Women and American Revolution vs. Women and Islamic Revolution Critical Reading Strategies and Socratic Seminar

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
2 class periods (85 minute block)
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
This lesson implements the Socratic Seminar Instructional Method to investigate Women and the Islamic Revolution.

This lesson implements the Socratic Seminar Instructional Method.  The Socratic seminar is a way to get all students involved.  Socratic seminars are useful in that it teaches the student to make a point through using the text for support, listen to other student's opinions and respect them and encourages students to think independently and learn cooperatively.  Socratic seminars force all of the students to think critically and use text to assess and analyze what they have read.  Each student is required to speak at least once so it encourages involvement by all students.

This lesson provides a vehicle for students to analyze and interpret primary source material included in AP US History Document Based Questions (DBQs) in an in-depth way and to provide students with strategies for critical reading of historic documents and text. 

Rationale (why are you doing this?)
  • Students in Advanced Placement courses will sit for the AP exam at the end of the course.  Document Based Questions (DBQs) are part of the overall exam.
  • The primary purpose of the document-based essay question is not to test students' prior knowledge of subject matter but rather to evaluate their ability to formulate and support an answer from documentary evidence.
  • Documents are chosen on the basis of both the information they convey about the topic and the perspective that they offer on other documents used in the exercise. Thus the fullest understanding of any particular document emerges only when that document is viewed within the wider context of the entire series
  • The Socratic seminar is a formal discussion, based on a text, in which the leader asks open-ended questions.  Within the context of the discussion, students listen closely to the comments of others, thinking critically for themselves, and articulate their own thoughts and their responses to the thoughts of others.  They learn to work cooperatively and to question intelligently and civilly
Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • The students will be able to demonstrate the essential knowledge of Women’s role in the American Revolution and the Islamic Revolutions through meaningful discussion in a seminar format
  • The students will demonstrate the ability to analyze and interpret a primary source document to increase understanding of events and life in United States history and in the Islamic world through discussion in the seminar format and through written expression in paragraph form.
  • Students will engage in substantive conversation in a way that builds an improved and shared understanding of the role of women in both movements and revolutions based on analysis of primary source documents in provided document based essays
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
  • SS6 1.9  Analyze how the roles of class, ethnic, racial, gender and age groups have changed in society, including causes and effects


  • SS6 1.6 Describe the major social institutions (family, education, religion, economy and government) and how they fulfill human needs


  • SS6 1.9, 1.10  Predict the consequences that can occur when:  institutions fail to meet the needs of individuals and groups individuals fail to carry out their personal responsibilities


  • SS6 3.1  Determine the causes, consequences and possible resolutions of cultural conflicts


  • Distinguish between and analyze primary sources and secondary sources


  • SS7 1.8, 2.1  Distinguish between fact and opinion and analyze sources to recognize bias and points of view


  • SS7 1.7, 3.5, 3.6  Develop a research plan and identify appropriate resources for investigating social studies topics


  • SS7 1.1, 1.4  Interpret maps, statistics, charts, diagrams, graphs, timelines, pictures, political cartoons, audiovisual materials, continua, written resources, art and artifacts
Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • DBQs attached (American Revolution and Islamic Women’s Rights)
  • Women’s History Web Sites 

American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women’s History and Culture in the United States
This Library of Congress site contains digital materials, an introduction to research in American women’s history, tips on searching for women’s history resources in the catalogs, and more

American Women’s History: A Research Guide (Mid TN State)
Is intended to assist researchers by providing primary source collections and other materials on the internet

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775-2000
This website is a project of the Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender at the State University of New York at Binghamton and includes roughly 900 documents, 400 images, and 350 links to other websites. There are twenty comprehensive lesson plans with over a hundred lesson ideas mounted in the Teacher’s Corner.



DBQ: Islamic Women  


Directions: The following question is based on the accompanying Documents 1-11. Some

of the documents have been edited for the purpose of this writing exercise.


The question is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. As you

analyze the documents, take into account both the sources of the documents and the

authors’ points of view. Write the essay on the following topic that integrates your

analysis of the documents. Do not simply summarize the documents individually. You

may refer to relevant historical facts and developments not mentioned in the documents.



1.  Has the rise and expansion of Islam broadened or restricted women’s rights?

   Based on the following documents, discuss the changes and dilemmas posed to women

   at different time periods and in varying Islamic communities. What kinds of additional

   documentation would help assess the impact of Islamic practices over time on women’s




Document 1  


Source: The Message: Selected Verses from The Holy Qur’an. Mohammed Keramat Ali.



