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Who Was...?

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

4th Grade Standards and Lesson Plans

Social Studies Standards

SS.4.17 analyze the impact of West Virginia's geography on transportation, settlement, jobs, clothing, shelter, services and interaction with others outside of the state.

SS.4.19 pose, research, and answer student-generated questions relating to West Virginia (e.g., primary source documents, magazines, online resources, etc.).

English/Language Arts Standards

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.

Notes to the Instructor: 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.

Please see the Who Was...Scoring Rubric

Notes to the Instructor: Additional Notes

The lesson can be modified to include: WV Women, Governors and/or Politicians, Athletes, Authors, or could include U.S./World History.

Materials and Other Resources

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

e-WV articles on Business and Industry

Encyclopedia Britannica article on West Virginia Industry

Museum Hours of Operation

Operating Hours:

Tuesday through Saturday

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

***Closed Sundays and Mondays***

Closed all National Holidays except Memorial Day weekend

Admission is free

For more information call: (304) 558-0220