Generations of Women Moving History Forward
by Mabel Schumacher, Ph.D., Retired WSPRA Executive Director, Fort Atkinson
The process of creating and maintaining relationships involves building a strong foundation of respect for all people. Districts are challenged to remain vigilant against all types of discrimination. Race, gender, culture, size, learning style-all present unique opportunities for districts to create the desired atmosphere of respect. One powerful tool that districts have is “knowledge.” As students learn more about others, they gain the basis for respect and tolerance. One way to provide students with this critical knowledge is to celebrate the accomplishments of specific individuals and groups. The month of March presents one such opportunity.
According to the National Women in History Project (nwhp.org), the 2007 theme for Women’s History Month is “Generations of Women Moving History Forward.” This theme “presents special opportunities to highlight some critically important historic events, including the 50th anniversary of the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the 30th anniversary of the National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas.”
The following suggestions were taken from the National Women in History Project Web site.
History teachers know that students understand history when it can relate to the students’ lives. It is important to show students how women in history have had an impact in their lives today. Below are some suggestions to help teachers make women’s history available and exercises to do with their students.
- Encourage students to add to the student Honor Roll of Notable Women at the Scholastic Web site (teacher.scholastic.com/activities/women/nominate.htm). Students review a list of women achievers, choose a woman they feel is deserving of the honor, then research and write an essay describing her achievements. The essays are submitted to Scholastic for publication on their site. All submissions that fulfill the requirements of the project will be posted online, and a selection of these will be posted on the National Women’s History Project website as well.
- Schedule staff meeting time to encourage your colleagues to observe National Women’s History Month, speaking about the value to girls and boys alike.
- Do the textbooks you’re using present women’s contributions to the culture and society in every time period? Work with students to fill in the names and activities of women who are missing. For follow-up, send suggestions to the editors.
- Bring together the stories of women’s lives… and commemorative U.S. Stamps! Invite the budding philatelists in your class to bring their collections-or a few of their stamps?to school and to help you launch a new unit about American history.
The results of this creative work can be shared through hallway displays, or by costumed ?time travelers? making scheduled appearances in other classrooms or at a school?wide assembly.
- When developing lists of names for special reports focused on a topic or time period, offer a balanced choice of women and men from diverse American cultural groups.
- In lieu of written book reports about women’s biographies, have students perform costumed skits, construct dioramas, design illustrated timelines, or publish mini-magazines to share with their classmates.
- Each ?Notable Women? Photo Display set from the NWHP includes 30 square feet of photos?and short biographies of 24 women for bulletin boards. Post them individually according to the topic of your lessons, or together for a huge impact.
A brochure about Women’s History Month is available at nwhp.org/whm/2007_whm_brochure.pdf