In Another Man's Shoes

A WebQuest for 11th Grade English

Using Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn

Designed by Melissa Moster

Huck and Jim on raft Introduction | Learners | Standards | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Student Page


This lesson began as an assignment for 11th grade Honors English class at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. I had two goals in mind when creating this webquest. The first was to educate students on slavery so as to enhance their appreciation of the novel. The second was to create a learning experience that would foster critical thinking.

In this webquest, students will study a variety of sources to prepare to rewrite a scene from Huckleberry Finn from the vantage point of Jim, the runaway slave. They will learn about th history of slavery, Mark Twain's perception of slavery, examine images and read personal narratives about slavery. After completing their tasks, student will understand more about this awful time in American history as well as grasp the importance of the narrator in literature.

This webquest will take approximately 7 to 10 days to complete, depending on how long each of your class sessions are.

Take time to read through the following teacher pages before implementing this webquest in your classroom.


This lesson was designed for advanced high school English Literature classes at the halfway point of their study of Huckleberry Finn. It could be used at other grade levels, but you may need to work more slowly through the assignments. You may want to model the type of writing that you desire from your students.

Before beginning this lesson, students will need to understand the concept of unreliable narration. You can introduce this concept to your students by discussing the following movies which have unreliable narrators:

Ask your students what the narrators of these movies have in common. Ask your students if they can think of any other movies or stories with unreliable narrators.

Students should be about half-way through the novel when you begin this lesson. They will need to have basic Internet skills so as to move easily through the webquest.


11.2.4 Make reasonable assertions about an author’s arguments by using elements of the text to defend and clarify interpretations.

11.3.2 Analyze the way in which the theme or meaning of a selection represents a view or comment on life, using textual evidence to support the claim.

11.4.3 Use point of view, characterization, style, and related elements for specific narrative and aesthetic (artistic) purposes.

11.4.6 Use language in creative and vivid ways to establish a specific tone.

11.4.10 Review, evaluate, and revise writing for meaning, clarity, achievement of purpose, and mechanics.

11.4.11 Edit and proofread one’s own writing, as well as that of others, using an editing checklist.

11.4.12 Revise text to highlight the individual voice, improve sentence variety and style, and enhance subtlety of meaning and tone in ways that are consistent with the purpose, audience, and form of writing.

11.5.1 Write fictional, autobiographical, or biographical narratives that:

11.6.1 Demonstrate control of grammar, diction, paragraph and sentence structure, and an understanding of English usage.

11.6.2 Produce writing that shows accurate spelling and correct punctuation and capitalization.


For the most part, students will be working individually. There are, however, a few instances in which students are directed to work in pairs. It is a good idea to pair students of different ability levels. (Although, in an Honors class, most of your students will probably all be working at a high level. If this is the case, pair students with different talents. Good writers with good readers, for example.) Before you begin this Webquest, give students a brief overview of what they are about to do. Please read through the rest of the steps.

  1. Read the Wikipedia entry on the History of Slavery in the United States. This will give you a broad overview of the history surrounding Mark Twain's novel.
  2. Go to the African American Odyssey from the Library of Congress Online Exhibit and read Slavery: The Peculiar Institution parts 1 and 2. This website includes many primary documents. Spend some time exploring these documents.
  3. Now you will create a timeline of the important events that occurred in the history of American Slavery. Your timeline should include at least 5 events. To make a timeline, follow the instructions below
  4. At this point, you may want to have a discussion with the class and have students share their timelines.

  5. Go to the C-span website, American Writers: A journey Through History. Watch the 3 short video clips on Race Relations. Answer the questions that follow in your journal.
  6. Visit The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record Physical Punishment, Rebellion, Running Away website. Explore these images that detail Physical Punishment, Rebellion, Running Away. In your journal, answer these questions: If you were a slave, do you think you would runaway? What if you had a family? What would the consequences be if you were caught? Are they worth it?
  7. Read this interview with LuLu Bowers on the Library of Congress page about American Life Histories. This excerpt is from an oral history interview conducted in the 1930s. Mrs. Bowers was a white woman who apparently had some familiarity with slavery. After reading, discuss the following questions with a parnter. How does Mrs. Bowers describe life both during and after slave times? How credible do you think her description of slavery is?
  8. Go to the American Slave Narratives online anthology. Choose one of the narratives and read about that person.
  9. Read the Narrative of William W. Brown, an American Slave. Scroll down and begin reading on page 13, Narrative. How does this narrative compare to the narrative you read on the American Slave Narratives online anthology? Jot down your ideas for a class discussion.
  10. Now it is time to choose which scene you wish to rewrite. Brainstorm aspects of the scene that will be different with Jim as the narrator. Use Inspiration to map this out. Think about how they will be different and why. If your students are not familiar with Inspiration, you will want to work through a few examples with them.
  11. Think about what you have learned about what life was like for slaves. Using this information, write down what you think are Jim's central conflict's as a character. Write down at least one internal and one external conflict.
  12. Write a rough draft of your scene. Have a peer edit it. When you have revised your first draft based upon your peer's recommendations, please present it to the teacher. When you receive it back from the teacher, proceed to write the final draft.

Resources Needed

The following is a list of necessary resources to be used with this WebQuest.

Websites to used in this WebQuest


The questions students answer and their journals should be used to score how well the student completed the assigned research. There is a section on the rubric for this. There is also a section on how well the student participated in class discussions and for the timeline. The rest of the rubric is designed for the final product—the rewritten scene.

Content Scene excludes major elements of the original scene. Scene excludes multiple minor elements of the orignal scene. Scene excludes one minor element of the original scene. All elements from original scene are included.  
Characterization The character of Jim is minimally realized and believable. The character of Jim is somewhat realized and believable. The character of Jim is partially realized and believable. The character of Jim is fully realized and believable.  
Style There are major problems with the Narrator's personality and voice. Narrator’s personality comes through most of the time
Voice is somewhat appropriate to the character.
Narrator’s personality comes through most of the time
Voice is somewhat appropriate to the character.
Narrator’s personality comes through. Voice is appropriate to the character.  
Spelling and Grammar There are more than 6 minor grammatical/spelling errors, and/or more than 4 major grammatical/spelling errors. There are 5 to 6 minor grammatical/spelling errors, or 3 to 4 major grammatical/ spelling errors. There are 3 to 4 minor grammatical/spelling errors, or 1 to 2 major grammatical/ spelling errors. There are only 1 or 2 minor grammatical/spelling errors.  
Research It is evident that student has performed little of the assigned research. It is evident that the student has performed some of the assigned research. It is evident that the student has performed most of the assigned research. It is evident that student has performed all the assigned research.  
Timeline Timeline included 2 events. Timeline included 3 events. Timeline included 4 events.; Timeline included 5 events.  
Participation Student participated in few class discussions. Student participated in some class discussions. Student participated in most class discussions. Student participated in all class discussions.  
        Total Score  

Credits & References

The Huckleberry Finn and Jim image comes from WikiSummaries Blog.

Many thanks to Katherine Foret and Kristin Weber whose webquest Rewriting Romeo and Juliet was immensely helpful.

Thanks to Sue Erichsen for the sample image from Inspiration.

We all benefit by being generous with our work. Permission is hereby granted for other educators to copy this WebQuest, update or otherwise modify it, and post it elsewhere provided that the original author's name is retained along with a link back to the original URL of this WebQuest. On the line after the original author's name, you may add Modified by (your name) on (date). If you do modify it, please let me know and provide the new URL.

Last updated on June 15, 2007. Designed by Melissa Moster.