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Discovering New York Suffrage Stories

Women Working for Change

Grades 6-8

4 - 5 Class Periods

Program Segments

  • “Discovering New York Suffrage Stories”(entire program - approximately 27 minutes)
Discovering New York Suffrage StoriesDiscovering New York Suffrage Stories

Meet diverse New York women who battled oppression and racism in their fight for the vote.


Students will be able to:

  • Complete a graphic organizer based on concepts and terms in the documentary.
  • Articulate new vocabulary in their own meaningful way.
  • Identify and explain the key people, places, and events that took place in New York State during the Women's Suffrage Movement.
  • Connect the Women's Suffrage Movement to present day issues and movements.

Instructional Resources



  1. The teacher will start the lesson by asking students, "What would motivate you to make changes in the world around you? Locally? Regionally? Nationwide? What does it take to ignite change? How could you gain support to make the changes?"
  2. The teacher will distribute the Vocabulary for Change Worksheet and explain that they will completing the sheets as a class.
  3. For each word, the teacher will:
    • First, ask if any student knows what the word means.
    • Next, look it up (so students can see on the Whiteboard).
    • Students should fill in the definition, synonym, and antonym on their worksheets.
    • Then, students will be asked to think about a real world connection. Students should think about things that have happened in their schools, neighborhoods, across the country or world.
    • The teacher can also use the internet and whiteboard to look up and show real world connections for each word.
  4. The teacher will explain to the students will be watching the documentary “Discovering New York Suffrage Stories”in class and that it features women from the Suffrage Movement and the different things they did throughout their lives to enact change.
  5. Students should be paying close attention to the documentary to see if they mention any of the vocabulary words from the Vocabulary for Change Worksheet and be thinking of specific examples of what the women did to help with their cause.
  6. The teacher will then play just the introduction “Discovering New York Suffrage Stories” in this class period and explain that the rest will be shown next class period.


  1. Students will be reminded about the documentary they began watching and asked to take out their Vocabulary for Change Worksheets.
  2. The teacher will then play the remainder of “Discovering New York Suffrage Stories”and remind students to look for ways the women tried to help their cause.
  3. When the documentary is over, ask students to share some of the ways they saw the women featured trying to enact change. Examples may be general or specific, such as being an advocate, fighting opposition or starting women's clubs, and creating a women's newspaper (The Una).
  4. The teacher will then ask the students if they have ever tried to enact change and what were some of the things that they did to help their causes.
  5. The teacher will split the students into groups of 3 - 4 students each. Then the teacher will distribute the Enacting Change Project Worksheet.
  6. The teacher will explain that students are to pick a current issue in society they would like to address or a movement (for example - Black Lives Matter) they would like to join.
  7. The student projects can be in the form of a video, a mural (can have each student draw on one large piece of paper and tape together to make the mural), a short play or skit, a song or rap, or a 1-2 page persuasive essay or newspaper article.
  8. The students will have a discussion with their group to decide which current issue in society they would like to address or a movement (for example - Black Lives Matter) they would like to join.
  9. The students should complete their Enacting Change Project Worksheet and begin work on their projects.


  1. The next 1 - 3 class periods can be given to students to work on their group projects and then present them to the class.

Assessment Tasks

  • Students will participate in all class discussions.
  • Students will turn in a completed Vocabulary for Change Worksheet.
  • Students will work in groups and turn in a completed Enacting Change Project Worksheet.
  • Students will present their projects to the class.

Adaptations for Grades 9-12

  • Instead of working in groups for their projects, high school students can each do an individual project.
  • Write an essay drawing comparisons between the Women's Suffrage Movement and a current social issue or movement of today. The essay should include techniques used by the activists or each movement and whether they were successful or not (newspapers, clubs, protests, etc.)

New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies

Unifying Themes: Individual Development and Cultural Identity; Time, Continuity, and Change; Development and Transformation of Social Structures; Power, Authority, and Governance; Civic Ideals and Practices

  • Standard 1—History of the United States and New York
  • Standard 5 — Civics, Citizenship, and Government
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Major support for Discovering New York Suffrage Stories was provided by The National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor, by the Susan Howarth Foundation, and KeyBank in partnership with First Niagara Foundation. With additional funding from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation and Humanities New York.