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        The Storm That Swept Mexico | Lesson Plan: Revolutionary Women

        “I think…without the women, there would be no Revolution.”

        — Elena Poniatowska

        Women constitute half of the world’s population yet their contributions to major social, cultural and political events are often overlooked, misunderstood, misrepresented, or undocumented. In this lesson, students will discover why women’s participation was crucial to the Mexican Revolution, and how women’s ability to contribute to society changed during the revolutionary period. Through the film The Storm That Swept Mexico and multimedia extensions, students will explore how gender shapes our understanding of history and continues to impact expectations and opportunities for individuals in the present.

         

        Lesson Summary

        About the Film

        The Storm That Swept Mexico tells the gripping story of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the first major political and social revolution of the 20th century. The Revolution not only changed the course of Mexican history, transforming economic and political power within the nation, but also profoundly impacted the relationships between Mexico, the U.S. and the rest of the world.

        Leading the initial wave of 20th century worldwide political and social upheavals, the Mexican Revolution was the first major revolution to be filmed. The Storm That Swept Mexico incorporates photographs and motion pictures from the earliest days of cinema. Much of this material has never been seen before by North American and international audiences.

        The first hour, “The Tiger is Unleashed,” charts the struggle by Francisco I. Madero and his followers to end the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, and traces the emergence of two remarkable rebel leaders: Emiliano Zapata and General Francisco “Pancho” Villa. But the Revolution was not merely an internal affair; it was an international event, profoundly influenced by U.S. and European foreign policy.

        The second hour, “The Legacy,” examines international influence on the Mexican Revolution, investigating the extraordinary plan, hatched in Germany, to seek Mexico’s support against the United States, if it was to enter World War I. In addition to the warfare, there was a cultural revolution as well. Beginning in the 1920s, and continuing through and beyond the 1940s, Mexican artists burst onto the international cultural stage, and Mexico City became the nexus of an indigenous art movement. Against this backdrop, the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas in many ways fulfills the promises of the revolution. But after Cárdenas’s extraordinary administration, politics regress, and in 1968, shortly before Mexico City is to host the Olympics, a new type of revolution explodes.

        Interviewing distinguished scholars from the disciplines of history, economics, literature, political science, women’s studies, and art history, The Storm That Swept Mexico explores the beliefs and conditions that led to the revolution, influenced the course of the conflict, and determined its consequences over the century that followed.

        Filmmakers:

        • Producer/ Director: Raymond Telles
        • Producer/Archivist: Kenn Rabin

         

        Time Allotment

        90-120 minutes + Assignments

        Learning Objectives

        Women constitute half of the world’s population yet their contributions to major social, cultural and political events are often overlooked, misunderstood, misrepresented, or undocumented. Using The Storm that Swept Mexico: Revolutionary Women Film Module as a guide, students will:

        • Discuss how gender shapes our understanding of history and continues to impact expectations and opportunities for individuals in the present
        • Examine the motivations that led women to join the Mexican Revolution, and how women’s ability to contribute to society changed during the revolutionary period
        • Understand why women’s participation was crucial to the Revolution

         

        Supplies

        1. Teacher Handout A: Before the Revolution
        2. Teacher Handout B: Assignment Rubric
        1. Student Handout A: Breaking the Chains of Tradition Excerpt
        2. Student Handout B: Breaking the Chains Worksheet
        3. Student Handout C: Revolutionary Women Team Worksheet

         

        Learning Activities

        PRE-SCREENING ACTIVITIES

        The following Pre-Screening Activities are designed to prepare students to view The Storm that Swept Mexico: Revolutionary Leaders Film Module and introduce students to the ideas, themes and topics that will be explored in the Post-Screening Lesson.

         

        Activity 1: The Seeds of Revolution

        Time: 30 mins

        You will need: pens/pencils, sticky notes or note cards (6 colors), white/blackboard, markers/chalk, and Teacher Handout A: Before the Revolution

        Goal: Students will examine how gender shapes individuals’ opportunities to participate in society and how the restrictions that limited opportunities and civil liberties for women in pre-revolutionary Mexico provided a motivation for their participation in the Revolution.

