Lesson plan

Learning About W.E.B. Du Bois

This lesson plan teaches kids about W.E.B. Du Bois through video and a short informational text. Students will compare/contrast their findings and create a poster in small groups showing what they learned.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Second and third graders are introduced to the writer, sociologist, and civil rights advocate W.E.B. Du Bois with this engaging lesson plan. In Learning About W.E.B. Du Bois, children will watch a video and read a piece of informational writing about this important change-maker, explore the word meaning of important terms such as "discrimination" and "equal rights," and work in groups to create informational posters using what they've learned from the video, text, and additional research.

  • Students will be able to compare the most important points presented by two different sources (e.g., video and text).
  • Students will be able to participate in shared research and writing projects.
(5 minutes)
  • Gather the students together in a comfortable area.
  • Explain to the students that today they are going to learn about a very famous black American named W.E.B. Du Bois.
  • Display the picture of W.E.B. Du Bois and ask students to turn and talk to a partner, explaining if they have ever heard about or seen a picture of this famous person before.
  • Allow a few students to share out their ideas.
(25 minutes)
  • Pass out the Composition Book Note-Taking worksheet to each student.
  • Explain to the students that they are going to watch a video and take notes about what they learn. Read the directions aloud to support student understanding and allow students a few minutes to fill out the topic, format, and what they already know about W.E.B. Du Bois.
  • Play the "Learn About Black History with W.E.B. Du Bois" video (or the video you chose) for students and have them fill out the "New" and "Want to Know" sections. Provide time for students to share out their findings following the video. Record their ideas on the large piece of chart paper in the column labeled "Things We Learned From the Video."
  • Explain to the students that next they will read a short, informational text about W.E.B. Du Bois. Elaborate that you want them to highlight anything new they learned from the text, things they didn't learn or remember learning from watching the video. Pass out highlighters to each student.
  • Pass out the W.E.B. Du Bois worksheet. Read the informational text aloud one time and then allow a student volunteer to read the text aloud. Have students read the informational text a third time in partnerships.
  • Have students share out what they learned from the text, and record their ideas on the large piece of chart paper in the column labeled "Things We Learned From the Text."
(15 minutes)
  • Refer to the following underlined vocabulary words on the worksheet:
    • discrimination
    • equal rights
    • integration
  • Provide students with access to student-friendly dictionaries (online or hard copies) and instruct them to look up the vocabulary words in their dictionary with a partner. Explain to the students that they will record their answers in the section labeled "Part 2" on their W.E.B. Du Bois worksheet.
  • Rotate around the room and support students with completing the task.
  • Allow students to share their answers, and clarify any ambiguity or confusion. Make sure student definitions are similar to the following definitions:
    • discrimination: the unfair treatment of a person or group of people because of their race, religion, gender, or ability
    • equal rights: the concept that every person is to be treated equally by the law
    • integration: people of different races being in the same communities, schools, and work places
  • Ask the students to complete the questions on the bottom of the worksheet in partnerships, and allow them time to share out their ideas as a whole group.
(15 minutes)
  • Put students in small groups of 3–4 students, pass out a piece of posterboard and coloring materials, and allow students access to online devices if available and appropriate.
  • Explain to the students that they are going to create a poster about W.E.B. Du Bois using the information they learned from the video and text. Refer to the large chart and encourage students to use it for support, as well as their worksheets and devices.
  • Tell students that they need to include a picture of W.E.B. Du Bois, two facts about how W.E.B. Du Bois was a change-maker (a person who created change in their community and the world to better the lives of people), and each partner must draw a picture and write a sentence about ways they are helping to make the world a better place.
  • Provide sentence frames to support students, such as:
    • W.E.B. was a change-maker because ____.
    • I can make the world a better place by ____.
  • Rotate around the room and support small groups as needed.


  • Allow students to work in a small, teacher-led group as they create their posters.
  • Provide students with assistive technology that reads text aloud.
  • Support students in recording the information gathered through drawing pictures, words, and simple sentences.
  • Teach students a mini-lesson about W.E.B. Du Bois prior to the lesson.
  • Pre-teach how to use reference materials.


  • Challenge students to find a third, trustworthy resource and compare/contrast their findings (e.g., what does Britannica Kids say about W.E.B. Du Bois compared to the informational text and the video?)
  • Extend student learning by providing kid-friendly books on Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. Give students time to conduct research to learn more about why these two prominent African Americans disagreed with each other. Allow students to present their findings to the class.
  • Extend learning by having students choose another black visionary to research. Use the A-Z African American Visionaries Poster to guide students in choosing someone.
  • Collect student notes and worksheets, and display their posters for others to see. Create a header that reads "Black Visionaries" and guide students to explain their findings to other teachers and peers at their school.
(5 minutes)
  • Display student posters around the classroom and have students complete a gallery walk where they go around the room and review each other's work.
  • Bring the students back together and have them share out one interesting thing they learned from their peers' posters.

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