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Lesson Plan: The Girl Who Spoke Out for Workers’ Rights
A step-by-step guide to teaching this article in your classroom
Students will be able to describe job conditions of U.S. textile factory workers in the early 1900s.
RH.6-8.1, RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.4, RH.6-8.7, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.2, RI.6-8.9, SL.6-8.1, SL.6-8.2, W.6-8.3, W.6-8.4, WHST.6-8.7, WHST.6-8.9
• Incorporate this article into a unit focusing on the Industrial Revolution.
• Include this piece in a lesson on the history and purpose of labor unions.
• Use this article to spark a discussion about the role of government in protecting workers’ rights.
• Offer this piece as part of a look at the history of child labor in the United States.
1. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT(5 MINUTES)
Study the illustration of the child laborer accompanying this article as a class. Ask: How old does she look? Where might she have worked? What might her working conditions have been like? What clues do her clothes and hair offer about her work?
2. PREVIEW VOCABULARY(5 MINUTES)
Review the definitions of some of the challenging vocabulary words in this article, including advocates, riveting, searing, tedious, and toiled.
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Read & Analyze
3. INDEPENDENT READING(20 MINUTES)
Have students read the article on their own, writing down any comments or questions.
4. CLOSE-READING QUESTIONS(20 MINUTES)
Have students write their answers to each question, or use these prompts to guide a discussion.
Extend & Assess
5. FEATURED SKILL: ANALYZING A PRIMARY SOURCEAs a class, read the skills sheet Analyzing a Primary Source: “Some Horses Live Better Than We Do.” Then have students work with a partner to answer the questions. Ask: What part of the testimony did you find most powerful? Why? How do you think John Boldelar’s experience as a child laborer compared with Camella’s?
6. SEL CONNECTION: WRITING PROMPTReinforce students’ social-emotional learning by having them imagine they are Camella or another young worker in a textile factory in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in the early 1900s. Ask: What are your working conditions like? What sounds do you hear? What do you smell? What do you see? How do you feel several hours into your work shift? Then have students write a journal entry from that perspective, describing their job and emotions about it. Students should include details from the article as supporting evidence.
7. ASSESS COMPREHENSIONFind out how well students understood the article by assigning the skills sheets Know the News—The Girl Who Spoke Out for Workers’ Rights. Go over the answers as a class.
Lower Level Have students work in small groups to list the steps that helped Lawrence factory workers win better pay. Ask: Which step had the biggest impact? Why?
Higher Level Have students research and write a report about factory workers today in Bangladesh or another country. Ask: How does their situation compare with that of the Lawrence workers?
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