"Women in the Workforce During World War II"


A & B We learned a number of things throughout the whole process of lesson study that will inform our teaching practices. In terms of our teacher question, we noticed in our lesson study observation that the students were successful in achieving the goals set out in the teacher question. They were able to use the documents to understand the complexity of women’s work and could articulate this diversity. In their writing, students said things like, “Rosie the Riveter did not exemplify the diversity of the color of these female workers…African American mothers were welders, Mexican wives were nurses, and Asian sisters were on the assembly line building B-29 and B-24 bombers.” (Student work #1)

As we observed and debriefed the lesson, other questions arose. We noticed that many students looked at Rosie poster and described her as “determined.” We realized that the words, “You can do it!” dictated their reaction to the poster. Based on student writing, we found that the overwhelming reaction to the poster was that it showed that “women could do anything they wanted.” However, many students initially ignored the details of the poster such as the women’s race, makeup, clothes, etc. This helped us understand that students need scaffolding in analyzing images. Helping students ask questions like, “Where did this image come from? Who put it out? Why did they put it out?” would help inform their reaction to the image. Also, teaching them how to look at the details of an image is an important step in this type of document analysis. We also learned that there are natural extension questions that should be addressed in this lesson. For example, moving from a simple observation of the disparity between Rosie and the other images to a discussion about Rosie as an empowering or disempowering image could be a good step. Student work showed us that students recognized that older women, non-white women, and non-factory women were in the workforce. However, asking students, “If you were a woman during this time period, how would you feel about this image?” introduces the potential for deeper discussion and analysis.

C. This lesson impacted our curriculum and instruction in several ways.  The lesson study team learned from each other, gathered strength and  determination from our collective effort, and improved our instruction after seeing it taught by other teachers to other students at other schools. This team approach brings more than one brain into the planning and execution which benefits students. It also encourages us to share the process with teachers at our home school. Our confidence in the material and experience in planning and execution also encourages deeper study as part of our daily practice.

Next year, we will look for more visual examples for students to analyze, discuss, and write about. Images could include editorial cartoons, art, photos, and other graphics. We will also look for video clips that reveal, discuss, debate, or dramatize the content of the lesson. The reason for this is to compensate for the poor reading skills and lack of historical background of many of our students.

Stress on visual and auditory stimulation will strengthen reading skills by making the context meaningful and allowing students to feel as though they have directly experienced the past. It improves student writing skills by having them write an essay from analysis of evidence, discussion, and application of the content. It strengthens the stated historical thinking skills through analysis, discussion, and thesis based essay writing based on documents. This process is part of our district history assessment.