Thursday, March 5, 2015

Two New Women's History Lesson Plans--Just in Time for Women's History Month

As many of you know, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in Montana (for non-Indian women) and to recognize that centennial, the Montana Historical Society created a yearlong project we called Women's History Matters. (Read more about that endeavor here.)

We're still tying up loose ends on the project, including editing, testing, and publishing several new lesson plans.

I'm pleased to announce that we have just added two new lesson plans to the Women's History Matters site. Both deal with biographies, but one is designed for use in 4th-6th grades and the other for use in high school (or maybe with advanced 8th graders).

Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things! Connecting Biography to Larger Social Themes Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 8-12)

  • This lesson uses essays published on the Women’s History Matters website to help students explore how ordinary people’s lives intersect with larger historical events and trends and to investigate how people’s choices impact their communities. After analyzing two essays on American Indian women from the Women’s History Matters website, students are asked to conduct interviews with people in their own community to learn about how that person has chosen to shape the world around him or her.

Biographical Poems Celebrating Amazing Montana Women Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 4-6)

  • This lesson asks students to research specific Montana women (by reading biographical essays) and to use the information they gather to create biographical poems. Through their research (and by hearing their classmates’ poems) they will recognize that there is no single “woman’s experience”; women’s lives are diverse and that people can make a difference in their communities.

As cool as these are--and I really like them both very much--my own favorite lesson remains the Montana Women at Work: Clothesline Timeline Lesson that we posted a while ago. Adaptable to a wide number of ages, 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 hope you'll check out the Teachers page on Women's History Matters, try out one of these lessons with your students, and then let me know what you think. I'm always interested in feedback.


  1. There is a generic Great Woman biography sheet available at http://monthbymonth.scholastic.com/teach.html in the Women's History Month pdf. It would be very good for elementary level work.

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