This unit prompts students in a twelfth-grade English class to question and challenge the roles and expectations that are placed upon them by society based on gender identity. By exposing the inconsistencies and contradictions inherent in a binary division of genders, our studies and discussions during this unit will push students to consider that gender identity and labeling need not determine an individual’s behavior, educational pursuits, or career path. Students will use a combination of contemporary and canon literature to reinforce the concepts that we will investigate. Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun will serve as anchor texts for students.
Through this unit, students will learn a broad narrative of the women's rights movement in the United States and elsewhere. We will begin with the present as to why there are still issues with equality among men and women, and search back through history for its causes. My objective will be to correct students’ misinformation and to encourage them to understand why gender inequality in its various forms--political, economic, and social--persists to the present day.
The inspirational examples of influential women will teach students the behaviors needed to succeed in the world. Case studies, informed by the CRAIGs structure, will be our starting point.
While the unifying focus of my unit will be the outcomes of globalization and trade in women’s lives, I have found it helpful to divide the content into two distinct sections—women in “developed” and “developing” nations around the world. The distinction between countries that fall under these labels was not based on my singular judgement, but rather a dichotomy that academics have discussed at length as emerging from the international trade system of the past several decades.1 Some common features that define nations considered “developed” in this system (to name just a few) include a service-based economy, an importation of goods produced from manufacturing/more labor-intensive industries, and a powerful voice in setting global trade regulations. In contrast, a few features that can be used to identify “developing” nations include an export-oriented economy, rapid urbanization, and the implementation of “shock therapy” structural adjustments promoted by global economic organizations. These distinct categories will provide a useful framework for students to gain a fundamental understanding of how different countries around the world interact with the same system. It would, of course, be more accurate to consider these categories as ends of a spectrum—with several nations existing somewhere in between “developing” and “developed.” I plan on addressing this nuance while not only introducing the unit, but also at various points throughout. By contrasting case studies from countries like the U.S. with Bangladesh, I plan to highlight the opposite ends of the same global system while working to avoid the promotion of a dichotomous, uncritical perspective of the world.
In this unit, centered around the core fiction text The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, 8th graders explore the history and implications of stereotyped gender roles, and about modern feminism. In the course of the unit, they respond to nonfiction text, analyze literature, reflect on their own parental expectations and write creatively. The students in my school are from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Material students may be able to contribute from their own ancestral families of origin will enrich the unit and help make it personally relevant. In addition to the expected focus on the stereotyping of women the unit can devote ample time to the stereotyping of boys and men, as well as feelings of entrapment as the result of parental expectations for many young people.
This unit introduces students to the economics of gender inequality. The unit utilizes a series of interactive simulations and discussions designed with three instructional foci: increasing meaningful student-student discourse, using evidence to support claims, and using higher-order thinking strategies. The activities gauge students’ tacit understandings of productivity, equity, and fairness, providing male students an entry point to better understand the female perspective. All activities are mapped to AP units so the unit aligns with the AP Microeconomics standards and sequencing.
This unit begins by examining how social revolutions driven by comparative advantage gave rise to gender inequality. It then examines the relationship between marriage and game theory. The bulk of this unit examines labor markets and the wage gap. Finally, the unit examines gender-biased laws that show how inefficient government regulation leads to greater social inefficiency.
Activities are designed for an 80-minute class with approximately 25 students. Lessons call for students to sit in small groups to facilitate discussion and collaboration. Students will need access to a computer and the internet to complete multiple activities.
As a word of warning, the activities are meant to help students learn to empathize with the disparity caused by gender inequality and may make some students uncomfortable. One activity is designed so students believe their grade is determined in a way that mirrors the wage gap. It may be helpful to give parents a heads up before completing the activity to let them know the experiment will not actually affect their grades disproportionally.
The essential questions of the unit are
1. What social inefficiencies naturally arise in American product and labor markets?
2. What role does the government play in correcting market failures?
3. How can society and the government change current legislature and policy to promote gender equality in the product and labor markets?
This unit is designed to help eighth grade students build a working definition of identity, first by exploring their own identities. Deepening awareness of identity, students will identify different internal and external characteristics to heighten their understanding. This is intended to be a simple way to parse the complex topic of identity. For many students, family and cultural expectations have already predetermined their future. Depending on the structure of their family, these expectations may be based on outdated traditions that may need to be abandoned because they are a mismatch for young generations. Therefore, the priority goal for this unit is to fuel the next generation to maintain and establish expectations that best suit them. Instead of losing their sense of self, in an effort to satisfy and please their family, students will learn self-advocacy.
At the core of the curriculum and educational mission of King Robinson Interdistrict Magnet: An International Baccalaureate STEM School are certain ubiquitous goals which drive all aspects of this unit. Among these goals is to integrate units and individual lessons with the two magnet themes. When done successfully, students become empowered to be responsible, productive and engaged 21st-century global citizens, who are respectful, open-minded, and reflective students with positive attitudes. Through inquiry-based learning, students will use their skills to take actions that lead to positive contributions to the world.
Unit and Task Pacing Guide: This unit is designed for six to eight weeks of instruction. The outline follows forty-five minutes of instruction that is systematic, explicit, and structured for five consecutive days each week.
