Lesson One: Introduction to Gender Roles
Background: This lesson is designed as an introduction to the unit. Students will not have had any specific reading homework assigned in advance of these activities.
Do Now: Cognitive Dissonance
The teacher will write the words cognitive dissonance on the board and initiate a discussion with the class. If any students are familiar with the term, they may share their experiences with it. Through this conversation, the class will establish a definition of the term and the teacher will tell them to keep this concept in mind as we discuss the key topics of the new unit.
Activity 1: When I Was a Kid…
Students will be provided a prompt on the board: When I was a kid, I learned that a good boy/girl was supposed to…
In their journals, students will copy the prompt and complete one version of the sentence (for boy or girl) in as many ways as they can. After brainstorming and writing for a few minutes, the teacher will ask for ideas from the class, which will be written on the board or on chart paper. As students share their ideas, it should eventually become clear that some of the criteria are impossible (or at least inconsistent), which the teacher may point out if the students do not recognize it independently. The resulting list of expectations should be explained as examples of gender norms, and these lists may be kept up in the room throughout the rest of the unit. It will also be helpful for the students to consider whether or not these norms are similar across different cultures.
To close out the discussion, the teacher will explain that individuals’ and cultures’ varying interpretations of gender expectations means that gender is a social construction. Students will write down this term and its definition in their notes.
Activity 2: Memories of Gender Realization
The teacher will write the following two quotes on the board:
“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” - Gloria Steinem
“If we don’t place the straightjacket of gender roles on young children, we give them space to reach their full potential.” - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Students will first be asked to choose one quote and explain and respond to it in a short freewrite. Volunteers will then share out their responses and interpretations to the class. Once students have shared their ideas, the teacher will ask everyone to think of the first time in their lives that they became aware of gender division between boys and girls. It will be helpful for the teacher to share a personal experience to illustrate this “gender lightbulb moment.” When students have had a few minutes to write, the teacher will ask for volunteers to share their memories. The class will then discuss the extent to which individuals’ stories are consistent with the list of gender norms that we have established.
Activity 3: Storytime
The teacher will read Robert Munsch’s children’s book The Paper Bag Princess to the class in a simulation of elementary school storytime. As the students listen, they will write down ideas on a graphic organizer: in what ways do the events of the story reflect typical gender expectations for boys and girls? In what ways does the story subvert gender norms? Students will share responses at the end of the story. Finally, the teacher will ask for a full written response to the story: What impressions of gender might a young child get from reading the story? Does the story ultimately reinforce gender roles, or does it challenge them?
Lesson Two: Redlining and A Raisin in the Sun
Background: Prior to this lesson, the class will have read up to the end of Act 2, Scene 3 in A Raisin in the Sun, so they should be familiar with the Younger family’s dilemma regarding moving to Clybourne Park. For homework, students should have listened to the redlining podcast from In the Thick and prepare notes for class discussion. Guiding questions for students to consider while listening to the podcast are listed below. Although this lesson does not specifically address gender roles, the issue of residential segregation in the play is necessary to discuss, and can be connected to gender norms in conversations about intersectionality.
- In your own words, what does redlining refer to?
- In your own words, what does gentrification mean?
- What is the connection between these two concepts?
- What does the example of the Philadelphia area of Point Breeze illustrate about gentrification and redlining? (Around 21:20 in the podcast)
- What does Richard Rothstein mean when he says, “We can’t have it both ways”? (Beginning around the 22-minute mark)
- Respond to Rothstein’s point (around 24:35 - 26:00) about creating integrated communities.
- Explain the points made in the podcast about the Trump administration (beginning around 28:55).
Do Now: Review Podcast
Students will share out their responses to the first three guiding questions as a full class. The remaining questions will be distributed among small groups of students to discuss and then share out to the class.
Activity 1: Adam Ruins Everything, “The Disturbing History of the Suburbs”
Students will complete a KWL chart to clarify their understanding of redlining and identify any lingering questions they might have at this point. The class will then watch the short video explaining the practice of redlining. Students will share their questions in small groups, address and take notes on anything that may have been confusing, and report out to the class.
Activity 2: Redlining in Our Lives
Students will individually freewrite and brainstorm to consider the impact of residential segregation in their neighborhoods, or in other communities in which they have lived or visited. Students should consider the racial composition of these communities and how they reflect historical practices of neighborhood segregation. The teacher will then distribute copies of “residential safety maps” from DataHaven for students to examine and discuss in small groups. Students should consider the extent to which these maps from 1937 reflect current neighborhood demographics and share out to the class.
Activity 3: Connect to the Text
Students will spend the remainder of class composing a response in which they discuss how discriminatory housing policies affect the characters and events of A Raisin in the Sun. Students may choose between an explanatory format and a narrative one. Students may exercise some creativity if they choose a narrative response, but one suggestion might be a letter from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association to the Younger family explaining why the organization opposes the family moving into the community.