        PART 1:

        • Divide the class into six teams and assign each team an area of society that they will focus on from the following categories: Home and Family, Workforce, Education, Politics and Government, Military, and Media.
        • Assign each team a color and give them a stack of corresponding Post-it® notes.
        • Ask the teams to think about all the ways people participate in and contribute to that area of society in contemporary America. Instruct them that they have 3 minutes to brainstorm as a group and come up with as many roles that people play in their category as possible and write each individual role on a sticky note.
        • While the teams are working, create a chart on the board with three columns, one for each of the following categories: Women’s Roles, Men’s Roles and Both. Students will add the sticky notes from the brainstorming activity to the chart, so be sure to make enough space in each column.
        • When time is up, ask students to quickly review their results and consider if they associate any of these roles specifically with men or women. Give the teams one minute to sort their sticky notes into 3 piles: Women’s Roles, Men’s Roles and Both.
        • Invite a representative from each team up to the board. Have them place the Post-it® notes in the chart and read out the name of their category and a selection of three or four roles they came up with. When all the teams have added their ideas to the chart, examine the results as a class, using the following prompts as a guide:
        1. Do we see any patterns emerging?
        2. What areas of our society do we associate with women? With men? With both?
        3. Are there some roles that are reserved for primarily for men or for women? Is that a good thing? Why or why not?
        4. Do you think your gender shapes the way you participate in society? If so, how?
        5. Are you treated differently by society because of your gender?
        6. Is there anything about the way roles are distributed between women and men that you would like to change? If so, what changes would you like to make?
        7. How would you go about making those changes? (Examples: donate to a cause, vote, write a letter to a political representative, write a blog, join a protest, join a militant group, etc.) 

        PART 2:

        • Without disclosing the source, read out the list of civil rights restrictions experienced by Mexican women during the Porfiriato, including those imposed by the Mexican Civil Codes of 1870 and 1884 as listed in Teacher Handout A: Before the Revolution.
        • Revisit the chart and ask students how women’s and men’s roles might change if each of these restrictions were imposed on women today. Revise the chart to reflect the roles that women and men would play in this environment and discuss:
        1. If you were a woman living with these restrictions, what would your life be like?
        2. If you were a teenaged girl, what expectations would you have for your future?
        3. If you were a woman and these restrictions were imposed during your lifetime, how would you respond?
        • Reveal that this list reflects the restrictions on Mexican women’s civil rights in the period before the Mexican Revolution and share the following summary: Prior to the Mexican Revolution, rights and opportunities for women were limited. Mexican women’s lives had been shaped for centuries by a conservative social and religious culture influenced heavily by the Catholic Church. Women were not recognized as citizens and were unable to vote. In the late 19th century, additional laws were enacted that limited women’s rights and opportunities even further. The Civil Codes of 1870 and 1884 imposed severe legal restrictions on women, including those discussed in our activity. As historian Shirlene Soto states, “Prior to the Revolution, Mexican Women lived in virtual seclusion. Only 8.82 percent of Mexican women were gainfully employed in 1910; marriage, family life and the Catholic Church dominated their existence. In the early 1910s…a British visitor noted that ‘the life of a Mexican woman is not a jovial one; she marries straight from the convent or school, and her home is her horizon.”
        • Reflection questions:
        1. If you were a woman living during this time, would you take action against these restrictions? Why or why not?
        2. If so, what kind of actions might you take? (Could you do any of the following: donate to a cause, vote, write a letter to a political representative, organize a protest, join the Revolution, etc.?)
        3. As a woman, what challenges or dangers do you think you might face if you took action? Would you be willing to join the Revolution, even if there was a risk that you could be jailed, assaulted, or killed?
        4. What factors might influence your decision to join in the Revolution? (Example: If you had a family with children, how would that effect your decision to participate?)
        • Ask the class to consider this discussion when viewing The Storm that Swept Mexico: Revolutionary Women Film Module and let them know they will be referring back to this chart over the course of the lesson plan.

