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Lesson Plans
Paul Robeson: 20th-Century Renaissance Man, Hero In Any Century
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Paul Robeson was big not only in stature. His interests and life were so expansive that to study Paul Robeson is to study the 20th-century experience. In this Web-based lesson, students explore several themes relevant to the life of Paul Robeson and the social, artistic, and political realities of the first half of the 20th century. Students identify local heroes in their communities, interview them, and publish profiles on their school's Web site. Students learn about U.S. history, reflect upon what makes a person heroic, and have ample opportunities to exercise their research, interviewing, writing, and design skills.

Grade Level:


Subject Matter:

Social Studies, Language Arts

Curricular Uses:

Social Studies:
American History, European History, Civics, Values Clarification

Language Arts:
American Drama, Biography Writing

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  •   Investigate the social, cultural, and political climates of the 1920s-1950s through the study of the life of Paul Robeson.
  •   Identify several themes that pertain to Paul Robeson's life and times, e.g., racism, Fascism, or McCarthyism.
  •   List several dramatic productions in which Paul Robeson participated.
  •   Identify the characteristics of a hero.
  •   Learn and practice interviewing skills.
  •   Identify the components of and write a biographical essay.
  •   Write effectively for the Web.

    Use of Internet: Students use the Internet to conduct Web research and to publish their original work.

    This lesson was developed by Sarah Feldman, NTTI National Project Director.