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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: Defining Feminism

Type: Assignment
Subjects: Social Studies, English Language Studies
Grades: Grades 9-10
Duration: 2 lessons
Purpose: To examine the meaning of the term feminism
Summary: Students will investigate the connotations of the word “feminism” and discuss the role of feminism for women of today and of the next generation.

Before Exploring

Write the word "feminism" on the board. Ask students to brainstorm any words they connect with the term, and create a word web by listing student responses.

If necessary, explain the meaning of denotation and connotation. Have a student look up the definition of feminism. Write it on the word web. Then ask students to identify which words on the web show a positive connotation for feminism, and which show a negative connotation for feminism.

Ask students if they think of themselves as feminist, and why.

Outline the Opportunity

Allow students at least one hour to view the topic Equality First: The Royal Commission on the Status of Women on the CBC Digital Archives website, including the additional clip 'Feminism in 2001.'  Students should find all references to feminism and record their findings on the download sheet Defining Feminism.

Have students share their findings in small groups, and discuss why they think feminism carries both positive and negative connotations. They should further discuss what the negative connotations of feminism might mean for their generation of girls and women, and for the generation to come.

Revisit and Reflect

Discuss students' findings with them, focusing on the idea that everyone who believes in equality for women is a feminist.

Students can expand on their initial findings and reflect in their journal on what the idea of feminism means to them, how it affects them, and how they think it will affect the next generation. Do they think feminism still has a role in Canadian society today? Why or why not? Do they consider themselves a feminist? Have their ideas changed since viewing the website? Why or why not?


Ask students to look for the word "feminism" in various websites and newspaper and magazine articles. Have them chart the positive and negative ways that "feminism" is referred to in these media. Then have them write a one-page summary of their findings.


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