         

        Activity 2 (Optional): The Revolution and the Revolutionaries

        Time: 15 mins

        You will need: Pen and paper  and The Storm that Swept Mexico Glossary, Computer and LCD projector

        Goal: To prepare students to view The Storm that Swept Mexico: Revolutionary Leaders Film Module, by introducing a summary of the history of the Mexican Revolution and reviewing key figures and terms referred to in the film module. (NOTE: If students have been introduced to aspects of the Mexican Revolution in class, you may adjust this activity as needed. Teachers can also provide this activity as a take-home assignment to be completed prior to the commencement of the Revolutionary Leaders Lesson Plan.) 

        • Provide students with a summary of the Mexican Revolution from one of the following links:
        1. EDSITEment, The Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920: http://edsitement.neh.gov/centennial-mexican-revolution-1910-2010
        2. The Mexican Revolution and its aftermath, 1910–40, Britannica.com: https://www.britannica.com/place/Mexico/The-Mexican-Revolution-and-its-aftermath-1910-40
        • Working in pairs, instruct students to research the following terms:
        1. Key Figures: Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa Francisco, and Madero Porfirio Díaz
        2. Key Terms: Porfiriato, Industrialization, Hacienda System, Zapatista, Villista
        • Once the students have completed their research, ask for volunteers to share their results with the class. Instruct students to keep their notes and use them as a reference during the screening.

         

        VIEWING THE FILM

        Time: 15 minutes

        You will need: pen and paper, LCD projector or DVD player, and The Storm that Swept Mexico: Revolutionary Women Film Module

        • Read the summary for the film, The Storm that Swept Mexico, and explain to the students that they will be viewing the Revolutionary Leaders Video Module.
        • Using the Pre-Screening Activities as a guide, instruct students to take notes as they view the video and list at least three factors that would have compelled women to join the Revolution.

         

        POST-SCREENING ACTIVITIES

        Time: 35-60 minutes

        You will need: pen and paper, white/blackboard, sticky notes or note cards (6 colors), Student Handout B: Breaking the Chains of Tradition, Student Handout C: Breaking the Chains Worksheet, Student Handout D: Revolutionary Women Team Worksheet, and computers with Internet access (optional).

        Review:

        • Begin by reviewing the screening of The Storm that Swept Mexico: Revolutionary Women Module and discuss the students’ experience of the film.
        1. What roles are women depicted playing during and after the Revolution?
        2. Based on what we saw in the film, and discussed during the prescreening activities, what circumstances might have compelled women to join the Revolution?

         

        1. Introduction:

        • Instruct the students that they will be working in teams to research how women shaped and were shaped by the revolutionary period. They will examine the motivations women had for joining the Revolution, the sacrifices they made, and the ways women contributed during this period.

         

        2. Team Research:

        • Divide the class into six teams and tell them that they will have 15 minutes to review Student Handout B: Breaking the Chains of Tradition. The team should work together to answer the questions in Student Handout C: Breaking the Chains Worksheet.
        • If time and resources are available, expand the activity by assigning each team a research subject from the list of Revolutionary Women below. Using the Internet and library, have the teams research their subject and complete Student Handout D: Revolutionary Women Team Worksheet.

        Revolutionary Women Research Subjects:

        • Dolores Jimenez y Muro
        • Hermila Galindo
        • Margarita Neri
        • Juana Belén Gutiérrez de Mendoza

         

        3. Group Discussion:

        • Once the teams have completed Student Handout B: Research Team Worksheet, shuffle the students to make 5-6 new groups with at least one representative from the previous teams in each. Each student in the group should share the information they gathered with their research team and work with the group to answer the following Discussion Questions:
        1. What common factors motivated these women to participate in bringing about the Revolution?
        2. How did the revolutionary period change the opportunities these women had to participate in society?
        3. What if anything did they have to sacrifice by joining the Revolution?
        4. In what ways did these women help make the Revolution possible?

        NOTE: If time is limited, the class can reconvene after the research teams have completed their worksheets and each team can share their findings with the whole class, followed by a group discussion.

