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Historical Voices

Women of Courage

(Based on a speech by Amelia Earhart; and an interview with Rosa Parks)


Students should be able to:

  • Describe circumstances surrounding the events discussed
  • Describe progress made in the various fields since after the events took place
  • Compare and or contrast life before and after the events described
  • Identify main themes emerging from the excerpts and reflect on their manifestation in every day life

Grades: 6-8, 9-12

Subjects: Language Arts, History, Science, & Social Studies.

Curriculum standards: Curriculum standards at the state and district level in several states require students to acquire different levels of competency in a variety of skills such as:

  • Chronology of major events in the history of the United States.
  • Understanding narratives about major eras of American and world history by identifying the people involved, describing the setting, and sequencing the events. ( major world wars, the Great Depression, establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency [NASA], broadcasts of the first landing on the moon and other space launches, important presidential speeches, and other major world events)
  • Reconstructing the past by comparing interpretations written by others from a variety of perspectives
  • Creating narratives from evidence
  • Evaluating key decisions made at critical turning points in history by assessing their implications and long-term consequences.

These standards involve students in critical thinking and analyzing events. The speeches used here provide credible sources from which to do comparison and contrasting activities with materials presented in other formats such as print. By being asked to reconstruct the past with a critical attitude,

  • Students are able to develop their own cognitive strategies
  • Encourages a spirit of inquisitiveness and scientific research strategies that can be augmented by other non-listening activities such as reading, writing
  • Promotes factual and higher-order thinking, deep knowledge, substantive knowledge, and connections beyond the classroom

Materials are usable and applicable in a number of subject contexts such as social studies (history, civics, geography, democracy), science, and language arts standards make it possible for students to learn academic content

Additional academic content standards may be obtained through the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning in Aurora, Colorado, (, a site that provides K-12 academic standards; and Achieve (, a site that addresses the academic standards of over 40 states. The state standards are from Achieve's National Standards Clearinghouse ( and have been provided courtesy of Achieve, Inc. in Cambridge Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

Activity 1

  1. Tell students that the unit will cover two or more lessons and they will be engaged in finding out more information and doing library research on the persons of Rosa Parks, and Amelia Earhart; as well as themes that emerge from their ‘stories’.
  2. Explain to them that the principal idea in the lesson is to expose them to the lives of these two prominent American women that had a great impact in the history of this nation, in the early to mid 21st century.

Activity 2

  1. Guide the students in supplying definitions and synonyms for the word courage. (To understand the term better, you may choose to incorporate antonyms).
  2. Ask them to briefly describe situations they think best fit the description of courage. Encourage them to draw from their own experiences or experiences of those close to them.

Activity 3

  1. Inform the students that the excerpts they will listen to are authentic; the actual voices of the speakers. They should pay attention to details such as names of places, descriptions of events, dates etc. and be ready to share with their colleagues (in groups) what they shall have learnt.
  2. Listen to an interview of Rosa Parks (9 minutes 16 seconds) and a speech made by Amelia Earhardt in 1936 (5 minutes 23 sec).

Activity 4

  1. In groups of three or four, instruct students to discuss the information presented in the two voice excerpts. To guide them, present them with questions such as:
    • Where (geographically) do the events take place?
    • Why may the two be considered “women of courage”?
    • What are some beliefs and values that they have?
    • What may life have been like for Rosa Parks before December, 4th 1955?
    • What is the sequence of events as described by Rosa? ( Incorporate the time it takes for each to occur).
    • What was life like for women as described by Amelia?
    • What are some themes that emerge from the two stories?
    • How much have things changed (or remained the same) since the time Amelia Earhart got into the aviation industry; and Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat? etc.
  2. Have a whole class discussion on the information they could have gathered in their groups.
  3. Ask them to write a brief account when they feel they have demonstrated the virtue of courage

Activity 5

  1. Tell the students that they would be required to do some library/internet research on any of the following:
    • Amelia Earhart
    • Rosa Parks
    • The civil rights movement
    • The history of aviation
    • Place of women in science and technology
    • Justice
    (You may choose to have the work done in groups or individually).
  2. Ask students to identify an issue of social significance that they may protest against and write a letter to their congressman (woman)/senator expressing their views.
  3. In groups, have the students generate lists to compare and contrast life as
    • Amelia Earhart may have experienced it and how she would experience it now
    • Rosa Parks may have lived it before and after December, 4th 1955.

Other Suggested Activities.

  1. Have the students explore the geographical regions mentioned in the ‘stories’ i.e. cities (Montgomery, Santa Ana, Detroit) and states (Alabama etc.).
  2. Reflecting on the two speakers, discuss the statement “ We bear the consequences of the choices we make”. Guide the students in reflecting on some choices they have had to make (or will be required to make) in their lives.
  3. Explore some vocabulary words and phrases used;
    • Non-violence
    • Boycott
    • Prejudice
    • Miracles of modern communication and transportation
    • White/colored section
    • Old gadgetry
    • Technological unemployment