Teaching Activities (Free)

Exploring Women’s Rights: The 1908 Textile Strike in a 1st-grade Class

Teaching Activity. By Dale Weiss. Rethinking Schools. 3 pages.
A teacher's reflections about a curriculum unit on women's rights contextualizes the history of the feminist movement within the broader struggle of people working for greater equality in the United States.
Time Periods: 20th Century, 1900
Themes: Labor, Organizing, Women's History
Exploring Women's Rights: The 1908 Textile Strike in a 1st-grade Class (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Women of the Industrial Workers of the World march in New York City in support of the Patterson Silk Strike of 1913. Many women garment and textile workers of the 1910s were active in the movements for equal rights and fair treatment in the workplace. Source: Bettman/CORBIS

While teaching 1st graders in a small working-class town north of Seattle, I always emphasized issues of fairness — both helping students recognize when something is unfair, and teaching that one can always do something to make a situation more fair.

Through many discussions on gender-related stereotypes and giving girls and boys the same opportunities, my students had a fairly basic understanding of gender equity. However, it was also important to me that they understand sexism within the context of the history of the feminist movement and this country’s long tradition of people working for greater equality.

Lesson originally published by Rethinking Schools | Zinn Education ProjectThus I used the opportunity of International Women’s Day to develop a curriculum unit that brought these issues to the fore. The unit took several days, and culminated in a book created by the students.