Students in Dale Scott’s American literature class at Lumberton High School in North Carolina spent the month of March learning about the women’s rights movement in the United States through LDC. Scott, an English teacher for over 11 years, created and piloted her first module this school year.
“I always had this unit in my mind, and had even tried to develop ones like it in the past, but was never able to pull all of the pieces together,” says Scott. She credits LDC’s framework with helping her engage students on modern issues by looking through a historical lens of the women’s rights movement. LDC, she says, “also made me think about the end point—what writing and synthesis skills I wanted my students to come away with when they finished the lesson.”
Scott originally set out to create a module on women in combat, using the U.S. military’s recent decision in January to allow women to fight on the front lines as a starting point. However, she says, “When I started with general questions on women’s rights, my students knew very little. They needed context to be able to think about this current issue.” She decided to expand the module to a full four weeks to provide her students with more foundation on women’s history, including the women’s suffrage movement and women’s struggle to enter the workforce.
Scott selected resources to engage her students and received support to develop her module from Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) literacy coach Linda Mabe. “Linda provided encouragement through this process, helping me to create the tasks and to build a realistic timeline for the module.” Scott says this module was a good opportunity for her students to read nonfiction texts.
In one class, students compared the Declaration of Independence’s grievances against the King of England to the Declaration of Sentiments’ grievances against men in the United States. Noting that her students responded well to visual material, she also incorporated films, advertisements, and posters, like the one of Rosie the Riveter. Her students particularly enjoyed an online educational video on women’s suffrage set to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
Scott chose to do an argumentative task, for which she asked her students to write a speech on women fighting in combat. Her students were required to support their arguments with resources. “I saw a difference in my students; I have never seen them so engaged.” Scott says she knew that college writing requires critical thinking and synthesis, and she feels that LDC’s writing tasks helped her hone in on the skills her students needed to learn to be college-ready. The students were not just learning facts about women’s history, but actually developing an argument on a modern-day issue using information they learned from their historical research.
While she will continue to refine this module, Scott is not stopping there. This experience inspired her to create a module on racial equality, and she is currently selecting texts and using the template tasks to hone them into a full unit. “LDC modules are a great way to teach topics like these. It provides a useful structure to connect history to current issues.”