Odds are you know Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony or Clara Barton. But have you heard of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an early pioneer in the suffragette movement; Janet Rankin, the first women elected to Congress; Memphis Minnie (born Lizzie Douglas) who became one of the top blues guitarists in the 1920s, through the 1950s or Delores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chavez.
March is National Women’s History Month, with the goal of making us more aware of the women who changed American history, business and society. However, just like the right to vote, the push for a month recognizing the accomplishments of women took many years to become reality.
The seeds of the observation began in 1979, with roots in American education system. The week of March 8, 1978 was designated as Women’s History Week by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women. Dozens of schools planned special events and over 100 community women participated in special presentations in classrooms. The finale of the week was a celebratory parade and program held in downtown Santa Rosa.
A year later, other communities across the U.S. joined the celebration and agreed to support an effort for a National Women’s History Week, which was formally proclaimed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Departments of education in many states adopted the celebration and encouraged curriculum to support the effort. Within a few years, thousands of schools and communities were celebrating National Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress officially designated March as National Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.”
Since it gained traction in schools and classrooms, California Casualty’s education guest author Alan Haskvitz has assembled this list of some of the best resources for celebrating Women’s History Month for teachers and students:
Women in history is a topic that is rich in high interest stories and Common Core related standards. Possible integrated lessons can stress diversity, art, history, science and more. Just as importantly is the fact that the stories are compelling and often show the human spirit at its best, when facing challenges that require strength of character as well as determination.
With such a diverse range of options, I like having my students share their reading and research to cover more facts and also to motivate them to read about those women they may never have heard of before. Here is a list of 100 famous women; some may not be appropriate for every grade level, but there are enough to make for some excellent compare and contrast essays. Another fun project, after the presentations and to increase interest and listening skills, is to have the students collect facts about some of these and play 20 questions to see if they can guess who the name of the woman from the clues.
- Women authors who changed history
- Ada Lovelace
A great story about a woman who was the first computer programmer:
- Women in the military
- National History W omen’s Project
A list of the 2014 honorees:
- Pioneering Women in American Memory
A good source of primary source material:
- 25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century
- Common Core reading standards
About the Author: Alan Haskvitz has taught for 45 years and has credentials in special education, gifted education school administration, and all core subjects. He has been inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame and was chosen by Reader’s Digest as a Hero in Education. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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