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From Suffering to Suffrage in Iowa

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 11th Grade, 12th Grade Class American Government Length of Lesson 50 minutes
Lesson Title From Suffering to Suffrage in Iowa
Unit Title Voting: A Right or Responsibility?
Unit Compelling Question Is voting important?
Historical Context:

Women had to advocate and fight for full citizenship, including the right to vote, for many decades.  The women's suffrage movement began in America in July 1848 when a protest meeting was held in Seneca Falls, New York, chaired by Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  In 1849, the first state constitution in California extended property rights to women.  In 1869, Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote.  The 19th Amendment was finally passed in 1919 and ratified in August 1920 by the minimum of 36 states needed for ratification. Iowa was the 10th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, on July 2, 1919.  The last state to ratify the 19th Amendment was Mississippi in 1984.   The 19th Amendment says that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridge by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

Lesson Supporting Question In what ways did women advocate for the right to vote in Iowa?
Lesson Overview

Students will analyze the lyrics to the 1897 song “Give Us the Ballot” advocating for women’s suffrage. Additionally, students will choose a poem from the 1915 “Are Women People?” excerpts to analyze. Students will gain a deeper understanding of why women wanted the right to vote and how they  provided an informal course of action to obtaining that right.

Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed
Lesson Target
  • Students will interpret the meaning of the lyrics and the meaning of the poems by summarizing the verses with a partner.
  • Students will examine the effectiveness of using methods such as music and prose for political advocation.
  • Students will create an argument in favor of giving women the right to vote in the form of an additional verse or poem.
Lesson Themes Civil Rights, Political System, Women's Experience
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
Optional If possible, communicate with a music educator in the building or district about this lesson. Make arrangements for this person to come in and perform the piece, either themselves or with a group of students, or produce a recording to allow students to hear the song.   Music Personnel

Students will work with a partner to read through the lyrics and summarize each verse in their own words, completing question 1 on the front of the  worksheet. These verse summaries can then be shared with the class as a whole so that students might be able to learn from the understanding of their classmates.

Students will individually complete remaining questions on the front of the accompanying worksheet.


Sheet Music

Analysis Worksheet


The teacher will discuss with students the meaning of “satire” and its usefulness in reasoning and argument.

Students will work with a partner to read through each of the poems. They will choose one to summarize and explain in their own words in paragraph form, completing question 1 on the back of the worksheet. These summaries can be shared in the large group setting.

Students will individually complete the remaining questions on the back of the accompanying worksheet.


Poem Excerpts

Analysis Worksheet


Students can choose one of the following activities to demonstrate their learning:

  1. Create a fifth verse for the song arguing why the vote should be granted to women.
  2. Create a satirical eight line rhyme or poem responding to one of the quotes from the book excerpts arguing for the right to vote for women.
Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • Opportunities for sharing the verse and poem summaries the students develop will inform the teacher if students are grasping the underlying views present in the sources.
  • The worksheet will provide information for the level of understanding of each individual student.
  • The create tasks will allow the teacher to see if students are capable of demonstrating their understanding.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
  • At the end of the unit, students will write an argumentative paper answering the unit question “Is voting important?” One of the subtopics they will have to address is the historical importance of voting including elaborating on the views of those without the right to vote (i.e. Women, African Americans, etc.). This lesson gives students a perspective of women prior to the 19th amendment, offering the view that voting was a right being denied on a large scale, and the denial was based on unsound reasoning.
Author Information
Author Chad Timm Reviewer Dr. Chad Timm, Simpson College Created 07/13/2018 Last Edited 07/15/2020
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Simpson College

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