BWHT Women’s History Fall Projects
More than 600 Boston Public Schools 5th graders learn about “Boston Women Beyond March”
The Boston Women’s Heritage Trail (BWHT), as part of its 20th Anniversary Celebration, conducted a 3-day Summer Institute for BPS 5th grade teachers. BWHT board members guided the teachers on a journey to Boston historic sites where they learned about amazing women, including Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, Harriet Tubman, Phillis Wheatley, and many more whose contributions helped shape Boston and our nation. Sites included African Meeting House, Boston Women’s Memorial, Harriet Tubman Square, Faneuil Hall, and the Old South Meeting House (our hosts) to celebrate Women Beyond March, not just during Women’s History Month.
Each teacher received a wealth of resources including the BWHT Guidebook and BWHT Biographies of 21 Notable Women. Then the teachers brought their summer learning to their students in a BWHT-sponsored Women’s History Fall Project.
We invite you to share the highlights of our BWHT 5th Grade Fall Projects below:
Historical Women of the South End/ Blackstone Community
Blackstone School – Christine Arnold and Carmen Guerrios, teachers
Students used BWHT materials to explore their school neighborhood through learning walks, creating biographies, timelines, puppets, and a mural.
BWHT women included: Louisa May Alcott, Mary Baker Eddy, Myrna Vazquez, Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Crocker, E. Virginia Williams
“I learned that a principal used to be called a supervisor and Lucretia Crocker was made a principal when they were all men. She must have been real smart.”
Efrain said of Boston Ballet Founder E. Virginia Williams, “That’s my girl.”
Women Then and Now: How Far We Have Come
Conley Elemenary School– Heidi Guillerault, teacher
Students paired women with achievements in common and exchanged letters between pairs that were enlightening. They also created timelines and visual presentations. Ms Guillerault’s class plans to participate in a Pen Pal Project with Ms Tarentino’s class at the Murphy.
BWHT women included (women not focused on Boston connection bolded): Melnea Cass/Kip Tiernan, Abigail Adams/Michelle Obama, Lucy Stone/Hillary Rodham Clinton, Phillis Wheatley/Maya Angelou, Jennie Loitman Barron/Sonia Sotomayor.
“We are doing these projects because we learn all about men, but we need to know about women.”
Grew Elementary School — Natalie Phillips, teacher
Students created bulletin boards for the hallways, six sided boxes with facts about each women, mini-sculptures, and presented their Artsy Ladies Learning Festival for visiting classrooms and guests. Background music was provided by Amy Beach
BWHT women included: Theo Kitson, Nancy Schon, Edmonia Lewis, Mary Cassatt, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Katherine Weems, Amy Beach
The Special Education class was so taken with our sculptures and the Ladies, that they’ve done their own showing… They invited my class — we had a blast!”
History: Where It All Adds Up
Harvard/Kent Elementary School — Debra Price, teacher
Students used their BWHT resources to complete activities about Number Sense & Operations and Geometry strands of Math. They created timelines, a quilt, and a trivia card game, incorporating math skills throughout.
BWHT women included: Twenty-One Notable Women and the Boston Women’s Memorial
“Why is that lady dressed like Abraham Lincoln?” – referring to Ellen Craft
Boston Women’s History Club
Hennigan Elementary School — Ana Patricia Montoya, teacher
Students formed chapters of The Boston Women’s History Club, researched the women, completed written projects, timelines and posters, and selected a spokesperson from each respective chapter to give an oral presentation.
BWHT women included: Abigail Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Helen Keller, Maria Mitchell, Lucy Stone, Phillis Wheatley
Valeria Alvarez, the spokesperson from the Abigail Adams Chapter, said: “I connect to Abigail Adams because if I were in her place I would do the same things that she did and I would fight for women’s rights.
Women Who Paved The Way
John F. Kennedy Elementary School — Kerri Anderson, teacher
Students researched five Boston women, created posters, gave presentations, and wrote letters back and forth between the women.
BWHT women included: Abigail Adams, Ellen Craft, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Lucy Stone, Phillis Wheatley
“Melnea Cass fought for black doctors and nurses to get jobs at hospitals, so when I had an asthma attack last year she helped me too.”
“Phillis Wheatley is my hero. She inspired me to write a poem for her. Poetry helps me express myself, too.”
Influential Women of History
Kilmer K–8 School — Elaine McCabe, teacher
Students wrote persuasive postcards from the perspective of each woman and wrote 10 important facts about the women on sticks that were placed in decorated cups.
