Strength and Courage: Women’s History Month Lesson Plans
The Classroom

Strength and Courage: Women’s History Month Lesson Plans

Newsela Editorial
Feb 16, 2024

When you hear the word “woman,” what other words and phrases come to mind? Do you think about gender roles and changing expectations? Do you think about definitive qualities, words like strong, resilient, and courageous? This short exercise shows the truth: women are multifaceted. They come from diverse backgrounds and cultures and they all have unique stories to tell.

To help your students celebrate the variety of lived experiences of influential women of history and in their own lives, we’ve curated articles, videos, and interactive activities you can use during instruction. Browse the text sets and resources by subject to create your perfect, personalized Women’s History Month lesson plans that you can tie to other topics in your curriculum:

Discover today’s women’s history makers with Newsela Lite

Each week in March, we’re sharing stories of current women’s history events in the making on Newsela Lite! Log in or sign up for your free Newsela Lite account to browse the latest content and share selections with your students.

Dive into women’s history with Newsela Social Studies

 Learn more about trailblazing women throughout history with text sets that cover topics like:

Resourceful women in history

Learn about some of history’s most resourceful women leaders with lessons about those who used what they had to make the most out of life:

  • Discover how the Flappers of the 1920s and their dances helped the women’s liberation movement.

  • Learn how the Daughters of Bilitis organization started potlucks to bring together and empower the LGBTQIA+ community as early as the 1950s.

  • Find out how on Ukraine-based nonprofit group called Zemliachky is helping to outfit the country’s women army servicemembers during the Russo-Ukrainian War.

Women leaders in history

Discover empowering women who took charge and made change in their lifetimes with this informational text set:

  • Teach students about some of the women leaders of the American Revolution like author Mercy Otis Warren, activist Esther DeBerdt Reed, and a leadership group called the Edenton Ladies.

  • Learn about how Northern Black women formed an abolitionist army during the years leading up to the Civil War and how they worked to help emancipate the South.

  • Explore how women forged a path on the American frontier by introducing students to people like Native American Diplomat and spy Molly Brant, frontier scout Anne Bailey, and translator and guide Sacagawea.

Innovative women in history

Women have contributed to some of the world’s greatest inventions and discoveries. Explore the progress they’ve made for all of us with selections from this text set:

  • Read about June Almeida, the woman who discovered the first coronavirus in 1964 and whose work helped scientists fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Meet mathematician Gladys West, who worked on developing GPS for the United States Air Force.

  • Discover how the first team of all-women spacewalkers made history by replacing a broken part of the power grid on the International Space Station.

Courageous women in history

Teach your students about women who had the tenacity to face dangerous situations with resources from this text set:

  • Discover how women disguised themselves as male soldiers during the Civil War to fight in both the Union and Confederate armies… and what would happen if others discovered their secret.

  • See how young activists from the organization AAPI Youth Rising created a history lesson for schools to speak out against anti-Asian violence.

  • Learn about Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert and how she used TikTok to tell her story of surviving time at Auschwitz-Birkenau—and refute Holocaust deniers.

Strong women in history

Use this text set to explore the different meanings of the word strength, and how women athletes have embodied the different definitions over time:

  • Read about how tennis star sisters Venus and Serena Williams made history at the 2001 Australian Open.

  • Discover how a girls’ tackle football team in Utah helps players work through emotions like anger on the field.

  • Watch a video about how Title IX, a law that protects women and girls from discrimination in school, affects youth sports and the athletes that play them.

Making HERstory

All women have the power to make history. Have your students take a deep dive into the lives of influential women like:

  • Patsy Mink, the first Asian American elected to Congress

  • Malala Yousafzai, an education activist for young girls

  • Maya Angelou, a writer, poet, and activist

  • Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina woman to go to space

Then, ask students to interview an inspirational woman in their own lives and introduce the Telling HERStory text set and writing project.

Latinx and Hispanic women speak up

 Use these text sets to learn more about the lives of influential Latinx and Hispanic women like:

Explore Women’s History Month through interactive speeches and primary sources

Take a walk through history with some of the women who changed the world. Explore these primary sources on Newsela Social Studies. Then use the interactive activities on Formative to help students review, retain, and show what they learned from the lesson:

Celebrate women authors and poets with Newsela ELA

Create engaging reading and writing assignments with our ELA Resources for Women’s History Month text set. Some topics that might interest you and your students include:

Women who write

Women authors are making news (and good books and poetry!) all the time. Have students explore these news and nonfiction articles throughout your lesson to provide background information about some of the most famous—and their most favorite—women authors:

  • Learn how Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif” went from a rare manuscript to a full-fledged published book.

