This post originally appeared on the blog A Lesson Plan for Teachers.
Teaching Women’s History Month or any other special topic or holiday in my middle and high school classroom just never fit. Since I taught chronologically in my history classes, and tried to incorporate important women and minorities into my lessons every day, I also found it redundant to go out of the way to add in an extra lesson dedicated just to the significant women when I had so much else (my content) to teach. So what did I do?
Make It About Everyone Every Day
Teaching about women and minorities should not be something we do only once a year. Instead, make sure you create lessons that will always be including all humans that are relevant to the story.
- Use primary sources to add in the stories of all humans as you build your lessons throughout the year. Journals, images, and letters are great tools to add in the different voices in your U.S. or World History lesson.
- Create People Timelines around your classroom for each unit, with students adding information on the important people of the time. Be sure to encourage them to look beyond the textbook and look for the real stories of the past.
- Meet & Greet people from the past with your students. Let students dress up or create character collages after they research the significant people for the unit. Then take a day to “meet” all of the participants. Or, if you want to make it more engaging, hold a tea party, a salon meeting, or an interview show.
Make Everyone Visible
Women (and minorities) should be visible in every lesson you teach. Students, of all ages, should be able to see themselves, and see those who represented them in the past, in every possible topic you teach.
- Use images in every lesson. Start off the unit with great visuals to spark discussion. Always allow students to lead the image analysis and to share what they think is happening before you address the “content” of the lesson.
- Encourage students to create works to display in the classroom (and hallways) where they will see women, men, black, white, brown, and every other human representation. These do not have to be images, but may be symbolic representations – quilts to represent slave women who told stories (often time of escape routes) in their stitching, or sculptures to show the angst or anguish of women who did not have the rights to their own children, or paper dolls to hand around the classroom that depict book characters, significant cultures, or people from history.
- Create bulletin boards that display those who have made a difference in our world. Make it with significant people from history, current humans from all around the world who are making a difference (Think about the kids from Florida who are standing up and making their voices heard), or just pictures of students’ family members to help them see they have a place in your classroom and our world.
Stuck and Just Need a Resource?
If all else fails, and your creative juices just aren’t getting you there, start simple with Biography Cards. Have students study the individual’s contributions, build from the cards with research projects, discuss the individuals and create People Timelines, or just display them on your door or walls to show you are appreciative of the contributions made by women and by all humans from around the world, both present and from the past!
If you need the perfect resource to help you get things started during Women’s History Month, take look at this biography set that has many ideas for teaching about the Significant Women In American History.
Happy Women’s History Month!
I’m Michele Luck, the author of A Lesson Plan for Teachers and Michele Luck’s Social Studies resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers. I love the three Ts: Teaching, Traveling, and Talking, and I’ve spent the past few years traveling the country to talk about my love of teaching and all things TpT has to offer. Now I am returning to teach middle school Social Studies simply because I missed being in the classroom and seeing kids learn. Who knows what adventure I’ll get myself into next!