Present Day Parlor Portrait Pix

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

Middle School

Author Info


Type of Lesson


Type of Project (Individual/Group/Both)


Challenge Question

Monticello, Jefferson’s home, is a reflection and a metaphor of Thomas Jefferson’s life. Throughout his home, Jefferson displays numerous portraits of influential and inspiring people. In his parlor, he displays the “Trinity” whom he considers to be the 3 greatest men: Bacon, Isaac Newton, John Locke. He also displays other important people such as Magellan, the Marquis de la Fayette, and the first 3 presidents. If you were Jefferson decorating the parlor in your present-day Monticello, what inspiring and influential people would you would display on your wall today?


This activity will help check a student’s understanding of Jefferson’s values and the people who embody his vision. Students will also use this framework to identify people whom they find influential and inspiring.


  1. 1. In your small group discuss what makes a person great and why you believe Jefferson chose each of the men displayed in his parlor.
    2. Make a list of character traits which you find inspiring in a person, therefore making them great.
    3. Use your list of character traits to create a word cloud.
    4. Identify 3 people from the 20th-21st century whom embody these traits. You may want to consider individuals from the fields of science, technology, medicine, human rights, politics, business/industry, the arts, etc.
    4. Create your own “Trinity” display either online by choosing 3 images from “My Collection, ” or on paper in a brochure, booklet or poster. Include one textbox below each portrait with a biographical sketch which includes his/her contributions and character traits. Be sure to explain why you consider each of these figures to be worthy.