Women in History

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The Basics


Subject Area and/or Course Title:

Civics/U.S. History


Targeted Grade Level:



Time Required:

12 class periods


Related Standards:

LAFS.8.RL.1.1: Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. Cognitive Complexity:  Level 2: Basic Application of Skills & Concepts

LAFS.8.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text. Cognitive Complexity: Level 3: Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning

LAFS.8.RL.1.3: Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision. Cognitive Complexity: Level 3: Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning

LAFS.8.RL.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts. Cognitive Complexity: Level 3: Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning

LAFS.8.RL.2.5: Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style. Cognitive Complexity: Level 3: Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning

LAFS.8.W.1.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content. 

a. Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

b. Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

c. Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

e. Establish and maintain a formal style.

f. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.

Cognitive Complexity: Level 4: Extended Thinking &Complex Reasoning

LAFS.8.W.2.6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others. Cognitive Complexity: Level 2: Basic Application of Skills & Concepts

LAFS.8.W.3.7: Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration. Cognitive Complexity: Level 4: Extended Thinking & Complex Reasoning

LAFS.8.SL.2.5: Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. Cognitive Complexity: Level 3: Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning



MaryEllen Falvey


The Lesson


Introductory Narrative to Lesson:

This unit may be used in a variety of ways depending on where in the curriculum it will be placed.  It would be perfectly placed in a Civics Course when the topic of Women’s Suffrage (1840s – 1920s) and The Right to Vote (19th Amendment) are studied.  As a US History teacher, I use the unit to build up to Women in History Month (March).  The students are reminded of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and discuss the changes they know of over the period of time from the 1840s – present.  Beginning in January, a new activity is worked on every other week through February.  The final activity involves interviewing a woman in history that the students know and creating a research paper based upon responses provided during the interview.  The interview and responses are due in mid-February for grading purposes and presentation date arrangements.  Then, each week in March, invite their interview subject to attend their student group presentation.  Each activity in the unit may stands alone to introduce music into the curriculum and make the connections of the social relevance of music and history, or the lessons may be combined and used as an entire unit.  This is an also an excellent unit to use for “teaming” as I usually work with my technology teacher and language arts teacher and “team teach” each aspect of the unit with the technology teacher teaching the software and movie/powerpoint skills, the language arts teacher honing writing and reading skills while assessing the writing, and I, as the history teacher, discuss social issues, provide the background knowledge and support the research.


Instructional Goals or Objectives:

  • Students will analyze the words and message of a song to determine its relevance to the women’s suffrage movement.
  • Students will work in small groups to determine the story behind the song
  • Using a Comparison Matrix graphic organizer, students will compare and contrast two songs to determine the similarities and differences of how women were treated in the 1950’s and 1960’s in life and in song.
  • Students will analyze the impact of women’s suffrage on today’s society
  • Students will create inquiry based questions for their personal interview
  • Students will use technology of their choice to create a video of their interview
  • Students will identify and research a woman in history and complete a well-written paper summarizing key facts and information.
  • Students will present their completed project to the class.

Procedures/Lesson Activities:

Lesson-1: Day 1- 3
Lesson plan: "Rights of a Woman"
Unit: Women In History
Class: Social Studies/US History
Grade(s): 8th Grade (Secondary)
Duration of this activity: Three class periods


After studying the Women’s Suffrage Movement previously in 7th grade Civics and throughout the current school year, this song activity will be one of the introduction activities for a Women in History Unit designed for 8th grade students to recognize Women in History Month.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review the history behind the women’s suffrage movement.
  • Students will identify and define key vocabulary terms in the “Rights of a Woman” (VAT) song.
  • Students will create new lyrics for the song using 2015 terminology.
  • Students will create a songbook to record their new lyrics

Teaching Strategy: Story Behind the Song

  • “Rights of a Woman” lyrics (attached) and recommended recording of the song, https://app.showevidence.com/library/preview/id/1199919.
  • Construction Paper for songbook cover.
  • Copy Paper for new lyrics
  • Laptop Cart
  • Hole punch for book binding
  • Yarn for book binding
  • Scissors to cut yarn
  • Markers for decoration

Focus questions:

  • When do you think the song, “Rights of a Woman” was first published?
  • What are the rights for women that are determined in the song?
  • How do you think members of society of the time reacted to this song?  By men?  By women?
  • What role do God and Patriotism play in the message of the song?
  • How does the message of this song relate to the woman’s suffrage movement of the early 1900’s? Today?



