Ahead of the Curve: During the exhibit


Ahead of the Curve: During the exhibit


Legacy Washington, Office of the Secretary of State




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Grade Levels


Ahead of the Curve  celebrates the 100th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote with an exhibit and online profiles.

Washington has been Ahead of the Curve since it first granted women the right to vote in 1883. In 1910 our state became the fifth to include women's suffrage in its constitution — a decade ahead of the nation. And Washington women keep blazing trails in fields from science to bridge building. Ahead of the Curve highlights the pioneering spirit of some larger-than-life women and little-known stories with big impacts on Washington, the nation, and beyond.

The lesson plans follow the inquiry arc as outlined in the College, Career, Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards and are common core aligned (Washington State standards) to challenge students in essential reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. These plans are poised to engage middle and high school students before, during, and after visiting the Ahead of the Curve exhibit (either in person or online).

Lesson Objectives

  • EQ: Does our history shape our future?

At the end of this lesson students will…

  • Understand the accomplishments of women of focus in ‘Ahead of the Curve’
  • Narrow options for after visit project to three pairs of women



Washington State Social Studies Standards
  • SSS4.6-8.1.  Analyze multiple factors, make generalizations, and interpret sources to formulate a thesis in a paper or presentation, while observing rules related to plagiarism and copyright.
  • H2.6-8.2.  Explain and analyze how individuals and movements have shaped Washington State history since statehood.
  • H4.6-8.2.  Analyze how a historical event in Washington State history helps us to understand contemporary issues and events.


Entry Task:
  • List the topics for each panel in the exhibit on the board or a handout. Have students prioritize their interest in each topic, then discuss with a seatmate why they’ve prioritized it that way.
  • Topics: Education, Transportation, Environment, Medicine and Science, Work and Wages, Technology and Philanthropy, Television News, Mountain Climbers, Law and Justice
  • Encourage students to spend time at topics that are immediately of interest, but also challenge themselves to find the value in other topics.
Ahead of the Curve Exhibit:
  • Hand out the field notes page. Students should spend time observing the exhibit, reading the panels, and understanding the overall theme. While doing so, they will take two rounds of notes:
    1. First, they visit 7-9 panels and note the names, dates, accomplishments of the two women highlighted. (Ensure students understand that each panel highlights a historical Washingtonian woman who was ahead of the curve in the category and a contemporary Washingtonian woman who is ahead of the curve in the same category.)
    2. Second, they pick 3 panels to focus on in more detail imagining the thinking of the two women highlighted:
      • Their ideas about what the historical Washingtonian would be surprised by with regard to the accomplishments of the contemporary Washingtonian.
      • Then, their ideas about what the contemporary Washingtonian would be inspired by with regard to the accomplishments of the historical Washingtonian.
  • Reflection: Students should reflect with a creative paragraph imagining which pair of women would have the most interesting conversation and what would be some of the points they’d discuss.

Formative Assessment

  • Student discussion of prioritization
  • Student notes and reflections
Ahead of the Curve: During the exhibit