Exploring Women's History Month
Explore and celebrate the contributions of the strong women past and present.
By Andrea Ferrero
Women’s History Month takes place each March, providing a time to honor the women who have changed the course of history. The month-long celebration is given a fresh theme each year. For 2012, the theme is Women’s Education, Women’s Empowerment. There are a multitude of ways to develop this theme, building awareness and appreciation for the fairer gender.
Women’s Impact on History
Women and girls have played a tremendous role in the development of our nation and world. While it’s not possible to highlight all of the incredible accomplishments of women, there are many notable contributions that should be shared with pupils. The following facts facilitate dialogue and interest in the classroom:
- Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.
- Betsy Ross is the most famous US flag maker.
- Emily Dickinson wrote over 1,700 poems.
- Belva Ann Lockwood became the first woman to run for president in 1884.
Celebrating Women Through Storytelling
One of my favorite ways to delve into a complex, broad topic is by sharing an engaging picture book. The easy-to-approach format puts students at ease while immersing them in a creatively-illuminated world.
This month, I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to share My Name is Not Isabella, by Jennifer Fosberry. The friendly and whimsical illustrations guide readers into a thoughtfully poignant exploration of the roles and contributions of women in history. As young Isabella goes about her day, she transcends routine experiences such as eating breakfast or riding the bus, sharing that she is not Isabella, she is ______ (Sally in space, Annie the sharpshooter, etc.) After reading the story aloud, your class can investigate the women whose shoes Isabella stepped into. They can also create their own stories, using sentence frames from the story and choosing women from history they admire or respect.
Projects to Commemorate Incredible Women and Their Work
- Presentations are a simple way to integrate the use of technology while providing the opportunity to design and display research on one or several female figures from the past or present. In my experience, everyone enjoyed the chance to explore animation techniques using apps and presentation software.
- Interviews are a wonderful way for children to discover amazing facts about the women in their school and life. After choosing and completing an interview, each young reporter can craft a news story that includes the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, and Why).
- Award ceremonies are a unique way to honor the women that have been researched individually or as a class. This could be done by providing ideas for award categories (science, education, social activism, etc.) and allowing them to choose from a prepared ballot. Alternately, have each individual pick one historical figure to appreciate with a personally-designed award.
Women’s History Lessons:
Highlighting the need to appreciate the women and girls outside of the history books, this lesson prompts each person to choose a female from their life to honor. They then create a piece of artwork and provide an explanation of what makes this person such a powerful figure.
Outlining the resources and steps necessary to complete a research report on a historical female, this resource provides the means to design and carry out an independent women’s history project. It does not include links to any texts or research materials, but it does mention generic options.
After viewing and discussing a wide range of cartoons depicting women and their roles over the years, each person writes a reflective summary on how the perceptions and duties of women have evolved over time.