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Lesson: It’s in Your Past


It’s in Your Past


A lesson involving the history of some common fonts


Students will choose a font of their own to research. After choosing the font and conducting research, students will create a typography poster that uses a body font to present the background, and then uses the font itself as the headline and all other decorative fields.


  • Students will conduct online research to gather background information about a chosen font.
  • Students will assess the validity and accuracy of websites by using multiple sites to verify information.
  • Students will create a proper citation for each website they use in their research using proper formatting.
  • Students will produce a poster with the history of the font and visually appealing elements created using only characters of the chosen font.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA.Literacy.W-9-10.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of a subject.
CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
CCSS.ELA.Literacy. L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills — Student Outcomes

Learning and Innovation Skills Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts
LIfe and Career Skills Monitor, define, prioritize and complete tasks without direct oversight
Adapt to varied roles, jobs responsibilities, schedules and contexts
Prioritize, plan and manage work to achieve the intended result
Set and meet goals, even in the face of obstacles and competing pressures
Information, Media and Technology Skills Access information efficiently (time) and effectively (sources)
Evaluate information critically and competently
Manage the flow of information from a wide variety of sources
Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information.
Use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information
Use digital technologies (computers, PDAs, media players, GPS, etc.), communication/networking tools and social networks appropriately to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information to successfully function in a knowledge economy.


120 minutes


Handout: Font List (or create your own based on fonts available)

Handout: Research Notes

Handout: Typography Poster Sample

Computers with Internet access and/or mobile devices

Lesson step-by-step

1. Introduction — 5 minutes

To pique students’ interest, consider beginning with a simple trivial question using three common fonts to ask students which is the oldest and award a prize for the correct answer. Explain that today students will select a font to research in terms of its history and common uses.

2. Research — 50 minutes

Students will pick a font from Handout 3.5a: Font List or a list you generate based on common fonts available to them. Avoid duplication. Students will research their chosen font and record the information on Handout 3.5b: Research Notes. Recording the notes by hand is recommended so students must paraphrase and summarize rather than copy and paste directly from their sources.

3. Application — 50 minutes

After students have finished their research, they will create a poster to present the background information about the font, using the font itself to design elements on the poster, including the headline. (See Handout 3.5c: Typography Poster Sample). The headline should state the font’s name using the font itself. The body of the poster that gives the information researched should be in a font suitable to body copy.

4. Group sharing — 15 minutes

Divide students into small groups for sharing, either on the computer screen or based on printed copies of their completed posters. Students will turn in their posters at the end of the lesson.


Typography Poster


Fair(0 points) Good(10 points) Excellent(20 points) Total points
Design The poster does not have a headline, or it is not presented in the chosen font. No design elements are included, or the elements included are sloppy and poorly executed. The color choices distract from the content, or color has not been used. Black and white is not used effectively and with purpose. The poster includes the headline in the chosen font, as well as design elements created from characters in the font. Some of the designs, however, are poorly executed or not clearly defined. The poster contains color but may not be used properly. The poster includes the headline in the chosen font, as well as design elements created from characters in the font. The designed elements add to the appeal of the poster, and all shapes are clearly discernible. The poster uses color effectively. ____ / 20
Background information The poster does not include most of the background requested: creator, creation date, purposes/ uses, font classification, style and history. The poster provides most, but not all, of the background requested: creator, creation date, purposes/ uses, font classification, style and history. The poster displays a detailed background that includes creator, creation date, purposes/ uses, font classification, style and history. ____ / 20
Writing The body copy is poorly done, sounding as if it comes from a textbook. Very few details are included, and it is confusing or does not keep the interest of the reader. The body copy is written well, and somewhat demonstrates the student’s voice. Although detailed, parts of it sound as if they came from a website and not written by the student. The content sometimes loses the reader’s attention. The body copy is clear and presented in an interesting way, demonstrating the student’s voice and fitting the font style. It is detailed and compels the reader to keep reading. ____ / 20
Grammar/ spelling/ punctuation The poster contains more than five spelling, grammar and/or punctuation errors. The poster contains 3-5 errors in spelling, grammar and/or punctuation errors. The poster contains no more than two errors in spelling, grammar and/or punctuation errors. ____ / 20
Total points ____ / 80