Jan 07 2009

History Lesson Plan: How to Create Multimedia Profiles

Lincoln meets Gates: Students from third grade on will enhance their tech literacy while they study historical figures.

Technology and history shake hands when students create multimedia profiles.

Understanding the motivations and life experiences of successful, influential people in our nation’s history provides students with a deeper understanding of their own potential. Researching the personal and professional stories of these individuals and sharing these stories with others gives students the opportunity to examine their own hopes for the future while developing research and technology skills.


Students will analyze how diverse cultural, educational and gender experiences influenced the historical figures they are researching. Using information collected through Internet searches, the students will create two products: One will be technology-based and the other will be a type of their choosing.


This project is designed for third- and fourth-graders but could easily be adapted for any grade level. Students can study any historical figure. To create their products, students will need interactive classroom instruction technology, Microsoft Office applications, streaming-video resources, websites for research and for source citations, Timeliner XE multimedia presentation software from Tom Snyder Productions, and Microsoft Photo Story software.


This lesson plan derives its learning goals from the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards for Students. Through this project, students will:

  • demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology;
  • use digital media and virtual environments to communicate and work collaboratively and remotely, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others;
  • use digital tools to gather, evaluate and apply information;
  • use critical-thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.


  • AT&T’s Knowledge Network Explorer includes a Black History Hotlist that provides links to resources on African-American topics and an online treasure hunt that teaches African-American history: www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/index.html
  • NASA maintains a website with astronauts’ biographies: www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios
  • This National Archives website offers a dynamic, interactive collection of photographs, letters and manuscripts in more than 500 categories related to American history: www.digitalvaults.org
  • This American Library Association website offers tips on creating visual presentations: www.lib.jmu.edu/org/ala/tips.aspx#titles


Before beginning, students receive a checklist enumerating the requirements for each type of product. Students are evaluated on how well their product meets the prescribed requirements and on the overall quality of their presentation.

Each student also completes a self-evaluation based on the time spent on the task, interactions with group members and contributions to the group.

Informally, the teacher makes observations on how well students work as partners, the quality of their research, how well they understand their topic and whether their product illustrates their understanding, and how other students react to the presentation.

Teaching Tips:

  • Choose carefully how you group students.
  • Create a folder for each student on the shared student drive on the network for all of the product/technology resources and descriptions.
  • Provide templates for collecting information and citing references so that students will have a permanent record of their work.
  • Provide students with benchmarks and specific goals.