Snapshots: The Decades
Western Reserve Public Media

Influential Women of the Decades

Students choose a “woman of influence” and research her life. They then prepare a printed one-minute biography and share it with the rest of the class.

Social Studies
Grade 10

History, Benchmark F
The United States in the 20th Century
14. Analyze the origins, major developments, controversies and consequences of the civil rights movement with emphasis on:

b. the linkages between the civil rights movement and movements to gain justice for other minority groups.

Language Arts
Grade 10

Writing Applications
4. Write informational essays or reports, including research, that:

b. provide a clear and accurate perspective on the subject.

Research, Benchmark E
7. Use a variety of communication techniques, including oral, visual, written or multimedia reports, to present information that supports a clear position about the topic.



  1. Distribute the “Heroic Women of the Decades” activity sheet to the students.

  2. Eighteen women are listed on this sheet. Assign each student or pair of students a name from the activity sheet. Have students spend 10-15 minutes finding out something about the person.

  3. After 10-15 minutes, go to the first question on the activity sheet. Have the students who researched those women tell a little bit about them. From the descriptions given, have the class decide who they think made the statement. (You might also pass the sheet out the day before and ask the students to take it home and ask their parents to offer their opinion as to who made the statements.) These are the correct answers:

        1. A, Geraldine Ferraro
        2. C, Dolores Huerla
        3. B, Betty Friedan
        4. C, Rachel Carson
        5. A, Dorothea Lange
        6. C, Claudia Kennedy

  4. Brainstorm a list of heroic, influential women who have made a positive impact on the nation and who are familiar to the students.

  5. Students will choose an influential woman of the decades for research and will create a presentation to share with the class. Students may choose their own method for the presentation — PowerPoint presentations, posters, written reports, monologues or any other acceptable choice.

  6. The influential woman who they choose need not come from the student activity sheet. The woman should, however, be someone who has had national impact.




Presentation Rubric

CATEGORY Excellent Good Satisfactory Needs
Content The student shows a full understanding of the topic. The student shows a good understanding of the topic. The student shows a good understanding of parts of the topic. The student does not seem to understand the topic very well.
Preparedness The student is completely prepared and has obviously rehearsed. The student seems prepared but might have needed a few more rehearsals. The student is somewhat prepared, but it is clear that rehearsal is lacking. The student does not seem at all prepared for the presentation.
Stays on Topic The student stays on topic all of the time. The student stays on topic 90 percent to 99 percent of the time. The student stays on topic 75 percent to 89 percent of the time. It is hard to tell what the topic was.
Enthusiasm Facial expressions and body language generate a strong interest and enthusiasm in others about the topic. Facial expressions and body language sometimes generate a strong interest and enthusiasm in others about the topic. Facial expressions and body language are used to try to generate enthusiasm, but seem somewhat faked. There is very little use of facial expressions or body language. The student does not generate much interest in the topic being presented.
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