7th Grade New York

Women’s Rights

This inquiry examines the emergence of the women’s suffrage movement in the 19th century as an effort to expand women’s political and economic rights, and it extends that investigation into the present. The compelling question “What does it mean to be equal?” provides students with an opportunity to examine the nature of equality and the changing conditions for women in American society from the 19th century to today. Each supporting question begins by asking about 19th-century women’s rights and then asks about contemporary gender equality. The relationship between women’s rights and gender equality is a central focus of this inquiry. Students begin the inquiry by exploring the legal limits placed on women in the 19th century and how efforts to gain rights were undertaken by women at the Seneca Falls Convention.


Compelling Question:

What Does It Mean to Be Equal?

Staging the Question:

Examine the extent to which women are involved in governmental leadership today.

Supporting Question What legal limitations did women face in the 19th century and what gender-inequality issues do women face today?

Formative Task Part 1: List some legal limitations that women faced in the 19th century that were not faced by men at the same time.
Part 2: Select a topic related to present-day gender equality and conduct initial research on that topic with teacher support.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from Blackstone’s Law
Sources B: Excerpt from Democracy in America


Supporting Question What rights did women seek in the 19th century and what gender-equality issues are women fighting for today?

Formative Task Part 1: Write a paragraph representing the views of a woman in the 1830s on civil and social rights.
Part 2: Research gender-equality issues and seek additional information from community leaders about their efforts to address the rights of women.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from letter from Sarah M. Grimké to Mary S. Parker
Source B: Excerpt from Loom and Spindle or Life Among the Early Mill Girls


Supporting Question What actions did women take to obtain rights at the Seneca Falls Convention and how might we address gender equality today?

Formative Task Part 1: Make a claim supported by evidence from the Declaration of Sentiments for how the Seneca Falls Convention raised consciousness about the needs of women in the 1840s.
Part 2: Conduct a forum inside or outside of school addressing gender equality in society today.

Sources Source A: Announcement of Seneca Falls Convention
Source B: Address by Elizabeth Cady Stanton on women's rights
Source C: “Declaration of Sentiments”

Summative Performance Task

Argument: What does it mean to be equal? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that discusses the issues women faced in the 19th century and those they continue to face today using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Rewrite the lyrics to a popular present-day song from the perspective of a 19th-century women’s rights activist.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Accomplished through Formative Task #1
Assess: Accomplished through Formative Task #2
Act: Accomplished through Formative Task #3