Lesson Plans | Women on $20 bills
The students are still working on figuring out if I really don’t speak French and have been hard at work trying to get me to trip up. One persistent student’s attempt:
“So what do you watch on TV?”
“What about when you go to the grocery store?”
“Do you know what French kiss is? It’s very famous!”
I had a student try ambushing me with a “Bonjour” as I walked out of the gate and when I responded with “Hello,” he said, “Gah!” Also, when they tried saying Madam and I replied “Yeah?” they apparently heard that as me saying “Ouai?” and started talking excitedly about how I responded to French, as if they’d found me out.
When I told some students, I was leaving soon they asked me to take a selfie and if they could find me on Facebook (not sure about that…).
Unfortunately, amidst all the adorableness, I also had a student get sick for the first time in my classroom. Luckily the students also jumped into action to help out and get the teacher, etc.
I also had an interesting conversation while waiting for the bus. I was talking to a student who’d misbehaved in class about the weather and a man came up to me and said what I think was something about how people don’t see anyone like me around there much. He then went on to say that not all Muslims are terrorists and showed me his shirt, which said “The only good Taliban is a dead Taliban” with a portrait of a man in a turban on it.
This past week, I mixed things up a bit and did a different lesson every hour in my first set of classes, including ones with tongue twisters (thanks Katherine!) and a fantasy trip. The lesson I went with the most was one based on the recent campaign to get a woman on the $20 bill.
Materials: $1 bill and coins, copies of $1 bill with a blank space in the portrait
Introduction: I brought a dollar bill and American currency into class. I showed them a $1 and asked them who was on it. Some of them knew who George Washington was. I’d then draw a bill on the board and indicate that the portrait was of a man on the $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills, and then explain that now, people were “voting” to “change” the $20 bill to a woman. Depending on time, I’d pass around a copy of the letter from Sofia, a fourth grader who wrote to Barack Obama about women she thought should be on the $20 bill, and we’d go over the first few sentences together.
Activity: I’d pass out copies of the blank $1 bill and tell them to draw a woman (there were a few students who didn’t realize this at first and when I said it had to be a woman, they were like “Une fille?!”). If they seemed stumped, I’d suggest someone in politics, science, etc. I’d show an example bill that I made with Rachel Carson, then explain that she was a scientist and a writer and tried to stop the use of pesticides. I’d explain that she was on the bill because she was intelligent.
After a few minutes, I’d ask them to come up one by one and answer the following in complete sentences:
- What is her name?
- Who is she? (a politician, a scientist, etc.)
- Why is she on the bill? (intelligent, strong, etc.)
- Any other follow-ups that were relevant (for instance, I had one student draw Hillary Clinton, so we were able to briefly talk about how she was running for president)
There were tons of students who picked Marie Le Pen, but thanks to the Shakira poster on the wall of one classroom, I got quite a few Shakiras as well (“Why is she on the bill?” “She has big feet.”).
I had wanted to come up with a feminist lesson plan, but this also turned out to be a great way to review occupations (especially “singer”) and focus on characteristics of women besides beauty that would make them worthy of recognition.