Students examine a variety of primary source documents related to the women's suffrage movement. They identify different methods people used to influence and change attitudes and beliefs about suffrage for women. Students then create original documents encouraging citizens to vote in current elections.
examine a variety of primary source documents to learn about the history of suffrage for women;
learn that there are many ways to influence and effect change;
understand that it took the efforts of many people over time for women to gain the right to vote; and
use their knowledge from studying the suffrage movement to create modern day election ephemera.
Before beginning the unit, collect and print out primary source documents from the Library of Congress Web site that relate to strategies used to achieve women's suffrage.
Create motivational displays in the classroom, See these examples of possible displays.
Prepare a selection of primary sources that relate to this sample list of strategies used to achieve women's suffrage. Additional primary sources may be found in the collections listed after these examples.
Lesson 1: Motivational, Brainstorming, and Vocabulary Activities
Motivational Student Activity (10-15 minutes)
Conduct a class vote for a current political candidate with only boys voting.
Tally votes, but do not reveal results.
Conduct a girls' vote.
Reveal the winner, based on the boys' vote.
Add the girls' vote to the boys' vote.
Discuss results. Did the vote change by adding the female vote?
Chart or graph results.
Student Brainstorming Activity (10-15 minutes)
Discuss these questions with students. How would you persuade someone to vote for you? How could you effect change individually or as a member of a group?
Brainstorm and compile a list of strategies that people use to influence others' opinions and, thus, effect change. Refer, if needed, to the list of strategies listed on the Preparation section of this lesson.
Lesson 3: Student Small Group and Class Discussion Activities
Student Small Group Activity (30-35 minutes)
Before beginning, display suffrage vocabulary list prominently in the classroom. Some students might need individual copies of the list.
Divide students into small groups.
Distribute several primary source documents to each group.
Instruct students to examine the documents and to identify strategies that were used by suffragists to influence and change attitudes about suffrage for women.
Have each group generate a list of these suffrage strategies.
Have a reporter from each group share identified strategies.
Compile a class list.
Student Class Discussion Activity (10-15 minutes)
Before beginning, appoint a class recorder to take notes on chart paper.
Discuss the importance of women having the right to vote.
Discuss the struggle and strategies they used to earn suffrage.
Discussion questions might include: Why is women's vote important today? Do more men than women vote today? Why or why not? Is it important to vote? Why do you think people vote? Why do you think people don't vote.
Write a persuasive letter to the local paper encouraging citizens to vote.
Hold a post-election party.
Invite a local candidate or a speaker from the League of Women Voters to discuss elections and voting with students.
As a class, collect items for and create an election ephemera scrapbook or display.
Using the American Memory suffrage timeline, create a suffrage timeline museum to depict major events in the struggle for womens' suffrage. Divide students into research groups based on the time periods and categories listed below. Gather documents and create displays in chronological order. Encourage students to be creative. Invite other classes to visit the museum.
Suggested Time Periods:
1800 - 1849
1850 - 1874
1875 - 1899
1900 - 1920
Divide each time period above into the following categories:
Tip: For current candidates, focus on their issues, education and personal information (family, hobbies, etc.)
Use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast past and present strategies used to win elections.
Students complete a teacher-created rubric to assess their understanding of the ways to influence and effect change, the importance of voting, and their contributions to the group.
As part of the rubric, students summarize their learning in a "learning statement."
After students complete the rubric, comment on their participation and progress for this unit.