A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights by Kate Hannigan and Alison Jay

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Did you know there was a time when girls were not allowed to speak in front of an audience at school? During the mid 1800’s, Belva Lockwood saw this happening and knew it was wrong. She decided to end this oppression by teaching public speaking courses to girls.

There were other injustices, too, and Belva was not going to stand by and let them happen. When someone told her “no” because she was a woman, she kept persisting until she heard “yes”. When she was not allowed to vote, Belva campaigned and ran for president.

This fascinating story will appeal to all readers as they learn a lesson in speaking up for what’s right. Belva Lockwood’s example in determination inspires readers to persevere when faced with opposition.

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Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Create II.A.2 Learners contribute a balanced perspective when participating in a learning community by adopting a discerning stance toward points of view and opinions expressed in information resources and learning products. 

  • Ask learners to think of a time when they saw something that wasn’t fair. What happened? Were they able to voice their opinion?
  • Introduce the story. Invite learners to raise their hand when they hear something that is unfair. Ask what makes it unfair. Welcome different points of view.
  • Ask, “I wonder if you encounter unfairness at school?” Ask learners to respond by writing unjust scenarios on sticky notes. Collect the notes and read some to the group. Brainstorm ideas to fix problematic situations.
  • Consider grouping students. Give each group one problem to discuss and solve. Students can act out a scene for the class to observe.

Enrich learning with primary resources. Read Pairing Picture Books and Primary Sources: A Lady Has the Floor by Tom Bober. This Knowledge Quest blog post is full of great ideas!

Cover of Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades by Maureen Schlosser and Rebecca Granatini.
If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

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