Women’s History Month is so important to include in our March school plans, but there is so much to do already. It’s hard as a busy teacher in the classroom to even begin to think about adding extra research, projects, or material to study.
Also, Women’s History is such a big topic that it’s hard to even know where to start. Women have been around forever. What moment in Women’s History is a good place to start with our students?
Two Approaches to Women’s History
If this is your first year really considering how to incorporate Women’s History into your curriculum and lesson plans there are two great ways to start. This can also help your streamline your approach if you’ve been overwhelmed in the past.
I get overwhelmed when I think of adding another thing to study into the busy schedule of vacations, state testing, and regular curriculum I’m expected to finish. However, it’s important that we introduce our students to parts of Women’s History so progress toward equality can continue.
Our students’ views will help shape the future and if we leave them without key knowledge about this aspect of life it will create some limitations in future progress. If we help them learn about it or at least start to, it will help propel the progress of true equality forward.
1. Women’s History Around the World
There are women around the world who have stood for what they believed in. Women who have fought for the job they want. Women who have battled so see a change in culture made. Women who resisted society’s expectations to better the world.
These women often lived thousands of miles apart. They lived in different centuries. They often had not heard about the women before them in other places who worked to create change. These women were the pioneers in Women’s History and Rights and should be studied.
They created change in science, rights, expectations, or career fields. They impacted the world in ways I dream about doing.
If we choose to study women from around the world students will get to know different cultures and time periods. They will learn that great change can stem from one person. They will see how what was done in the past has paved a way for women today.
Where should you start? I always like to have my students research. It puts the responsibility on them. It also lets them have some choice in what will be studied, so it’s more meaningful. If you feel stuck on how to implement a research project like this I have two choices ready to go.
You could also simply pick a few women who impacted the world and create something for those few people. You do not need to cover it all in your curriculum but introduce students to this important part of history.
2. Women’s Rights in the USA: The Suffrage Movement
Over centuries women in the United States fought for the right to vote. It took a long time and a lot of convincing for women to win this battle.
When we study US history, the suffrage movement is mixed into the rest of history. Throughout my textbook, women’s history might get a short couple of paragraphs, but it was never the focus. As a student I had trouble grasping the full picture when it was presented this way. I never understood how hard and long women fought to gain the right to vote.
By pulling the events of Women’s Suffrage in the US onto a separate timeline students will gain a better understanding of it as a whole. They will be able to see all the small steps and battles that women waged to achieve the goal, the right to vote. It’s such an important part of history that it deserves to have focused attention.
If you need a good way to get started I have a Women’s Suffrage Class Timeline Project that’s easy to use.
You can also pick a decade and start by introducing your students to that part of it. If we can just start to introduce Women’s Rights to them in a way that is not in second place to everything else in history it can change the future because they will understand it better.
Separating Women’s History into Two Categories
When I think about women’s history I am not sure where to start because both of these options come to mind, but they are jumbled together. It leaves me in an overwhelmed and paralyzed place. Then I teach neither.
However, when I separated them out and think about teaching Women’s History with just one of these approaches it seems so much more doable. Actually, it was exciting because I love projects like these. Once I can clear my head to visualize what my students will study I get excited to see what they learn.