Women's Suffrage for Grades 6-8
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
The focus for older students in Women's Suffrage is on the decisions and solutions involved in winning the right to vote. Students will read background information on the fight for women's suffrage and its eventual success in the United States and around the world and will write a persuasive essay on why women should or should not be allowed to vote.
- Discover the history behind women's suffrage
- Develop vocabulary related civics and citizenship
- Explore world and U.S. maps
- Draw conclusions about patterns in women suffrage dates
- Make personal connections to suffrage history
Set Up and Prepare
- Depending on the grade level and maturity level of each class, activities can be facilitated as independent work, collaborative group work, or whole class instruction.
- If a computer is available for each student, guide students to the activities.
- If you are working in a lab, set up the computers to be on the desired website as students walk into class. If there are fewer computers than students, group the students by reading level. Assign each student a role: a "driver" who navigates the web, a timer who keeps the group on task, and a note taker. If there are more than three students per computer, you can add roles like a team leader, a team reporter, etc. If your classroom is set up in collaborative groups, try learning stations. Have rotating groups working on the computer (s), reading printed background information, holding smaller group discussions, writing first drafts to a given writing prompt, etc.
As a class, discuss women's suffrage in the United States. Have women always had the right to vote in the United States? What were attitudes toward women in the past — focus on periods of history that students may have recently studied like the American Revolution or Civil War. Write on the board any ideas and facts students bring to the discussion.
Before the class, print copies of the articles available in History of Women's Suffrage to hand to students. Students should individually read each article, circling the vocabulary words they find within the articles.
Once students have read and understood the articles, send them to the computer stations to take the interactive, Show What You Know quiz. Students should print their final page and turn it in for assessment. If computers are not available, you can print the quiz beforehand and have students return the printout for assessment.
Continue the lesson by directing students to read Effie Hobby's story on voting in 1920. Alert students to the Think About It question on the bottom of each page in Effie Hobby's story. These thought-provoking questions allow students a chance to write responses in their notebooks.
When students have completed the Show What You Know quiz and Effie's story, regroup as a class to discuss what they have read. See Discussion Starters below. Focus students on why some people wanted women to vote while others were against the idea and what world events might have allowed people to change their opinions. Expand the discussion women's rights around the world. Do women have the right to vote in every country?
Hand printouts of the Voting Dates Fact Sheet (PDF) and direct students to the When Did Women Vote? section of the activity. Depending on the availability of computers, you may assign individual students to each computer or group students according to reading level. If time a concern, you can break half the class to explore the U.S. map while the other half explores the world map.
With their filled out Voting Dates Fact Sheet (PDF), have students discuss any patterns they see in the years that different countries and different states adopted women's suffrage. What can we learn about these patterns and the changing attitude toward women's rights over time?
Explain to students that they are taking a virtual trip in time, back to 1920. The states are about to vote on whether to pass the 19th Amendment. Each student is going to write a persuasive essay to convince an audience either to vote for the 19th Amendment or to vote against it. As a class, make a list of arguments they can make in support of and against the amendment.
Direct students to the Writing Workshop Persuasive Writing project, where students will be directed through the step-by-step process of writing a persuasive essay. Students should hand in a copy of their persuasive essay for assessment as well as publish their essay online.
- Why did women ask for the right to vote?
- What were the arguments for and against allowing women to vote?
- Which countries were the first to allow women to vote? Why do you think these countries were ahead of others?
- Which countries do not allow women to vote today? Does this reflect women's rights or do men have the right to vote in these countries?
- What arguments were made for not giving the women the right to vote before World War I? How was this evidence supported? How did these attitudes change after the war?
- What tactics did suffragettes use to persuade government officials to change the suffrage laws? Were these tactics always effective?
Supporting All Learners
International Reading Association (IRA) & National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Standards:
Women's Suffrage helps students meet the following standards Sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA).
- Students use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion, and exchange of information.
- Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (libraries, databases, computer networks) to gather and communicate knowledge.
- Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts.
- Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- Students conduct research by gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing data from a variety of sources, and then communicate their discoveries to different audiences for a variety of purposes.
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS):
Women's Suffrage meets the standards of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which promote the development of students as good citizens in a culturally diverse, interdependent world. The content and activities of this project are especially appropriate for the themes of:
- Time, Continuity, and Change: Students focus on how the world has changed in order to gain perspective on the present and the future.
- Individuals, Groups, and Institutions: Students study interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.
- Power, Authority, and Governance: Students study how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.
- Civic Ideals and Practices: Students gain an understanding of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.
Technology Foundation Standards for Students:
- use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity
- use technology tools to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences
- use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences
- use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources
- use technology tools to process data and report results employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world
Formal Assessment Ideas
Writing a Persuasive Essay: Pro- and Anti-Suffrage
Have students go through the steps in Writing Workshop: Persuasive Essay. Each persuasive essay should focus on either convincing others that women should have the right to vote or taking the stand that women should not have the right to vote. Make sure students have edited their articles and printed a copy for formal assessment before publishing online. See Persuasive Essay Writing Rubric.