  • Read about women authors like Mary Ann Evans, better known as George Eliot, who are finally receiving credit for their works under their own names, rather than male pseudonyms.

  • Discover how two teenage sisters from Michigan started a nonprofit organization to put more books with women Muslim main characters in their schools and libraries.

Celebrating Black women poets

Explore powerful poems from Black women and girls that deal with issues they face every day, like:

  • won’t you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton 

  • Absolute” by Jacqueline Woodson

  • Calling all Silent Minorities” by June Jordan

  • The Bronze Legacy” by Effie Lee Newsome

  • darkskin” by Maren Lovey Wright-Kerr

ELA in the real world: Women changing the world through words

ELA lessons don’t have to be about fictional characters or authors who were alive centuries before your students were born. Explore some selections from our ELA in the Real World collection that cover the works of interesting writers of today:

  • Learn about Denise Lajimodiere, an Ojibwe woman and North Dakota’s first Indigenous poet laureate.

  • Discover how singer and songwriter Taylor Swift’s knack for including literary references in her lyrics led one Belgian university to launch a brand new literature course.

  • Explore how author and poet Jacqueline Woodson’s stories are coming to life on the stage and how she makes her works reflective of the communities she’s lived in.

Women’s History Month novel studies

Create your Women’s History Month lesson plans around novels and books with women main characters for each grade band, like:

Elementary Women’s History Month novel and book studies

Choose from these or other great elementary novel and book studies that focus on women’s issues and characters:

Middle school Women’s History Month novel and book studies

Get your middle school students excited about the books they read with these and other women-themed novel and book studies.

High school Women’s History Month novel and book studies

Suggest novels with strong women characters for your high school students like:

Women’s History Month research projects

Turn your Women’s History Month lessons into a research opportunity with one of these women-centric topics:

Discover women’s contributions to STEM with Newsela Science

Celebrate women’s contributions to science during Women’s History Month (or anytime!) with these engaging text sets:

Science in the News: Women’s contributions

Show students how women are changing the face of STEM today with these great Science in the News selections:

Women in space

Learn about the women braving the final frontier with this engaging text set:

  • Explore the history of women at NASA and the different jobs and opportunities they’ve had with the organization since its founding.

  • Meet scientist Lindsay Rizzardi and look at the research she did to examine twins and see if there were any long-term effects of space travel on the human body.

  • See how women redesigned NASA’s space suits to make them more inclusive and widely available for all genders and body types.

Girls in computer science and technology

Help students learn how the STEM fields are becoming more inclusive for women with this text set:

  • Read about the Battle Born Girls Innovate program that promotes esports careers for women.

  • Learn how the University of Washington increased the number of women computer science graduates to get more women working in the field.

  • Explore what makes coding cool and how expanding AP computer science classes at one school helped attract more girls to the subject.

Women scientists across fields

Learn more about the lives and careers of trailblazing women scientists across different fields with our Girl Power! Female Scientists text set. Some leaders to meet include:

  • Marie Curie, who discovered radium and polonium

  • Maria Mitchell, the first professional women astronomer in the United States

  • Rosalind Franklin, a DNA researcher

  • Lise Meitner, who helped discover nuclear fission

  • Grace Hopper, a computer scientist who invented the world’s first compiler

Women scientist videos

Show your students videos of the life and work of some of science’s most influential women, like:

  • Environmentalists Rachel Carson and Wangari Maathai

  • Physicist Chien-Shiung Wu

  • Marine educator Symone Barkley

Go further with your Women’s History Month lessons

We hope these resources make it easier to help you develop relevant, engaging lessons about women’s history in your class this March. For even more great Women’s History Month content, check out some favorite articles about trailblazers and empowerment from our women staff members at Newsela!

If you liked this article...

Browse more great content from Newsela.

The Classroom

Hit a Free Throw With These NBA Finals Basketball Activities!

Discover how to generate student interest by adding basketball and NBA Finals content to your lessons this spring. Get your free trial today!

Read more
The Classroom

8 Engaging Exit Tickets From Formative

Discover the basics of exit tickets and get a list of some of our favorite exit tickets from the Formative Library to customize & use with your students.

Read more
The Classroom

We Have All Your Summer Reading Right Here

Discover how to enhance your students' summer reading experience with Newsela ELA's Novel and Book Studies collection of over 500 engaging titles.

Read more

Inspire the desire to learn.

Ready to engage, support, and grow every learner?

Contact us