Women Making History: Classroom Activities

Celebrate women’s history with your students by sharing and discussing content about the inspiring women of today. Below, you’ll find links to Text Sets and accompanying classroom activities about women with fascinating stories. In addition to Newsela’s Text Sets, we’ve asked inspiring women to create their own Text Sets and share more about their personal journeys.

To see all the Newsela Text Sets associated with the collection of resources we have created, you can visit this page.

You can also learn more about each of these inspiring women here.

 Tip: Are you a Newsela PRO subscriber? We’ve highlighted ways to integrate these classroom resources using features exclusive only for Newsela PRO. 

Classroom Activities

Discussion: Women in STEM

Students will assess gender stereotypes as they apply to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). First, have students record 5 adjectives they would use to describe women and have them identify trends in their responses.

Then, assign "Two women join International Space Station crew" and another article or two from these articles about women in STEM to encourage your students to think critically about women in STEM. 
 Tip: Assign Instructions and Teacher Binder Assignments View

Use these questions to guide a class discussion once students have read the above articles:

  • Identify some gender stereotypes you've heard about women. Why do you believe these stereotypes exist?
  • Do you think gender stereotypes affect young girls and their career choices? Why or why not?
  • Recently, more programs and initiatives have been created to encourage more women to enter the STEM fields. What possible solutions would you create to encourage more women to begin a STEM career?

Last, revisit your class's generated list of adjectives. Do students still agree with the adjectives they chose? Why or why not?

Make Connections: Women Challenging the Norm

Students will discover unique challenges faced by women who are pushing cultural and gender boundaries. Have your class read "Muslim girl fighting to box while wearing a hijab" and “Army rule on hair touches nerve among black women” and answer the following guiding questions as they compare and contrast the two women’s stories:

  • How has Amaiya Zafar defied stereotypes by fighting to box in the ring?
  • What parts of Jasmine Richards’ gender and racial identity are being compromised if she wants to continue to pursue her dream
  • How have historical biases contributed to the barriers these women face today? 
     Tip: Customized Write Prompt


Have students look at a historical image of women working during World War II: "Women welders on the way to their job at the Todd Erie Basin dry dock". They should discuss what the image shows, why it was particularly groundbreaking, and how it relates to the struggles faced by the women in the articles above.

Letter Writing: Who inspires you?

Students will write letters to a woman who inspires them. They will use the Women Making History Text Sets, which feature female role models. To complete this activity:

  1. Have students select one of the Women Making History Text Sets and read two articles from that Text Set. Additionally, have students read the contributor profile for the woman who created that Text Set.
  2. Instruct students to analyze the articles the woman chose. Why do you think she picked these articles? How is her life connected to the lives of the women in the articles? Why is it important to have female role models?
     Tip: Use Annotations.
  3. Have each student write a letter to the woman they admire. Use these questions to guide their letter writing:
  • Introduction: What do you find inspiring about this woman? Tell her why you chose to write to her.
  • Body: Think of three questions you would like to ask this woman. What makes you curious about her? What advice could she give you to help you pursue your goals?
  • Conclusion: How is this woman making the world a better place? Tell her why you appreciate her contributions.

Optional: Send images or the text of the letters to Newsela by Tweeting them to @newsela or emailing them to community@newsela.com with the subject line “Letters to Inspiring Women.”

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