I recently used the Seneca Falls Convention lesson and was pleased by how engaging it was for my students. We started by reading the chapter on women’s history from A Young People’s History of the United States. This helped set up the history behind the Seneca Falls Convention.
My class was properly outraged just by the reading and then I passed out the laws affecting women in 1848 provided in the lesson. We went through each of these and that provided a lot of opportunities for discussion. Next, the students broke up into the different groups of women and read about what struggles they were facing. During this small group work, I listened in on my students’ conversations and was struck by their intellectual engagement with the materials.
The next step, of having these different groups of women with diverse concerns try to come to a consensus, provided my students with a wide perspective on the vastness of the struggle. In the end, we were able to create a great list of demands by using Robert’s Rules of Order, which my students really enjoyed. They were surprised by what demands they had that the women did and didn’t share.
After the first run, I know it’s a great lesson and I plan to use it annually. Thank you so much to the Zinn Education Project for making it available!