- Peer Review: Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
- Jan 5, 2009 by History
Overall Rating: 4.0 stars
Content Quality: 4.2 stars
Effectiveness: 4.0 stars
Ease of Use: 4.2 stars
- The site focuses on the lives of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in particular and more generally on the fight for women's suffrage. According to the site's homepage, students can "Track key events in the suffrage movement, delve into historic documents and essays, and take a look at where women are today." The site primarily serves as reference material and includes images, graphics, audio, a text dual biography of Stanton and Anthony, 4 lesson plans, 8 primary sources, 6 essays by historians, a chronology, and suggested related books and web links. The site is a companion to the PBS video of the same name, and the lesson plans assume that the teacher is also using the video in class. There is one segment of the site for Kids, which seems to aim at age eight to twelve. The lesson plans seem more appropriate for middle school or above. The multimedia presentation in Explore the Womens Movement is also best for middle school or above. The site's material is relevant to American history, women's studies, or political science classes. Teachers could use the site in class to enhance a lesson on women's suffrage and/or could use it as the basis of homework assignments ranging in complexity from research papers, to document analysis, to quizzes.
- Type of Material:
- Reference Material.
- Recommended Uses:
- Teachers could use the site in class to enhance a lesson on women's suffrage and/or could make it the basis of homework assignments ranging in complexity from research papers, to document analysis, to quizzes. Examples follow. In class, a teacher could play one or two segments from the Explore the Womens Movement section of the site. He or she could then intiate a class discussion (or small group discussions) of how the information presented by the site confirms, enhances, or contradicts material in a previously assigned reading. Alternatively, the teacher could have students write in-class on the same topic. Teachers at all levels (sixth grade through college) could require students to read the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments (1848), which is one of the primary sources on the site, and to perform a document analysis of it. The Document Analysis Worksheet available from NARA would be useful for such an assignment. Teachers at a more advanced level could assign the site as a starting point for a five- or ten-page research paper on the history of the women's suffrage movement or on the lives of Stanton and/or Anthony. Teachers at all levels could design appropriate quiz questions to test student understanding of material assigned within the site. There are four useful lesson plans included on the site, involving a range of activities. Each assumes, however, that the teacher is using the companion video in class.
- Technical Requirements:
- Internet access (files are generally small enough that they could be downloaded even over a phone modem) Audio capability required to fully access one part of the site
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
- The main purpose of the site is to introduce students to the history of the womens suffrage movement through the lives of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. According to the site's homepage, students can "Track key events in the suffrage movement, delve into historic documents and essays, and take a look at where women are today." The learning goals of the lesson plans mostly focus on understanding the struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties and on understanding historical perspective. However, two of the lesson plans also incorporate higher order learning goals, such as these: comparing and contrasting differing sets of ideas, values, personalities, behaviors, and institutions; analyzing cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causation; evaluating alternative courses of action; and evaluating the implementation of a decision.
- Target Student Population:
- There is one segment of the site for Kids, which seems to aim at age eight to twelve. The lesson plans seem more appropriate for middle school or above. The multimedia presentation in Explore the Womens Movement is also best for middle school or above. The material is relevant to American history, women's studies, and political science classes.
- Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
- Students will need basic computer skills to surf the site. In terms of previous content knowledge, students need only a basic awareness that women have not always held the same legal rights as men in the U.S. Any student who already has an appreciation of historical perspective (change over time) will gain more from surfing the site than those who do not. To do the lesson plans, students who already understand analysis of historical documents will have an easier time, although that skill is not an essential prerequisite.
- The quality of the information presented is very high. The makers of the related film and the website consulted leading scholars in the field. The Resources area contains some additional essays and articles. The lesson plans are carefully constructed. Primary sources are available in the Resources area of the site and are part of some of the suggested lesson plans. The site points out that not all nations around the world now treat women equally and has some activities to encourage exploration of that topic. The emotions of Stanton and Anthony come through clearly in Explore the Womens Movement.
- There are only four lesson plans for using the video and other resources. I could wish for at least a dozen. The chronology under the Culture and Politics tab within the Explore the Womens Movement segment seems idiosyncratic. It is not clear to me why some events were included, such as the creation of the first BB gun in 1886, and others were excluded, such as the admission of four states in 1889. Coherence can be a problem within the segment of the site called Explore the Womens Movement. While each of the 20 sections of that segment covers a specific time period, it is difficult for users to grasp everything presented at once. For example, in part 13, the audio says that suffragists began a series of actions designed to bring them before the courts so that they could argue that the Fourteenth Amendment's definition of citizenship protected women's right to vote. The audio does not give any indication of whether this was a successful strategy. A changing graphic, which flashes up while the audio is running, shows some of the actions that the women took, while the outcome is noted in a static box of text to the right of the screen. Putting the information together from these three different sources on a single page is unnecessarily difficult. There are many quotes from primary sources in the Explore the Womens Movement segment of the site that do not always have a clear citation. For example, quotes from letters are not always identified by date or intended recipient.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
- The site itself offers an excellent opportunity to introduce students to the roles of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and their long commitment with their hopes and aspirations and disappointments to the cause of women's rights. The Resources section offers a wider variety of content options to expand the use of the site's content. These include articles and essays, historical documents, biographies, and links to other resources and related organizations. Teachers could design other effective assignments using the website.
- Simply sending a student to look at the site would not be an effective use of student time. Most students would be confused by the organization and would be uncertain what they should remember after exploring the site. Thus, teachers need to be explicit in their instructions to students. As far as I can tell, there is no online support for teachers or students who run into problems while attempting to use the site. Some sections of the site that were once interactive, such as a Dialogs section in the area Where Are We Now, are no longer available for new entries.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
- Download on a T1 line was instantaneous. Most files seem small and should load easily enough even over a phone modem. I discovered no broken links. Except for "Explore the Women's Movement," the site is well organized and easy to navigate.
- The site has a navigation toolbar at the top for PBS in general, while the sites navigation toolbar is at the bottom. However, the segment of the site that may be most important, Explore the Womens Movement, is not on the toolbar at all. Instead, it opens into a separate window from the left side of the homepage. Inside the Explore the Womens Movement, each of the twenty parts is on a continual loop. The same pictures and voice information replay again and again rather than stopping to let the individual know to move to the next part. The lesson plans rely on the video that PBS produced.