Social Sundays: Integrating Women's History Month in Secondary Social Studies

It's March...Women's history month.  Although we study women all year long as part of our regular units, much of history focuses on men.  So, in March, I make sure we spend a little time on the great women of the past and present.  Here's the plan for this March:

  1. An introduction to great women:  I began (last week) with this Google doodle style projectI provided background information on 8 different women, although students were welcome to select a different person and do their own reading.  I've done this project before.  This year I added Kathrine Switzer a pioneer in women's running and Katherine Johnson from Hidden Figures.  Several students have seen Hidden Figures and were excited to learn more about Johnson's life.  After reading about the selected person, students create a doodle.  We display the doodles in the class all month long.  This is an especially great activity for flipped classrooms in which students do their research the night before the activity and then come in and create a doodle.  The doodles have the effect of intriguing other students about women they didn't know much about.  It's just like the real Google doodles!  Seriously, who doesn't learn something from the Google doodles that appear.  I have discovered many fascinating individuals from them.
  2. All about the suffragists:  In my US history class, we will be creating a newspaper about the Suffragist movement.  
    Sometimes, I do this as a 90 minute activity, but this month we will be spending a few days on the project so that students can examine and analyze individuals and events in more depth.  Students work in collaborative groups to produce a one to two page newspaper that includes featured stories, opinion pieces, political cartoons and more.  I am challenging students to include a piece on the state of women's rights in the US today and also to create one piece that looks outward at women's rights in another part of the world.  It's important to not teach history in a bubble, and I am always looking for ways for students to connect the past with the present.  I can't wait to see this year's newspapers.
  3. Celebrating great women from past and present and working on research skills: My other social studies class will complete an open-ended project.  I have given students a long annotated bibliography of women to be the possible subject for their research.  As with most of my projects, students have the opportunity to argue for an individual not included on the list.  For example, I had a student ask if she could research Elizabeth Warren.  Students need to be able to justify the addition as someone who was or is likely to be noteworthy in our broad (or individual) history. Students follow guided steps throughout the project to pace themselves and ensure that they gather enough information to present and analyze.  This year, I am asking all students to present their project in 2 ways: an essay and another project of their choice such as a movie poster set, a resume, a diary, or a set of artifacts.  I don't always require the essay, but my students could benefit from some more writing time, and putting together the essay tends to make the rest of the project more organized and comprehensive as well.   Students are in the process of selecting the individual they want to research.  On Monday each student will let me know their selection (and yes, two students can select the same person.)  Students will work in class and on their own.  Projects will be presented at the end of the month at a community event (TIP: students tend to step up the quality of their work when presenting to an external audience, so bring in the community when you can.)  My students are jazzed about all the student choice in the project, although many are less excited about the essay.  Well, you can't please everyone!
What will you do to celebrate women's history month?  Watch Hidden Figures?  Read I Am Malala?  Investigate women's history month through the National Archives? Share your ideas in the comments below and grab some new ideas for your class.

Social Sundays is a bi-weekly post sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching social studies.  If you have questions or think there is something I should share, you can leave me a message in the comments below or at the store in the question and answer section.  



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