Webquest: Portraits of African-American Heroes



photo courtesy of http://www.brandywinepeace.com



photo courtesy of http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia



photo courtesy of http://www.union.edu/PUBLIC/SOCDEPT




photo courtesy of http://faculty.washington.edu/qtaylor




photo courttesy of http://www.hickoksports.com




photo courtesy of http://www.jazzkeller.com/website_tech


photo courtesy of http://shs.westport.k12.ct.us/jwb/Collab/




photo courtesy of http://img.slate.com/media/114000/114859



photo courtesy of http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images




photo courtesy of http://afam.nts.jhu.edu/bin/l/u/carson.jpg



photo courtesy of http://news.siu.edu/photos/brooks.jpg











Photo courtesy of http://www.anselpitcairn.com/images/portfolio/portrait_heroes.jpg

Portraits of African-American Heroes

by Tonya Bolden

Now that you have finished Portraits of African-American Heroes, a collection of biographies of famous African-Americans, think carefully about one person from the book that particularly interests you and that you may want to further research. Also, be sure to examine the paintings in the book by Ansel Pitcairn. At various points throughout the Webquest, you will be asked to make journal entries, so have your journal handy! Good luck!

The Objectives

1) You will gather and present information on one of the people in the book that personally interested or intrigued you.

2) You will create a short biography of one of your classmates by thinking of pertinent questions and interviewing them.

3) You will illustrate your biographical page to make it more interesting to the reader.

Questions to Consider Before Getting Started:

Write down your responses in your journals before proceeding.

1) What makes a good biography?

2) Was Portraits of African-American Heroes an example of a good biography? Why or why not?

Task 1: Research

To begin, choose one person in the book who particularly interests you. You will then research that person and create a presentation about them to share with the class. You must use at least 3 different sources in your research. Be sure to read the research tips below- They will help you find sources, evaluate websites, and cite your sources.

Examples of presentation formats include:

  • Oral presentation/speech
  • Informational poster
  • Book
  • Pamphlet
  • Theatrical or dramatic piece
  • Any other format (ask the teacher first!)

Journal Entry: What questions would I ask this person if I could meet her/him?


Useful Places to Begin Research:

The library- the librarian can help you locate informational books and biographies for children.


* You may not use Wikipedia as a source.


Citation Help:


Other Resources:

  • Online encyclopedias (WorldBook Online, Encyclopedia Brittanica, etc.)
  • other search tools available at your school


Task 2: Become a Biographer

To complete this task, you will need to interview one of your classmates to create a biography. The student that you interview will be randomly selected by your teacher. You have plenty of examples of biographies to refer to give you ideas. Your journal entry for this section will help you complete the task.

Journal Entry: What questions will you need to ask for your interview? Write down at least 10 questions that you will ask your classmate to gather information for your biography. If you have trouble thinking of questions, refer back to Portraits of African-American Heroes or any of the other biographies you used in your research during Task 1 and think about the information those biographers chose to include. You may want to include similar information in your biography.

Step by Step: Becoming a Biographer
1) Write down at least 10 important questions that you will ask your classmate.
2) Set up a convenient time and interview your classmate. Be sure to write down their responses or tape record the interview so you can refer to them when you begin to write.
3) Based on the answers you received from the interview, write your biography about your classmate.

Helpful Websites:


Task 3: Become an Illustrator

Now that you have written a biography of your classmate, you will need to illustrate it, just like Portraits of African-American Heroes. Pictures make a book much more interesting to read, so think about what would look pleasing to the readers of your biography. Your journal entry for this task will help you evaluate what makes a good illustration.

Journal Entry: Did you like the illustrations in Portraits of African-American Heroes? Why or why not?

You do not necessarily have to draw your pictures. You may use any artistic medium:

  • black and white drawing
  • color drawing
  • collage
  • painting
  • photographs
  • combination of any of the above
Questions to Consider:
1) What mood do you want your portrait to convey? Choose colors that fit the mood.
2) Do you want to portray the person realistically (as they appear in real life) or abstractly (not realistic, but representational, using different symbolic shapes and colors)
3) What do you want to emphasize about the person? How will you emphasize it artistically? (for example, if s/he is interested in music, perhaps you want to include some music notes in the background or depict her/him playing an instrument)




At the conclusion of this project, each student will be evaluated on their journal entries, their research presentation, and their biographies.

Individual Evaluation






Student has completed all entries and has fully developed answers to each question. Student has completed all entries, but has only partially developed answers to some questions. Student has not completed all entries.

Grammar and Spelling

Entries contain few or no grammar or spelling errors. Entries contain some grammar or spelling errors. Entries contain many grammar or spelling errors.


Student has a broad range of ideas and has demonstrated a great amount of creativity and thought in all entries. Student has a broad range of ideas and has demonstrated some creativity and thought in most entries. Student does not have a broad range of ideas and demonstrates little creativity and thought in most entries.


Research Presentation


Presentation displays a great amount of thought, effort, and creativity. Research is presented in a clear, interesting, and informative manner. Presentation displays some thought, effort and creativity. Research is presented in a clear, interesting, and informative manner. Presentation does not display much thought, effort, or creativity. Research is unclear or irrelevant.


Information is accurate and clearly presented. Some information is inaccurate and/or unclear. Most information is inaccurate and/or unclear.

Citation of Sources

Student used at least 3 sources, and they are cited correctly. Student used 2 sources, and/or did not cite correctly. Student used 1 or no source and/or did not cite sources at all.
Organization Information is clearly organized. Information is somewhat organized. Information is not organized.
Creativity Student consistently used creative questions, layout, and writing style. Student used some creative questions, layout, and writing style. Student did not use creative questions, layout, and writing style.
Portrait Portrait is thoughtful and creative, taking into consideration mood and emphasis. Portrait is thoughtful and creative, but may not consider mood or emphasis. Portrait is incomplete or missing.




Background photo courtesy of http://www.neatorama.com/images/2006-02/civil-rights-birmingham.jpg

If you have any questions, email Kaleigh Boysen