  • Students will be instructed to quietly listen to the song Rights of a Woman.
  • Students will be given a copy of the lyrics of the song to read as they listen to the song for a second time.
  • Students will work in pairs to identify and define key vocabulary terms in the song to determine meaning.
  • Students will create a songbook and write new lyrics to the song using their own vocabulary.
  • Songbooks must have a cover with the title of the song and name of group participants.
  • Using a laptop, each of the eight stanzas must be typed on a page of copy paper.
  • Students will punch holes along the left edge of the paper to bind their work.
  • Students will cut pieces of yarn to secure the pages.
  • Pairs will present their songbook to the class.
  • Songbooks will be displayed in the classroom.
  • The class will take a gallery walk to review the songbooks.
  • Songbooks will be on display during the Month of March
    Master a skill and/or understand/apply a concept:
  • Students will understand the desire, determination and duration of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
  • Students will re-write each of the 8 stanzas of the song using vocabulary from 2015.


Lesson-2: Day 4 - 6
Song Activity 2
Lesson Plan: "Run the World (Girls)"
Unit: Women In History
Class: Social Studies/US History
Grade(s): 8th Grade (Secondary)
Duration: 3 days

Learning Objectives/Outcomes: Students will gain an understanding of how the lyrics of a song can relate to personal thoughts and feelings and, bring awareness of social issues while the song itself can set the tone or mood of the piece.

Teaching Strategy: I Can Hear It Now


  • Copies of the lyrics for "Run the World (Girls)," (attached) and recommended recording of the song, Glee’s "Run the World (Girls/Clean)": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYPN60rdMFU
  • Notebook paper
  • Pencils or Pens

Instructional Procedures:
Step One: Students will listen while the teacher plays the song “Who Run the World (Girls)" sung by the cast of GLEE.  Teacher will say, “I’m going to play this song again, this time, listen with your eyes closed. As you listen, think about all you have learned about Women’s Rights and what makes this song relevant to celebrating women in history.  Now close your eyes and think about these questions—you don’t need to answer them out loud...”

  • Ask the first few questions before you start replaying the song (speak slowly and pause between each question to allow students plenty of time to think):
  • Who is singing this song?
  • What is the singer thinking about?
  • Where is the singer?
  • Who is the singer singing to?
  • Why is the singer singing this song?

Step Two: Teacher will say: Open your eyes. Take five minutes and write a paragraph trying to paint a picture in words of the empowered scene you imagined while the song was playing and the relevance to today’s society compared to music of 1795.

  • Students will write or draw briefly. Step Three: After five minutes: Teacher will ask for volunteers to share their stories with the class.
  • The teacher records the list of the people and places on the board as the students provide them. (Try for as great a variety as possible by encouraging students with a different scenario to volunteer).
  • Ask students to provide their thoughts about the different people and places where this song might have been performed.
  • After a good variety of scenarios have been listed, ask students to point out some of the most diverse situations. Then discuss the importance of context in historical inquiry. Ask students:
    • How does the song’s meaning change for each of these people?
    • What mistakes could you make if you tried to interpret the message of a song without taking the time to imagine its context?


Lesson-3: Day 7 - 9
Song Activity 3
Strategy: Graphic Organizer - Comparison Matrix
Song Titles:

  • “Wives and Lovers” sung by Jack Jones, 1963 (VAT)
  • “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter, 1992
    Topic Addressed: Women in History: The changing roles of women at home.


  • Students will compare two songs from different decades to identify the similarities and differences of the song’s singer/voice, theme/message and tone/mood.
  • Students will summarize their analysis in a 5-paragraph essay.


  • Copies of the lyrics for both songs (attached).  Recommended recordings:
  • “Wives and Lovers” sung by Jack Jones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZbusN-n8rE
  • “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter,
  • Comparison Matrix Graphic organizers – one per students
  • Laptop cart

Focus questions to use inside the classroom:


  • Do women and men have specific jobs that they are expected to do at home or in a relationship?
  • What was society like in the early 60’s regarding the roles of women and men?
  • Do your parents or guardians have specific expected roles or jobs in your home? 
  • Are there specific skills that you have (boy or girl) that you feel you are better at than someone from the opposite sex?
  • Are there any limitations of abilities among the different sexes?

Duration of Activity: 3 Days

Activity Procedure:

  • Play both songs for the students and ask them to listen to the words without taking notes.
  • Pass out Comparison Matrix Graphic Organizers.  Define the term attribute and provide examples.  Provide directions to students so that they will successfully complete the form.
  • Play the songs a second time and ask students to complete their graphic organizers as they listen.
  • Students will write a 5-paragraph essay summarizing their notes from the graphic organizer.

Master a skill and/or understand/apply a concept.

