William Powell Lear, Sr. – 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, www.mcrel.org/compendium/browsw.asp

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 printer and Internet access.

Teaching Strategy:

Knowing more about the life and events of Bill Lear will help students put the autobiographical excerpt in its proper historical context. Have the student’s access, read and study the Resources at the URL addresses listed to learn about the background of Bill Lear, and the aircraft he created.

After completing research about the subject, give the 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 Bill Lear. Some suggested questions to begin a discussion with the students include:

  • What was the student’s overall reaction to the material researched?
  • Did the Resource materials communicate effectively the events as described?
  • Were there any particular literary techniques the writer employed in the story/article?
  • How does the biographical excerpts reflect the historical context in which it was written?
  • How might the researched feature articles reflect the writer’s background or bias?
  • How might the students relate events or motives in the pioneer aviators’ life 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 writer’s excerpts, in the various Resource articles, the personal events that 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 resolutions.


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 that students offer constructive criticism about each other’s work.

Rather than having the students write an autobiographical essay, your class might write a biographical 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.