on their school web page, and by submitting them to their school newspaper or an online youth ezine for publication.


Students will be evaluated based on written journal responses, participation in class discussion, and all levels (pre-writing, writing, and editing) of creating their "Man in the News" and "Women in the News" articles focussing on people whom they admire.


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