  • Students will identify similarities and differences between two songs.
  • Students will complete a graphic organizer/comparison matrix
  • Students will summarize information into a well-written 5-paragraph essay


Lesson-4: Day 9-15 (Plus additional days for presentations of projects)
Lesson Plan: Woman In History Interview Project
Topic Addressed: Writing the History of a Woman You Know



  • Students will conduct an interview to research the life of a woman they know.
  • Students will use inquiry-based questioning skills to obtain factual information from their interview subject.
  • Students will use technology to create a video of their interview.
  • Students will complete a detailed research project based upon information provided from their interview subject.
  • Students will present their completed interview project to the class



  • Printed Women in History Project Paper (one per student)
  • Laptop Computer Cart
  • Printed Lyrics
  • Rubrics for each type of project (iMovie or slide/powerpoint presentation)

Assessment: See Attached rubrics

Duration of Activity: 6 Class Periods


  • “Wives and Lovers” (VAT)
  • “I Am Woman”
  • “Run The World (Girls)"

Activity Procedure:
Project Day 1

  • Pass-out Woman In History Interview Project Direction Sheet
  • Review each section of the directions with the class (read each part)
  • Teacher introduces the project.
  • Explain that students will work in groups of four to complete the interview project.
  • Each group will have the following positions and responsibilities:
    • Recorder: Keep track of all information obtained in the interview and research material.
    • Editor: Edit all writing and presentation material
    • Webmaster: Create iMovie or slide presentation using information obtained during interview and from group research.
    • Writer: Write interview script, adding additional required questions. Organize well-written research paper with assistance from group members.
  • Identify what an interview subject is and the selection process.
  • Discuss why students must select a woman over 55 (to observe and record the largest difference from that generation to their generation).
  • Review the polite way to request an interview
  • Review and clarify mandatory listed questions:
    Teacher reviews each question provided by modeling responses as the interview subject based upon their personal history and ideas. 
  • Discuss possible additional questions both for gathering new information and/or to clarify information from previous responses.
  • Review the polite procedure for interviewing their subject.
  • Answer each question and provide possible extension questions that will provide additional information to the interview.
  • Openly discuss the differences for women from the time you were young until the present day.
  • Discuss different technology that may be used to record/video each interview. 
    Remind students that they may use their own equipment, but the final interview must be able to be shown in class.
  • Explain that students may use PowerPoint or Keynote to create a slide presentation of their interview.
  • Explain that students may use iMovie to create a video of the interview.
    • Each presentation must have an opening slide or frame with interview subject’s name and group member names.
    • Groups are encouraged to add music to their projects using Garage Band, Audacity, Tone Pad, Firo, or other means of music making.
    • Slide presentations must include pictures of the interview subject and other photos to support information gained during the interview.
  • Teacher will clarify questions and concerns
  • Teacher provides answers to questions regarding requirements for thank you notes and invitations to students’ class presentation of project.
  • Discuss the research paper requirement.
  • Provide due dates for each step of the project. 
  • Groups will be provided two weeks to obtain an interview subject and to conduct their interview.
  • Teacher will play each required song and discuss the songs and their lyrics with the class to determine meaning, message and social impact.
  • Copies of the lyrics for both songs (attached).  Recommended recordings:
    • “Wives and Lovers” sung by Jack Jones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZbusN-n8rE
    • “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter:
    • “Run the World (Girls)” sung by the cast of GLEE

Project Day 2 - 6 (Two Weeks later)


  • Groups will begin research project based upon the famous woman in history identified by their interview subject.
  • Groups will utilize the laptop cart to complete their research.
  • Students will summarize their research in a well-written paragraph following all of the instructions of the Woman in History Project sheet.
  • Students will hand in their completed research paper on Day 6 of the Project.
  • Groups will present their interview projects each week in March to honor and recognize Women In History Month.  Interview subjects will be invited to attend as the student’s special guest.  Groups will share their completed research papers with their interview subject.

NAME _________________________                                        Period __________________              

Women in History Interview Project:
Writing the History of a Woman You Know

Women’s history is more than the story of famous women.  It is also the story of ordinary women who have lived quietly outside of the spotlight of history’s most important events.  All women have made contributions to our country.  As mothers and grandmothers, they have raised children and passed along from one generation to another the customs and values that are so important to our heritage.  They have played important roles in their communities, supporting schools and participating in volunteer organizations that work to help others.  As we focus on the contributions of women, we invite you to take a closer look at the life of a woman you already know.  Chances are you will discover that you don’t know her as well as you thought you did!

Who to Interview:  You will need to select a female as your interview subject.  She should be the oldest woman you know; an older relative (55 years old or older!), a neighbor, family friend or perhaps a woman who works at the school.  Try to think of someone whom you would like to know more about. (If there is a problem locating a woman to interview, please see your teacher ASAP.)

Requesting an Interview:  Like any reporter preparing for an assignment, you will need to request an interview.  It is a good idea to be able to explain why you want to interview your subject, what kinds of things you would like to ask and how much time it will take (You should allow at least 30 minutes to complete your interview). Remember to be courteous, say “thank you” and don’t forget your manners!

