Mae Jemison once said that you should never limit yourself because of others’ limited imaginations and never limit others because of your own limited imagination. She broke frontiers in 1992 by becoming the first African American woman to travel to space while on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Women’s History Month encourages the celebration of women in history as a way to promote equality among the sexes in the classroom. Writing this reminded me of a time when I was at recess with my students and I heard one of the young men in my class tell the young ladies that they could not play football because it was a “boy’s game.” I smiled at the girls and told the boys that if the girls wanted to play that they could. The exact same day, we were making ice cream in science and one of the girls told her partner that she needed to do the mixing of the ingredients because she was the girl. After these two instances, I decided that I would take some time at the end of our day to have a class meeting to discuss gender roles.
I started the conversation talking about their parents and asking with they did for a living. Many of my students had parents in the military, and we discussed their role in their particular job. I asked my students if a person of the opposite sex could do the job that their mother or father does. “Yes, Ms. Yates of course.” I continued to talk to them and said that although some career and activities are predominantly one gender, this did not limit the other gender to participate. We made a list of all the activities that mostly only men do and another list of activities that mostly only women do. One side had basketball player and race car driver and the other had cook and teacher. We discussed the WNBA and shows such as Top Chef.
I gave them as an extra-credit assignment to find pictures or articles of people in careers that they thought were only for men or for women. It opened my students’ eyes to a world where anything is possible and that there are no limits to what you can do--if you let your imagination fly. I never again heard my students limit their classmates to any activities on or off the playground.
Some students might not know of influential women such as Dolley Madison who pushed the envelope of United States politics in the early 1800’s.
What are some of the lessons that you are teaching in your classroom that focus on the role of women in history?
Use these KLRN Connect clips as you celebrate Women's History Month in your classroom. Note: You must log-in to view KLRN Connect clips
(Grades K-5) A Segment of: Reading Rainbow: Ruth Law Thrills a Nation
Meet Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to receive her pilot's license.
(Grades 6-8) A Segment of: Green Hills: Pearl’s Many Accomplishments
Pearl Buck’s home in Pennsylvania reflected her own imagination. She wrote more than 90 novels and earned many prizes and honors.
(Grades 9-12) A Segment of: American History: The Rise of the 20th Century
Though women have played important roles in wars throughout history, World War II opened the door to new opportunities for American women.
Rocking Riddles (K-2)
Use creative thinking powers, attention to detail, and descriptive words to create a collection of portrait riddles that describe the main characters of WordGirl. Tailor the lesson to include famous women in history.
Webisode 2: Segment 9: Lewis and Clark (3-5)
Examine Thomas Jefferson’s reasons for buying the Louisiana Purchase and the criticism this purchase received. Identify the goals and outcomes of the Lewis and Clark expedition and discuss the contributions of York and Sacagawea.
Women in Baseball (6-8)
Role-play women who participated in some form of baseball (amateur, semi-professional, or professional) as well as other advocates of women’s sports as guests on a modern-day talk show.
Comparing Historically Significant Women in Power (9-12)
Study other historically significant women and examine how these women came into positions of power, their success in these positions, and their common background.
Activity Packs from PBS Teachers
Explore educational resources and activities from PBS Teachers with Activity Packs. Each one focuses on a curricular theme and includes links to great PBS resources and supplemental activities. In Women’s Rights: Then and Now, learn how women finally gained the right to vote in the United States after almost a century of activism and consider how women’s rights have evolved over time. This Activity Pack includes lessons on Women’s Suffrage and women in Congress.
PBS TeacherLine's online courses are approved by the Texas State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) and count towards required CPE hours. You can take our free, two-hour orientation course, Practice Learning Online with TeacherLine, to prepare for online learning. Enter the course through your My Courses page. In order to take the free orientation course, you must first join PBS TeacherLine. Join for free.
PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest
Teachers! It’s time for your students to sharpen their pencils, get out their crayons, and let their ideas fly! The 2nd Annual PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest is running now through April 27. We’ll be looking for stories from boys and girls in Kinder – 3rd Grade. Everyone who enters gets a certificate, and the top place finishers in each grade level will win some great prizes. Click here to download a Writer’s Guide that has some terrific tips for helping your students create stories. Special thanks to John and Cheryl Vollmer and to the Dalkowitz Foundation for their support of this year’s contest.