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National Women’s History Month lessons and resources

In 1975, the United Nations declared March to be International Women’s History Month and March 8 International Women’s Day. Later, in 1981, several women’s groups convinced Congress to declare a national Women’s History Week in the United States. In 1987, after lobbying by the National Women’s History Project, Congress expanded the week to a month.

The point is pretty obvious. March gives us a chance to take a very intentional look at the impact of women in history. It’s also a great time to examine how we can all work together to improve the rights and living conditions of women and girls around the world. But like other history months, don’t let March fool you. This is not a one time thing. Like I said back in February:

Too many of us still use February to have kids memorize random black history facts and call it good. (We also seem to have a habit of doing the same thing with women’s history and Latino history and Asian American history and Native American history and . . . well, you get the idea.)

Integrating the beliefs, values, actions, and impact of women into our content is an ongoing, year long process. But it’s a habit we need to get into and it can sometimes be difficult finding resources to plan lessons and units around.

Need a few starters? Kick off your research here with a post I wrote several years ago. Never underestimate the power of a 15 year old girl.

Then head over the Women’s History Month site co-sponsored by the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. You’ll find online exhibitions, audio, video, and teacher resources.

The Teaching History site has pulled together their learning and teaching resources into one place.

Examine the changing cultural perceptions of women in society and honor their contributions in these lessons and activities created by the National Education Association and organized by grade level.

USA Today has compiled a month long list of women’s notable events and achievements.

The National Women’s History Museum has some powerful online exhibits and a ton of educational resources.

In 1848, women suffragists gathered in Seneca Falls for the first Women’s Rights Convention. The National Park Service honors that event with a Visitor’s Center and a site at the house of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. You can find a variety of helpful resources.

Clio Visualizing History hosts five different online history exhibits. Click focuses on “the collective action and individual achievements of women from the 1940s to the present, exploring the power and complexity of gender consciousness in modern American life.”

EDSITEment has some of the best humanities resources anywhere. Their focus on women’s history is typical EDSITEment awesome.

The Mission US site came out with a historical simulation called Mission US: City of Immigrants that focuses on Lena Brodsky, a fourteen year-old Jewish immigrant from Minsk, Russia who arrives in the United States in 1907. Students simulate a variety of historical realities faced by women in early 20th century New York through several days of Lena’s life over the course of two and a half years.

The New York Times Learning Network asked their  2016 Student Council – 25 teenagers from around the United States, China, South Korea, England and Canada – to search the Times and find the most interesting pieces they could on the broad topic of gender.

You can do it.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hi, Glenn,

    Thanks for this. We created a bunch of women’s history resources and lesson plans in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Montana in 2014: http://mhs.mt.gov/education/women. All of our lessons have a Montana focus or connection but there are three of our women’s history lesson plans that could be easily adapted or modified and, happily, they are among my favorite of our lesson plans:

    * Montana Women at Work: Clothesline Timeline Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 4-12) This primary-source based lesson asks students to analyze historic photographs to draw conclusions about women and work from the 1870s through the 2010s. Students will discover that Montana women have always worked, but that discrimination, cultural expectations, and changing technology have influenced the types of work women undertook. [I love this one because it is tremendously engaging.]
    * Women and Sports: Tracking Change Over Time (Designed for grades 4-8) In this lesson aligned to both Common Core ELA and Math standards, students learn about how Title IX (a federal civil rights law enacted in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in education) changed girls’ opportunities to participate in school sports by collecting and analyzing the data to look at change in women’s sports participation over time. [I love this one because it is truly interdisciplinary–reading, math and social studies AND because it has students conducting authentic research.]
    * Hazel Hunkins, Billings Suffragist: A Primary Source Investigation (Designed for grades 7-12) In this lesson, student historians will analyze photos, letters, newspaper articles, and other sources to learn more about the suffrage movement as experienced by Billings, Montana, native and National Woman’s Party activist Hazel Hunkins. [I love this one because it makes politics personal. It includes letters home from Hazel to her mother, talking about her activism, her hopes, her fears, her cat….]

    Don’t know if you’ll find these useful, but thought they were worth sharing with you.

    Best,

    Martha

    ​Martha Kohl
    ​Historical Specialist
    ​Montana Historical Society
    ​PO Box 201201
    ​225 N. Roberts
    ​Helena, MT 59620-1201
    ​444-4740 land line
    ​444-2696 fax
    ​www.montanahistoricalsociety.org

    ________________________________

    March 16, 2017
    • glennw #

      Martha,

      Thanks so much for the lesson links! Montana has such as rich history of supporting women’s voting rights, love these lessons. If people haven’t been to your site, they really need to check it out.

      I also just ran across your older site that also has some great ideas and lessons: http://montanawomenshistory.org

      Great stuff on both places. Thanks for sharing!

      glennw

      March 16, 2017
  2. Benjamin Wright #

    Glen,
    Thanks for making this blog, it is full of great ideas and links. This particular post is very relevant to our immediate time. I wanted to share the statement for the recent Women’s March as well. This statement shows just how far our culture has progressed in this regard.

    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/584086c7be6594762f5ec56e/t/5877e24a29687f9613e546ff/1484251725855/WMW+Guiding+Vision+%26+Definition+of+Principles.pdf

    Thanks

    April 29, 2017

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