Preparing for an Interview:  Good reporters prepare for an interview by thinking about their questions ahead of time.  Think about what you would like to learn.  You will want to ask about your subject’s “life story.”  Here are 12 mandatory questions for the interview.  You must also add at least 8 more of your own questions.  You should have a minimum of 20 questions. 

  1. What are three important dates in your life? Why are they important?
  2. How would you describe or define “the women’s movement” and its impact on your life?
  3. I would like to play you a song that was popular in the 1960s.  What do you think of when you listen to the song, “Wives and Lovers” by Jack Jones?
  4. How are things different today for women than they were when you were a young girl?
  5. Do you think your life may have been different if you had been born a male?  Would you have a different job?  Be more or less successful?
  6. Now I would like you to listen to the song “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy.  Do you recall how you felt about this song when you were younger?  Do you think the song was a good predictor of the changing roles of women in society?
  7. Who were the female role models in your life when you were young? What did you learn from them?
  8. Do you think women have equal rights today?  Why or why not?
  9. Do you think a woman will ever be elected president? Why or why not?
  10. The final song I would like to share with you is “Rule the World (Girls)” by Beyonce. 
    • After listening to this song, what message do you think it has for women and young girls in today’s society?
    • Think of a song that “touches you” and your life and explain why selected this song.
    • Name a famous woman in history that you admire and explain why you admire her and how she has impacted your life in a positive way.

Post Interview:
Send a thank you note or email to your interview subject, thanking them for their time and inviting them to attend your presentation. 

Interview Subject Project:
Technological Presentation: Think about the many different variety and interview shows that are on television.  Create a videotaped or powerpoint/slide show interview of your subject using your own questions and the mandatory ones provided.  Please be creative with your video/presentation.  You may add commercials, music, and an audience.

Research Report: During your interview you are expected to identify a famous woman in history who your subject admired in some way (see the final question).  After researching the woman identified, create a typed paper about this famous woman following the criteria below.

  • Who she is/was (background information)
  • What her accomplishment(s) are/were (describe the timeframe and steps required to achieve this accomplishment).
  • Describe what happened as a result of her accomplishment(s).
  • After you complete the interview and the research make sure to provide an explanation of why you think this woman impacted your interview subject’s life and provide examples of how this occurred in your concluding paragraph.


Required steps:

  • Identify a woman in history to research from your interview.
  • Use index cards to organize the information for each of the parts listed above.
  • Compile the information into a well-written research paper (700 – 1000 words).
  • Turn in printed papers, include a coversheet/title page with the famous woman’s name, your name and your class period
  • A complete bibliography should be the final page of your research paper.


Presentation: Each project will be presented to the class in the month of March.


Assessment and Evaluation:

  • New Song Lyric Rubric
  • Class discussion and complete paragraph.
  • Completed Comparison Matrix and 5-paragraph essay (see rubric)
  • Rubric for Presentation



Women in History Presentations



Title: "Run the World (Girls)"
Information: Beyoncé, and Andre 3000. 4. Parkwood Entertainment, 2011. CD.
Recommended Recording:

  • Glee’s Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5RBXESrEJo
  • Beyoncé’s Clean Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUkzewC7Y_A

The song was recorded by Beyonce Knowles and released on her fourth album entitled, “4” in 2011.  Beyonce wanted to provide a mix of cultures, eras and styles and an entirely new and different sound.  It was her desire to provide a message to give women strength. The song is best known for its alternative hip-hop, dance-hall genre mixed with R&B and pop styles.

Title: "I Am Woman"
Information: Reddy, Helen. Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, 1972. Web.
Recommended Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUBnxqEVKlk
The first recording of this song appeared on Helen Reddy’s album, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” which was released in 1971.  It became the number one hit in 1973, selling over a million copies.  It is best known as the anthem for the women’s liberation movement celebrating the empowerment of women.

Title: "He Thinks He'll Keep Her"
Information: Carpenter, Mary Chapin, and Don Schlitz. ""He Thinks He'll Keep Her" Lyrics." MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER LYRICS. Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, CAROL VINCENT & ASSOC LLC, 1993. Web.
Recommended Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH2hzModqCk
This song was first released in 1993 on Mary Chapin Carpenter’s album, “Come On, Come On, and was Carpenters first number one hit. A take-off of a 1970’s Geritol television commercial where a man points out all of the positive attributes of his wife by saying, “My wife, I think I’ll keep her” Carpenter wanted to paint the picture of a woman who goes through the steps of a marriage, apparently happy, apparently doing everything she can to keep her husband happy and finally decides that she has had enough of the charade of this unhappy marriage and decides to leave him in order to find her own happiness.




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