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 extra time on the great women of the past and present. Here are three ideas I use to blend Women’s History Month into my regular curriculum.
- An introduction to great women (1-2 days): I began (last week) with this Google doodle style project. I provided background information on eight different women, although students were welcome to select a different person and do their own reading. Last year, I had six biographies prepared for students. This year I added Kathrine Switzer a pioneer in women’s running, and Katherine Johnson from Hidden Figures. Several students had seen Hidden Figures and were excited to learn more about Johnson’s life. After reading about the selected person, students create a doodle. We will 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!
- All about the suffragists (1-4 days): 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.
- Celebrating great women from past and present and working on research skills (1-2 weeks): 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 this year. 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 two ways: an essay and another project of their choice such as a movie poster set, a resume, a comic book, or a blog. I don’t always require the essay, but my students could benefit from some more writing time and organizing the essay tends to make the rest of the project more comprehensive as well. Students are in the process of selecting the individual they want to research. Students will work in class and on their own time. I like to have students work in class so that they can share ideas, get feedback and collaborate. 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 this project and I can’t wait to “meet” the amazing women they will be sharing.
Education with DocRunning is a secondary teacher in California. She holds a Master’s in Education and a PhD in Education Policy. In addition to teaching in a gifted program, she also owns her own education policy research firm and is working on her first book. Her classroom and research experience have shaped the student-centered philosophy she takes in developing curriculum. She blogs at Education With Doc Running about teaching as well as what’s going on in the education world. And of course, she runs daily.