Lesson plan

Who Was Dorothy Pitman Hughes?

This lesson plan teaches students about Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a black human rights activist, feminist, and child-care advocate. First, students will read a short passage, and then they will answer questions about important details from the text. Created for first graders and second graders, this engaging lesson helps build students' vocabulary and informational writing skills.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
  • Students will be able to recall information from experiences to answer a question.
  • Students will be able to gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
(5 minutes)
Learning About Dorothy Pitman Hughes
  • Bring the students together to a comfortable area.
  • Project the famous picture of Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes on the whiteboard.
  • Ask the students to turn and talk, sharing one thing they notice or are wondering about the picture or the people in the picture.
  • Allow a few students to share out their ideas.
  • Explain to the students that the photograph is of two very important activists from the Women's rightsAnd Civil rightsMovements. Elaborate that both movements sought to create a better, equal world for everyone.
  • Write Gloria SteinemAnd Dorothy Pitman HughesOn the whiteboard.
  • Explain to the students that today, to learn more about black history and black change-agents, they will learn about Dorothy Pitman Hughes by reading a short passage about her. Reinforce that today's lesson only skims the surface of important information about this incredible leader.
(20 minutes)
  • Tape the large chart paper on the whiteboard. On the top, write, "Questions We Still Have."
  • Pass out the Learning About Dorothy Pitman Hughes worksheet to students and project your copy on the whiteboard. Pass out a highlighter and sticky note to each student.
  • Read through the vocabulary on the left side of the worksheet, and provide context, images, and other related information as needed to support student understanding.
  • Read the text aloud 2-3 times. As you read, ask students to highlight the bolded/underlined vocabulary words. Refer back to the definitions on the left side of the worksheet to support student understanding.
  • Instruct students to jot down one question they have about Dorothy Pitman Hughes on their sticky note.
  • Ask a student volunteer to collect the sticky notes and place them on the chart. Explain to the students that asking questions after reading a story or text is a great way to continue to learn more about a topic or person.
  • Have students turn and talk about places they could look to find more information about Dorothy Pitman Hughes. Examples might include the internet, trusted websites, books, videos, or movies. Elaborate that they also might find information about her when reading other books about the Civil rightsAnd Women's rightsMovements.
(10 minutes)
  • Answer the first three questions on the Learning About Dorothy Pitman Hughes worksheet together as a class.
  • Encourage students to share their ideas and answers, referring back to the text for evidence.
(15 minutes)
  • Read aloud the final question on the Learning About Dorothy Pitman Hughes worksheet.
  • Brainstorm ideas about change-agents and inspirational people they know, reinforcing that it might be a family member, friend, teacher, or coach. Explain to the students they can also write about an inspirational person they've read about.
  • Help students come up with simple ideas about ways to make the world a better place right now. Examples might include being kind, helping someone, speaking up if someone is being mean, helping a younger family member get ready for school, etc.
  • Allow students time to answer the final question on the worksheet.
  • Rotate around the classroom and support students as needed.


  • Allow students to work in partnerships during guided instruction and independent work.
  • Define tricky academic vocabulary for students prior to reading.
  • Provide students with a short introduction about Dorothy Pitman Hughes prior to the lesson.
  • Provide age-appropriate background information about women's rights and civil rights prior to the lesson.


  • Provide students with access to age-appropriate websites about Dorothy Pitman Hughes, as well as a variety of other children's books. Have students compare/contrast their findings in writing.
  • Allow students to research other important leaders from the civil rights movement. Encourage them to create a timeline of important events from their findings.
  • Collect the worksheets and use them to assess students' ability to recall information from an experience to answer a question.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students share their inspirational person aloud with the rest of the class. If a student does not want to share, respect their boundaries.
  • Remind students that there are ways we can drive change right now in our classrooms, communities, and at home. Emphasize that their voices matter and each one of us can make the world a better place.
  • Encourage students to learn more about Dorothy Pitman Hughes and bring what they learned to class through writing, art, or creating a special project with their families.

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