This curriculum serves to assist middle schoolers develop and explore “femaleness” as a fluid construct of identity. Using literature and nonfiction text, students will be asked to critically analyze female characters, their roles and choices as presented. In New Haven, the current core text being used is The House on Mango Street (THOMS) by Sandra Cisneros, and while this curriculum uses THOMS as a “foundational” text, other texts could serve as viable options. The text serves as a launchpad for whole class and small group discussions. Having a common or a foundational text not only provides students with a shared literary experience from which they can develop a common language, but it also allows students to create a barrier of safety--a level of personal distancing. This personal distancing shifts classroom discussions away from individual experiences that may subject students to judgments that sometimes accompany discussions related to topics of gender and sexuality. Negative judgments would have a deleterious and stifling effect on not only classroom discussions but run contrary to what the curriculum hopes to achieve--a nonjudgmental exploration of women and their roles in the world.
Students will gain voice and language through exploration of the fluidity of the construct of femaleness. The curriculum attempts to expand initial literature inquiries into the female construct by providing students further opportunities to explore, discuss, synthesize and refine ideas using nonfiction texts concerning women, their roles and world placement using various sociological, economic and political lenses. Exposing students to a diversity of voices of and about women through both the dramatic narrative, essays and other multimedia concerning the economics, sociological and political aspects of womanhood should serve as a contextual backdrop which for some students may be a first inquiry into unquestioned acceptance of what it means to be female. The curriculum seeks to compel students to think critically about what it means to be female, look beyond traditional binary frameworks of male versus female, single versus married ideologies and seeks to have them reevaluate what may be familiar female images. It asks students to examine and question the possibility of limitations of their constructs of “femaleness.”
Using reflective writing, small and large group discussions, students will develop voice, and identity, appreciate the multi-dimensions and perspectives contained within the construct of the female and its intersections of sex, class and race. The curriculum forces students not only to gather information about women from fictional narratives and historical sociological, economic and psychological essays but it asks them expend synergistic energy to evaluate various expressions to develop agency, to not be victims and determine their role in the depicting what it means to be “female.”
As a primary-level teacher, I am responsible for creating a classroom that operates as a community, with everyone’s voice included in the day-to-day environment and provides opportunities for students to learn through literature, science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Key components of our school theme include equity and inclusion making social-emotional learning integral to any academic learning that takes place throughout the day. This unit will provide my students the opportunity to build an understanding of how we are all important to help make positive changes the world in the ways that we can.
During this course of study, students will read the short fiction of writers with a broader perspective. It is my hope that through experience of the work of a group of diverse female writers that students will be able to examine an author’s text and life experience in order to determine their point of view. They will be asked to learn about different writers, analyze what aspects of their life are important, determine why it is that they chose this topic to write about, and cultivate their own views about what the writers view as important. Also, during this process, they will have the opportunity to write about what they determine is important.
Roxane Gay states that writing itself is a political act.2 I would agree. I think writing is a way for the writer to exert their power. My students often feel they have no voice, but there are a multitude of ways for underrepresented voices to be heard including, but not limited to, expressing political power. As young people, it is important for my students now to start thinking about what is important to them. In their research, Xu, Mar and Peterson found experience has an important impact on political views. It is important for my students to have experiences.3 While my students don’t have the right to vote, they have the ability to cultivate their voice to determine what issues are important to them and what their stance is on those issues. In the long term, this will be very important when they do reach the age to become voters.
It is my hope that through the study of writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sandra Cisneros, Toni Morrison, and Nadine Gordimer, among others, that my students will start to see how women have regained their power through writing. I want my students to find their voice like Roxane Gay, who overcame adversity and found her inner strength, her inner voice, through the written word .4 This is what I want for my students. I want them to be able to cultivate their own voice to share with the world so they can be heard. One of the ways we will do this, just as Gay talks about in finding her own voice, is through reading the writing of powerful women and my students’ own writing.
During this unit, there will be several opportunities for students to address their experiences as well as take a closer look at the experiences of those written about in the unit. Students will take a journey into the time periods of Apartheid in South Africa and the Jim Crow Era/Civil Rights Movement in America. Students will be exposed to practices that would be described as “man’s inhumanity to man,” but are often left out of Social Studies textbooks and glossed over-- if ever addressed in middle school classrooms.
This unit will be geared toward my Advanced Placement Literature and Composition class, but could certainly be taught in any survey course of English literature, or a course that examines women’s literature.
One objective, part of the AP Literature curriculum, is to teach historical context. This is always important so that students realize that art is a response to real life, and characters’ lives represent real lives shaped by real events. I also want my students to see connections to their own lives, and that the struggles for equity are not futile, but ongoing and necessary. I would like students also to see that a society that suppresses a group of people, is weaker, not stronger, and oppression is something for all of us to fight. And, I would like to open up some dusty-shelf texts to high school teachers who might not consider teaching them.
This unit will ask students to examine the historical boundaries in law, society, and economics for women in medieval literature, and consider how females depicted in stories from these eras might reveal power and agency that is not revealed in laws or politics. The unit will include the ancient Greek play Lysistrata, poetry from Anglo-Saxon England, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and stories from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.