Walter H. & Olive Ann Beech – Aviation Pioneer Lesson Plan

Grade Range: 9-12

Learning Objectives:

Students will have the opportunity to, "Use their descriptive writing skills to create a first-person essay.

Biography Sources:

National Curriculum Standards:

McRel Standards at,

Language Arts Standards – Writing:

  • Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process.
  • Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing.
  • Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions.

Language Arts Standards – Reading:

  • Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process.
  • Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts.

Tools and Materials:

  • Computers with Internet access and printer.

Teaching Strategy:

Knowing more about the life and events of Walter and Olive Ann Beech will help students put the autobiographical excerpt in its proper historical context. Have the student’s access, read and study the Resources at the Internet URL addresses listed to learn about the background of these aviation pioneers.

After completing research about the subjects, give students time to read the material in the classroom, or have them complete as homework. After the students have digested the material, begin a discussion with them about the material researched. Some suggested questions to begin a discussion with the students include:

  • What was their overall reaction to the material?
  • Did the Resource materials communicate effectively the events described?
  • Were there any particular literary techniques the author employed in the story/article?
  • How does the biographical excerpts reflect the historical context in which it was written?
  • How might the researched feature article reflect the author’s own background or bias?
  • How might the students relate events or motives in the pioneer’s lives to events in their own lives? Can any parallels be drawn?

After the discussion, assign the students to write their own autobiographical essay describing a momentous event in their own lives. Unlike the author’s excerpts, the personal events the students are writing about need not necessarily be aviation related. They should, however, involve the student working towards a well-defined goal. As with any piece of compelling writing, their essay should include moments of conflict and resolution.


Before turning in their essays, you may want to have each of your students read aloud their essays in class. Encourage class discussion about each essay. Make sure students offer constructive criticism about each other’s work.

Rather than having the students write an autobiographical essay, your class might write a biographical piece instead. Assign students to interview an older relative or friend of the family about an event in their life. Again, the essay need not be aviation-related, but it should be a momentous event in the subject’s life. Make sure students compile a list of specific questions beforehand. They will need to conduct a pre-interview with their subject so that they know what event their interviewee will be discussing. A pre-interview is really helpful for students so they can prepare relevant follow-up questions for the actual interview.