Lesson plan

Important Women in History

Celebrate women by learning about their achievements in history and comparing and contrasting their unique qualities. Use this lesson with your students to practice comparing and contrasting with informational texts.
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Students will be able to compare and contrast important women in history.

(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to think about two famous female musicians who they hear on the radio.
  • Accept student answers and decide which two female musicians you will focus on for this introduction.
  • Direct students to turn to a shoulder or table partner to discuss these two female musicians. (What do they have in common? How are they different?)
  • Bring the class back together and have volunteers share out the answers.
  • Explain to the class that they just completed a warm-up compare and contrast activity, and that is the skill of today’s lesson.
(15 minutes)
  • Provide the definitions of the two key terms for today’s lesson. To compare, we think about the similarities between two or more things. To contrast, we look for the differences between two or more things.
  • Display the chart paper with the Venn diagram drawn on it. Review that the middle part of the Venn diagram is for the similarities, or the comparisons. Remind students that the outer circles of the Venn diagram are for the differences, or the contrasting information.
  • Label the tops of the Venn diagram with the topics that will go in each section. (Pocahontas and Sacagawea)
  • Read aloud the Women in History: Sacagawea worksheet and the Women in History: Pocahontas worksheet.
  • Model filling out the Venn diagram with information from the two texts by writing the similarities and differences on the chart paper.
(20 minutes)
  • Put students into partnerships and give one piece of construction paper and a marker to each partnership.
  • Instruct students to draw a Venn diagram on the construction paper.
  • Distribute a copy of the Famous Olympic Athletes: Mary Lou Retton worksheet and the Florence Griffith-Joyner worksheet.
  • Explain to students that they will take turns reading the passages aloud to each other by reading a paragraph at a time. Inform them that they will complete the Venn diagram on the construction paper as a team after they have finished reading the two texts.
  • Give students time to complete the task, and circulate to offer support and guidance where needed.
  • Get students’ attention and have them share some similarities and differences they discovered between the two famous women in history. (Tip: Call on students to restate what another student said, and call on students to agree/disagree with information that is shared.)
  • Create a class copy of the Venn diagram with the students’ shared answers.
(15 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will now independently compare and contrast information about two famous women in history.
  • Explain that they will read one text that has information about the two women, and they will complete a Venn diagram on their own.
  • Distribute a copy of the Bessie Coleman and Mae Jemison worksheet.


  • Offer sentence strips with similarities and differences already on them for students to place in the correct section of the Venn diagram.
  • Pair struggling students with more advanced students to offer support on the reading passages.
  • Offer students different colored highlighters to mark the similarities and differences they found in the texts.
  • Provide reading assistance to students struggling with reading comprehension during the independent practice.


  • Stimulate your advanced students by giving them a writing task. Instruct these students to take the Venn diagram created in any section of the lesson today, and turn the information into a digital presentation using whatever format is available to your class.
(2 minutes)
  • Collect each student’s copy of the Bessie Coleman and Mae Jemison worksheet to check the Venn diagram for accuracy.
  • Call on volunteers to share information from their Venn diagrams.
(3 minutes)
  • Review the purpose of the Venn diagram, focusing on what information goes in each section.
  • Take a poll of students to find out which woman from history they found most interesting. (Tip: Write the female names and assign each a number. Have students show the number they chose by holding up that many fingers.)
  • Call on nonvolunteers to share an important fact from the text about the female they chose as the most interesting.

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