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CNN Student News Learning Activities: Women's History Month

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  • Students will learn about the significant roles women have played in shaping history
  • Students will examine events in the struggle for women's suffrage
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(CNN Student News) -- Use these activities to encourage your students to learn about and appreciate the significant roles that women have played in shaping U.S. and world history.

1. Profiles in Women's History

Have each student select a famous woman from history. (Students may narrow their choices by selecting fields such as entertainment, sports, politics, education, business or the military.) Next, refer students to the "Don't Miss" box and other online and print materials to conduct research to learn about the lives and times of these women. Instruct students to note these women's accomplishments and any obstacles that they might have had to overcome to achieve their goals. Then, have students create a classroom or an online exhibit that pays tribute to these important women. Challenge students to share their findings in a school-wide or community-wide celebration.

2. Women's Suffrage in the U.S.

Remind students that the 15th Amendment, which was ratified in 1870, made it illegal to deny someone the right to vote on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. And while some people pushed for women's suffrage to be included in the 15th Amendment, women did not achieve the right to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Have students work in groups to research the major events in the long struggle for women's suffrage in the United States. Encourage students to post their findings in an illustrated Timeline of Women's Suffrage. Then, use the following questions to help guide a class discussion:

• Why do you think that women's suffrage was not included in the 15th Amendment?

• Why do you think that it took so long for American women to gain the right to vote?

• How do you think that women's suffrage affected women and society in the decades following the passage of the 19th Amendment?

• What social and political issues have concerned women throughout the 20th century? Were women unified on those issues? Explain.

• What social and political issues do you think concern American women today? How do you think that female votes may impact these issues?

3. Female-Only Institutions

Ask students: What female-only institutions exist in our society? What are some reasons why these institutions might exclude men? Using online and print sources, have students research female-only institutions, including single-sex schools, team sports, and sororities. Then, use the research and the following questions to help guide a class discussion about female-only institutions:

• Why were these institutions formed?

• What role do these institutions play in our society?

• How might these institutions be beneficial to their members and to society?

• In your opinion, do these institutions pose any drawbacks for members of either gender? Explain your answer.

Correlated Standards


Standard II. What are the Foundations of the American Political System?

- Disparities between ideals and reality in American political and social life

Standard III. How Does the Government Established by the Constitution Embody the Purposes, Values, and Principles of American Democracy?

- Judicial protection of the rights of individuals

Standard V. What Are the Roles of the Citizen in American Democracy?

- Relationship among personal, political, and economic rights

The National Standards for Civics and Government ( are published by the Center for Civic Education ( ).

Social Studies

Standard II. Time, Continuity and Change: Students will learn about the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

Standard VI. Power, Authority and Governance: Students will understand the historical development of structures of power, authority and governance and their evolving functions in contemporary U.S. society as well as other parts of the world.

Standard X. Civic Ideals and Practices: Students will examine the ideals, principles and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.

The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies ( ) are published by the National Council for Social Studies ( ).

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