Insta for Bio Reports!

Do you always get stumped when trying to think of new ideas for Black History Month lesson plans?   Here is some fun information AND a new idea to try this go around...  

When is Black History Month?

The celebration of Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. Woodson chose that week specifically because it covered the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.  It became a month-long celebration in 1976.  {Source} In addition to the United States, Black History Month is also celebrated in other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom.   Canada celebrates also in February, whereas the UK focuses on Black History Month in October.

Why do we celebrate Black History Month?

In the US, February is a month to really hone in on the achievements of black individuals who gave the world great gifts.  Here are just a few people that students could be learning more about during Black History Month beyond the normal sports and music stars they typically pick to highlight...

Black Poets:

  • Langston Hughes
  • Maya Angelou
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Phillis Wheatley

African American Educators:

  • Fanny Jackson Coppin
  • Marva Collins
  • Maria Louise Baldwin
  • Benjamin W. Arnett
  • David Abner Jr.

Scientists and Doctors:

  • Ernest Everett Just
  • Dorothy Lavinia Brown
  • William Augustus Hinton
  • Alexa Canady
  • Regina Benjamin

Black women in history:

  • Daisy Bates
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  • Wangari Maathai
  • Misty Copeland
  • Carolyn Parker

African Americans in the military:

  • Vernice Armour
  • Lemuel Haynes
  • Maj. Martin Robison Delany
  • Harriet M. Waddy
  • Col. Guion S. Bluford Jr.

A super fun way to integrate technology and important historical figures...

Need a new lesson plan idea for Black History Month that students will be begging to do? Check out this blog post with all the details!
Let's combine social media AND black history to make a biography project students are going to have fun creating and sharing with their classmates.  The best part?  Other than the one planning sheet page, this project is paperless and can be shared anywhere there is an internet connection and device!  Pretty nifty!   You will begin by making sure each student in your class has a biography planning sheet.  {Note:  This project is not limited to Black History Month. It is applicable to any biography project you wish to do at any point in the year!}

Next, students will fill in some facts about their chosen historical figure.  Work from the top down.  They will be highlighting important facts about their person from birth to adult.

Now here's where it gets a little more tricky, but honestly the students who have EVER used Instagram will totally get this, so it might be harder for the teacher in this case.

First:  assign each student a unique-to-them hashtag.  It can't be a hashtag that lives on Instagram already as we will be searching for the student's particular pictures via IG and don't want anyone else's images to appear.

For example:  #mrsprestonsbioprojectstudent1   or #room18student5

EACH student needs to have a different hashtag to identify only their images.  And don't worry if the students don't have their own IG user account - that won't matter.  Have the student write down their hashtag on their planning sheet.

Next - students will search for images to match their facts.  These could be images of their person and/or related images that "tell their story" too.

Students will then use any mobile device that is logged into an IG account.  This could be a private teacher account if the project is completely done at school.  Or it could be a parent account if the project is done at home.  Doesn't matter what account the images are posted under.  As long as their hashtag is used in each message.

IMPORTANT!  When posting their 9 facts, they need to post them according the number on the right of their planning sheet.  Why?  The posts need to be "backwards" so the information about the birth of their person is actually the last one posted - therefore the first one in the feed.

This is what the final feed will look like once the 9 facts and images are added and you sort by hashtag.

This is the best part in my opinion:  Instagram can be viewed on a normal computer!  You can't post from a regular computer (without using a special program anyway), BUT you can view the feed on a regular computer!  Score!

Pull up that feed on your interactive whiteboard and sort by the child's hashtag.  Ask that student to come up and "read" their report to the class by reading the description and forwarding through their 9 images.

In this way the student is sharing fantastic facts about their historical person AND sharing visual images.  I can promise you that the images will really drive the story home about the person of importance as well as their message!

Fun, right? Of course if you have older students who already have Insta accounts, it works even easier, but even if you have intermediate students, this project is easily accomplished with a private teacher account created specifically for this project - and using it to log into iPads in the classroom for students to add their work. Even if students didn't share their work publicly, you could still assess their project without having any papers to take home.  Right there is a winning idea if I ever heard one.  :) Ready to get your students started creating their biography IG reports?  Enjoy this freebie template from me!

I would love to hear how you could adapt this lesson plan idea for your classroom or other ideas you have for Black History Month too!   Stop at Organized Classroom now to grab your freebie and share your ideas!

 Talk to you soon,


This post originally appeared at Organized Classroom.

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