And thus does their Lord answer their prayer: I shall not lose sight of the work of any of

you who works ( in My way) be it man or woman. You are members, one of another.

Surah Al-I-Imran 3:195


Source: The Holy Qur’an: Text ,Translation and Commentary. Abdullah Yusuf Ali.



O Prophet, say to thy wives and daughters

and the believing women, that they draw

their veils close to them; so it is likelier 

they will be known, and not hurt. - Surah 33:59



Document 2


Source:  World Civilizations: The Global Experience. Peter Stearns.2001


The prophet’s teachings proclaimed the equality of men and women before God and in

Islamic worship.  Women, most notably his wife Khadijah, were some of Muhammad’s

earliest and bravest followers.  They accompanied his forces to battle (as did the wives of

their adversaries) with the Meccans, and a woman was the first martyr for the new faith.

Many of the hadiths, or traditions of the prophet, which have played such a critical role in

Islamic law and ritual, were recorded by women.  In addition, Muhammad’s wives and

daughters, played an important role in compiling the Qur’an.





Document 3


Source: The Human Record: Sources of Global History. Vo. I. Andrea Overfield.2001


Men are appointed guardians over women, because of that in respect of which Allah has

made some of them excel others, and because the men spend their wealth. So virtuous

women are obedient and safeguard, with Allah’s help, matters the knowledge of which is

shared by them with their husbands. Surah: 4:35


Ibn Umar relates that the Honorable Prophet said: Every one of you is a steward and is

accountable for that which is committed to his charge. The ruler is a steward and is

accountable for his charge, a man is a steward in respect of his household, a woman is a

steward in respect of her husband’s house and his children. Thus everyone of you is a

steward and is accountable for that which is committed to his charge. ( Bohkari and


Abu Ali Talq ibn Ali relates that the Honorable Prophet said: When a man calls his wife

for his need, she should go to him even if she is occupied in baking bread.

(Tirmidhi and Nisai)…


Umm Salamah relates that the Honorable Prophet said: If a woman dies and her husband

is pleased with her, she will enter Paradise. (Tirmidishi)





Document 4

Source: The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History. Richard Bulliet. 1997


Slave Girls from Samarra.

This early 9thcentury wall painting is from the harem quarters of the Abbasid palace in Samarra. Unveiled slave girls commonly sang, danced, and played instruments at parties. Islamic law prohibited wine but wine songs feature prominently in Arabic poetry in this period. (Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz).




Document 5  


Source: The Human Record: Sources of Global History,V.II,2001. Andrea Overfield


Women in Ottoman Society. Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq,TURKISH LETTERS


To Ogier de Busbecq (1522-1590), the European diplomat who resided in sixteenth-century

Istanbul for six years, the role of women was one of many extraordinary aspects of Ottoman



The Turks are the most careful people in the world of the modesty of their wives, and

therefore keep them shut up at home and hide them away, so that they scarce see the light

of day. But if they have to go into the streets, they are sent out so covered and wrapped

up in veils that they seem to those who meet them mere gliding ghosts. They have the

means of seeing men through their linen or silken veils, while no part of their own body

is exposed to men’s view. For it is a received opinion among them, that no woman who is

distinguished in the very smallest degree by her figure or youth can be seen by a man

without his desiring her, and therefore without her receiving some contamination; and so

it is the universal practice to confine the women to the harem.  Their brothers are allowed

to see them, but not their brothers-in-law. Men of the richer classes, or of higher rank,

make it a condition when they marry, that their wives shall never set foot outside the

threshold, and that no man or woman shall be admitted to see them for any reason

whatever, not even their nearest relations except their fathers and mothers, who are

allowed to pay a visit to their daughters at the Turkish Easter.[ A reference to the festival

of Bairam, which follows Ramadan]. …


The Turks are not forbidden by any law to have as many concubines as they please in

addition to their lawful wives. Between the children of wives and those of concubines

there is no distinction, and they are considered to have equal rights. … Concubines are

entitled to their freedom if they have borne children to their master. … A wife who has a

portion settled on her [brought dowry to the marriage], is the mistress of her husband’s

house, and all other women have to obey her orders.  The husband, however, may choose

which of them shall spend the night with him. He makes known his wishes to the wife

and she sends to him the slave he has selected. Only Friday night, which is their Sabbath,

is supposed to belong to the wife… On all the other nights he may do as he pleases.

Divorces are granted among them for many reasons easy for the husbands to invent. The

divorced wife receives back her dowr