Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Analyzing Oklahoma Historical Figures

Analyzing History 

Chelsee Wilson, Chelsee Wilson | Published: June 30th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course Oklahoma History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2-3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 120 minutes


History courses are filled with people who have "made" history. In this lesson, students will analyze historical figures and make connections about their places in history. Students will research an Oklahoma historical figure of their choice and examine their impact during their historical period, as well as their relationship to other historical figures. This lesson can be used in any history course, but it is best suited to introduce key historical figures at the beginning of a unit or to review key historical figures at the end of a semester.

Essential Question(s)

Do people make history, or does history make people? 



Students participate in a Tell Me Everything activity about Oklahoma historical figures.


Each student chooses a historical figure and begins completing a KWHL chart about that person.


Students research their historical figure to finish the KWHL chart.


Students create posters to profile their historical figure.


Students participate in a Gallery Walk, revisit their KWHL charts, and submit their posters and KWHL charts.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • KWHL Chart (attached, one per student)

  • Historical Figure List (attached, one copy per class)

  • Hat (or similar container for drawing names)

  • Historical Figure Profile Template (attached, one per student)

  • Historical Figure Profile Rubric (attached, one per student)

  • Markers, colored pencils, crayons, pens, pencils, etc.

  • Student devices with Internet access


Begin by displaying slide 4. Ask students to get out a piece of paper to participate in a Tell Me Everything activity. Give students 1 minute to write down the name of every famous Oklahoma historical figure they can think of.

After the time is up, display slide 5 and give students an additional minute to write down everything that they know about the people they included in their lists. Invite students to discuss their lists with a partner.

Display slides 6 and 7 and ask students if any of these people (slide 6: Maria Tallchief and Carl Albert; slide 7: Ralph Ellison and Sequoyah) were included in their lists. If students say no, ask them why not.

Explain to students that there are a number of famous Oklahoma figures who played important roles in history, and it will be the students' job to become experts on ONE famous Oklahoman.


For the Explore activity, each student will need to select a single historical figure to learn more about. Feel free to use the attached Historical Figures List as a starting point and add other historical figures as you see fit. Or, engage students in a brainstorming session to build your own class list. You can choose to cut out the names and have students each draw a historical figure at random from a hat or another container (slide 8), or you can allow students to select which historical figure they'd like to research.

Once students have each selected a historical figure, tell them that they will use a KWHL Graphic Organizer to help them as they learn more about their figures.

Display slide 9 and pass out copies of the KWHL Chart handout. Have students write the name of their historical figure at the top of the chart.

Ask students to fill in the "K" column with everything they know about their historical figure. Allow 3–5 minutes of writing time.

Display slide 10. Ask students to fill in the "W" column with everything they want to know about their historical figure. Give students an additional 3–5 minutes for this part of the activity.

Display slide 11. Ask students to fill in the "H" column with ideas about how they might find the information they listed in their "W" column. Tell students that this will serve as an action plan as they research their historical figures.


Using their KWHL Charts (specifically the "W" and "H" columns) as a reference, students will now consult their history books and/or appropriate online resources to find the information they identified in the "W" column.

Display slide 12. As students research, ask them to take appropriate notes about their findings and write down where they found the information. In their notes, students might include the following information relating to their historical figures:

  • Notable accomplishments

  • Education

  • Connections to other historical figures

  • Interests or hobbies

  • Contributions to their field

  • Interesting facts

  • Importance to Oklahoma history


Give each student a blank sheet of paper, or pass out copies of the attached Historical Figures Profile Template.

Display slide 14. Students will fill in the required information that they found during their research and draw in any images and symbols that they associate with their historical figures.

  • Quote: Which quote best reflects the historical figure? If students find that their figures have many quotes attributed to them, suggest that they select one that they find particularly interesting or meaningful.

  • Five Fast Facts: What are five key pieces of information about the historical figure? Students should highlight these using brief bullet points.

  • Historical Importance: Why is the figure important in the scope of history? Students should write a quick sentence or two explaining why their historical figure is important.

  • Six-Word Memoir: Instead of having students write longer biographies of their historical figures, have them create concise "memoirs" of their figures that sum up their historical importance in just six words.

  • BFF: If time travel were available, which other historical figure(s) would this historical figure get along with the best? Why would they be friends?

  • Worst Enemy: Who would the historical figure despise the most in all of history? Why would they not get along?

  • Image: What does this historical figure look like? Students should draw a picture in the large oval.

  • Symbols: Based on students' research, what four symbols would they most associate with their figures? Students should draw these symbols in the small square boxes.


Display slide 16. Ask students to post their projects on the wall to prepare for a Gallery Walk where they will view their peers' projects. Give each student several sticky notes and have them grab a pen or pencil.

Once students have rotated back to their own projects, give them time to review the feedback and make any changes that they see fit.

Display slide 18. Have students return to their KWHL Charts and fill out the "L" column with what they have learned about their historical figures.

Have students turn in their KWHL charts and research notes. Consider providing formative feedback about their research techniques and providing suggestions that can aid them in their next research project. A Historical Figure Profile Rubric is attached, which you can use to assist with grading students' projects.