Title: Who Was...? (West Virginia Industrial Leaders)

Author: Kathryn Stalnaker

Big Ideas: Publish a researched biography of a West Virginia native who played an important role in the development and advancement of the state's industry and economy.

Essential Question: What role did an individual play in West Virginia's industrial development? How was their role significant to the state's economy?



Social Studies


SS.4.WV.1 analyze the impact of West Virginia's geography on transportation, settlement, jobs, clothing, shelter, services and interaction with others outside of the state.


SS.4.WV.3 pose, research, and answer student-generated questions relating to West Virginia (e.g., primary source documents, magazines, online resources, etc.).


English Language Arts


ELA.4.W.C11.1 conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic (CCSS W4.4).


ELA.4.W.C11.2 recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital resources, take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources (CCSS W.4.8).


ELA.4.R.C3.5 integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeable (CSS R1.4.7).


ELA.4.SL.C14.1 report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace (CCSS SL.4.4).

Learning Plan

Students will select (or be assigned) a West Virginia native who has been/is a leader in West Virginia’s industrial development (e.g., Elias Stifel, Conrad Kirsh, Arthur Boreman, Wm. Stevenson, Michael Owens, Edward Libbey, Milan Puskar, etc.). Using various resources, including print and online, students will research their individual and create a biographical book about their person using the following format Students will cite their sources using an approved bibliography format.


Book Format


Book Jacket: Create a book jacket. The cover should illustrate the subject of the book (use a printed copy of a picture of the person may be determined by the teacher). On the inside flap, write a brief description of the person. On the inside back flap, write a brief description/bio about the author (student).


Book Content: The book should be a well-written biography that includes the person’s birthdate, place, family background, schooling, family life, and how/why they are noteworthy in their field (such as inventions, achievements, acknowledgments, etc.). It should also include the date of their death, if they have passed.

Student Materials

Cardstock for the front/back cover


Access to computer, magazines, encyclopedia, and resource materials


Writing paper (typing it out would add a professional, neater look)


Various colored pencils, markers, and art supplies for creating the cover

Scoring Rubric

Front cover (15 points) must include picture, title, and author


Back cover (15 points) summary should be at least seven well-written sentences


Inside front flap (10 points) should be brief, three to five sentences


Various colored pencils, markers, and art supplies for creating the cover


Inside back flap (10 points) should be at least ten sentences


Contents (50 points) required elements must be present in the biography, must be written well, neat, and contain correct grammar and punctuation




Students may dress like and present their book as if they were the person.

Links & Other Resources

e-WV Business and Industry


Encyclopedia Britannica West Virginia Industry


Lesson Alternatives*

West Virginia Women

West Virginia Governors/Politicians

West Virginia Athletes

West Virginia Authors


*could be modified to include U.S. History or World History