         

        4. Class Reflection:

        • As a class, review the Discussion Questions and ask the teams to share their answers.
        • Revisit the chart created during Pre-Screening Activity 1: The Seeds of Revolution, reflecting the roles and status of women before the Revolution. Ask students how they would revise the chart to reflect the participation of women in Mexican society during the Revolutionary period, based on what they have.
        • The class can add sticky notes as necessary to reflect the roles and contributions that their subjects made during the revolutionary period.

         

        Culminating Activity

        ASSESSMENT ACTIVITIES

        Using the video module and previous activities as a guide, instruct students to write an essay based on one the following:

        • In the film, Elena Poniatowska states, “I think…without the women, there would be no Revolution.” If you were a Mexican woman living during the revolutionary period, what factors would motivate you to join the Revolution, how would you choose to participate, and what would you hope to accomplish?
        • If your research subject was alive today, what circumstances in your school or community would she want to address and/or improve? What would her goals be? Who would she work with to accomplish these goals? What steps might she take? How would the school/community be different if she was successful in her efforts? What would the outcome look like?
        • If you were going to join the fight of one woman, who would you choose and why? What question would you ask her? What advice would you give her?
        • Which woman/effort do you think would have the greatest impact on society today? Who would society most likely listen to? Why do you think that is? Evaluation Use Teacher Handout B: Essay

         

        EVALUATION

        Use Teacher Handout B: Essay Assignment Rubric to assess student’s research. Share the rubric with students to guide their process.

         

         

        EXTENSION ACTIVITIES

        1. Revolutionary Women Then and Now

        • A century after the Mexican Revolution, women are still leading the way in revolutionary movements around the world. Have students identify and research an individual or community of women from a contemporary revolutionary movement, and compare her/their experiences with those of women from the Mexican Revolution.
        1. Ask students to write a dialogue between a woman from each movement. They should discuss their motivations for joining their movements, their methods of participation, and what they each hope to accomplish.
        2. Students should also consider what questions they might have, what lessons they could learn and what choices each woman might make if she were in the other’s shoes.
        3. Students can work with a partner and present the dialogues to the class, and/or they can be collected in a Voices of Revolution chapbook.

         

        2. “Valentina” and the Songs of the Revolution

        Corridos are narrative songs that were hugely popular during the Mexican Revolution. The songs often share stories about daily life and events from history and were used to spread important social and political information. One of the most famous corridos is Valentina, which tells the story of a sergeant who is in love with a soldadera. Download the song Valentina and its lyrics from The Storm that Swept Mexico website (www.pbs.org/storm-that-swept-mexico) and share with the class.

        • Have students research the history and cultural impact of the corridos including other famous songs about soldaderas such as La Adelita.
        • Provide students with the following prompts to guide their research:
        1. How were corridos used during and after the Mexican Revolution?
        2. Who wrote them and who were they written for?
        3. What purpose did they serve?
        4. Why were they important?
        5. How did these iconic songs shape the story of the soldaderas?
        6. How does the historical soldadera compare to the soldadera of the corridos?
        • Using their research as a guide, have students write their own corridos. The website www.corrdos.org created by the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service provides a step-by-step guide on how to write and perform your own corridos and includes samples songs, videos, history and background music.
        • Suggest that they reference the themes of the revolutionary corridos and tell the story of an individual or community of women who have taken a stand against oppression. They can tell a personal story about themselves or someone close to them or they can use the corrido to talk about a historic figure or woman from their community.
        • Students can display their completed corrido lyrics and/or record and perform them for the class.

         

        3. This Just In: Dispatches from the Revolution

        Ask students to imagine they are reporters during the Mexican Revolution and have them select a revolutionary woman to “interview.”

        • Instruct them to ask questions about her life before the Revolution, her motivations for taking action, and the challenges and successes she has experienced since she became active in the cause.
        • Remind students to write the subject’s answers in her “voice” and to include specific details and vivid imagery to make the subject come alive.
        • Since the Mexican Revolution was the first civil war to be recorded on motion picture film, students can take it further by working with a partner and videotaping the “interviews” in the style of a news reel.

         

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