BWHT women included: Jennie Barron, Melnea Cass, Ellen Craft. Muriel Snowden
About Melnea Cass: “This woman lived in my community, Roxbury, and it excited me that I have a connection with someone who did great things for the community.”
Notable Women Too!
Mary Lyon School — Dolores Martinez, teacher
Students visited and researched the Boston Public Library mural and created biographies, timelines and bio-blocks, noting how the nine women made a difference in their lives. Realizing similarities in six of their much respected school leaders, they interviewed them, created a brochure, produced digital bios of each, presented projects to the entire school and their notable women, and created their own lasting mural for the school, portrayiing: Mary Lyon, for whom the school is named; Dr. Nash, founder of the school; Mrs. Rooney, principal; and Mrs. Greene, Ms. Deb and Mrs. Hartman – all Teachers of the Year.
BWHT women included: Anne Hutchinson, Phillis Wheatley, Lucy Stone, Anne Sullivan and Melnea Cass, five of the Nine Notable Women in the Boston Public Library mural.
“Actually, all the women have made a difference to our lives. Without them, this school wouldn’t be successful — just like the Nine Notable Women of Boston.”
Women of Change
Manning Elementary School — Audrey Herzig, teacher
After researching the women, students created posters and made a board game with educational reading comprehension questions about the women.
BWHT women included: Abigail Adams, Amy Cheney Beach, Amelia Earhart and Isabella Stewart Gardner
“It’s really important that we learn about how things have been unfair in the past and how women have worked to change things, because one kid is going to be president someday, and that kid will think back to 5th grade, remember, and hopefully make good choices that will affect everyone.”
Fight For Freedom
Mildred Avenue School — Marian Peters, teacher
Students researched each woman’s role in ending slavery. They created life maps and learned important dates, events, and contributions. Working in threes they constructed tri-fold posters with pictures, facts and quotes. They then presented their work on the stage of the auditorium.
BWHT women included: Ellen Craft, Phillis Wheatley, Abigail Adams and Deborah Sampson
“I had a lot of fun learning about Ellen Craft.”
“I never even knew about Deborah Sampson or about Phillis Wheatley.”
Remember the Ladies
Murphy K–8 School — Lisa Tarentino, teacher
Students formed groups, learning about each of their women’s connection to Boston, educational experience, family life, what she is best known for, and other interesting information. Some groups also built clay models of their woman and made signs representing their lady. Some students dressed up as their historical character. Finally, each group shared with others using posters, props and video.
BWHT women included: Phillis Wheatley, Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone and Louisa May Alcott
Ms. Tarentino’s class plans to participate in a Pen Pal Project with Ms Guillerault’s class at the Conley.
Important Women in Important Times
Ohrenberger School — Karen Finnegan and Joan Dill, teachers
Students researched the women with an in-depth non-fiction study. They created portraits of the women and gave oral reports.
BWHT women included: Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman and Phillis Wheatley
“I liked Amelia Earhart because she was a tomboy and she had a great sense of adventure.”
Trotter Elementary School — Martha Waite, teacher
Students wrote poetry in honor of Philllis Wheatley, created a box of museum treasures in honor of Isabella Stewart Gardner, and invited Susan Dimock (portrayed by Mary Smoyer) to the classroom to tell her story.
BWHT women included: Susan Dimock, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Phillis Wheatley
Poems inspired by Phillis Wheatley:
My Dog, by Isaiah Adedeji
Doggy food is good for him
Owen is his name
Going is his game
Apples, by Shania Lynch
Fun, apple picking
Twist, pull, green apple
Hear Our Voice
Winthrop Elementary School — Carolyn Hardy, teacher
Students created bookmarks and designed a quilt square for each woman. As a culminating activity, the students presented each woman during a “Time for Kids News Broadcast”.
BWHT women included: Mary Eliza Mahoney, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Maria Stewart, Lucy Stone and Mercy Otis Warren
“Mrs. Hardy, you know the woman that I am studying? I saw her name up on a street sign in Roxbury”
“I got a Phillis Wheatley bookmark. She’s a great poet.”
We the People… Hear Our Voices
Young Achievers K–8 School — Carol Murray, teacher
Students studied mapping, used quill pens and parchment paper, and wrote tribute poems to important women.
BWHT women included: Abigail Adams
Ms. Murray said: “My favorite part was watching them use the parchment paper and ink quill pens and listening to them talk about how people had it so much harder then, from the issues of women not having a voice to the actual writing with ink quill pens.”
BWHT invites you to celebrate women’s history not only in March, but all year round.
For more information on the Fall Projects, contact:Barbara Locurto or Mary Howland Smoyer.