Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Women and American Revolution vs. Women and Islamic Revolution Critical Reading Strategies and Socratic Seminar
Brad Peck
AP US History
Time Frame:
2 class periods (85 minute block)
Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

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. 

  • 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

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 materials (book, article, video documentary, 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

Digital History: Women
Digital History features resource guides by topic and period. Reference resources include classroom handouts, chronologies, encyclopedia articles, glossaries, and an audio-visual archive including speeches, book talks and e-lectures by historians, and historical maps, music, newspaper articles, and images. The site's Ask the HyperHistorian feature allows users to pose questions to professional historians.

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 dowry, unless the divorce has been caused by some fault

on her part. There is more difficulty in a woman's getting a divorce from her husband.



Document 6  


Source: Women in Islam. Marjorie Wall Bingham and Susan Hill Gross.1980




In 1899, Qasim Amin published a book called The Emancipation of Women. In the book

he called for such mild reforms as:


1) some basic education for women


2) somewhat more physical freedom though not outlawing the  veil


3) changes in the divorce laws to make them fairer to women


Though these suggestions no longer seem radical, his book caused violent opposition in

Egypt. Articles, books and pamphlets were written against his idea. He, however,

continued his campaign for the liberation of Egyptian women.  … He is credited with

starting the Egyptian movement for rights of women.




EGYPT 1952:


A religious ruling denied women the right to vote because they were too "swayed by

emotions and, therefore, of incompetent and unstable nature." For ten more years the

"Daughters of the Nile" and other groups fought to get women the vote.


EGYPT 1962:


Women received the right to vote. The first woman minister was appointed.


In the charter of 1962 (after the Revolution of 1958 brought Nasser to power) was the

following declaration:


Women must be regarded as equal to man and she must therefore shed the remaining

shackles that impede her free movements, so that she may play a constructive and

profoundly important part in shaping the life of the country.









Document 7


Source: Women in the Middle East: Tradition and Change. Ramsay M. Harik.1996


A popular Islamic leader and television personality in Cairo explains the resurgence of

veiling during the mid 20th century in this way: the sight of a woman's beauty- especially

her hair- is so alluring that it can be intolerably distracting to men. It turns their

thoughts away from pious, proper behavior: an adolescent youth suffers from frustrated

sexual desire, and a middle aged man thinks of discarding his wife and finding a much

younger woman.  To prevent men from experiencing this agitation, which makes them

uncomfortable and can even lead to social disorder, it is the duty of all women,

regardless of age or condition, to conceal their hair and shape of their bodies. Women

must behave in such a way as to remove temptation from men's paths. In this respect,

women are held responsible for men's emotions and conduct.


A woman's freedom to leave her home and do what she needs or wants to may thus, in a

given situation, depend on her wearing the veil (hijab). Assertion of her religious and

cultural identity, in a time of fast-changing values and practices, may impel her to put on

the veil. The social setting in which she lives may require the veil. But the ultimate

meaning of "covering" still raises disturbing questions.





Document 8


Source: The Iranians: Persia, Islam, and the Soul of a Nation. Sandra Mackey. 1997



Reza Sha Pahlevi ruled from 1921 to his abdication in September 1941.


Of Reza Shah's moves against the institutions and practices of Shiism, none elicited the

same level of public response as did changes in the status of women. In an act pregnant

with symbolism, Reza Shah put women on the front line of his social revolution against

Islam. His motives rested in nationalism rather than in an engagement with the questions

of religions and patriarchy.  Illiteracy among women denied skills needed for nation

building. Child brides and the practice of muta, or temporary marriage brushed Iran with

the stain of backwardness. Finally, the chador of funereal black that enveloped women

spoke not only of the subordination of females but the subordination of Iran.  By tearing

away the veil, an emblem of religious traditionalism, Reza Shah announced his intentions

to enlist women in the resurrection of Iran.  But the unveiling of women enraged the

religious establishment.


The confrontation between Reza Shah and the clergy over the veil began almost by

accident.  In March 1928, the Shah's wife came to Qom to pray at the shrine of Fatima.

While in an upper gallery, changing from a heavy chador designed for the street to a

lighter one for prayer, she momentarily exposed her face.  A mullah happened to see her.

With a chorus of students behind him, he poured shame upon her.  The next day, Reza

Shah pulled up in front of the gold-domed shrine accompanied by two armored cars and

four hundred troops. He strolled through the gate in his heavy military boots and across

the graves of Shiism's holy men. Finding the offending mullah, he knocked off his

Turban, grabbed him by the hair, and thrashed him with a riding crop. Then he turned and

left, leaving Qom and Iranian Shiism stunned. …


Throughout 1928, hints surfaced that the chador would be banished to the trash heap of

the past. Although angry demonstrations did nothing to deter Reza Shah from his chosen

path, he proceeded with caution. Women's groups composed of educated, middle-and

upper-class women organized to beat the drum of support. In 1934, government policy

first allowed, and then ordered, women teachers and female students to appear in school

without the chador. At the same time, cinemas, restaurants, and hotels, on pain of heavy

fines, unlocked their doors to both sexes. Finally, a 1935 government decree banned the

veil entirely.




Document 9



Source: Tumblr/The Punch

Prior to the rise of the Taliban, women in Afghanistan were protected under law and increasingly afforded rights in Afghan society. 


Document 10


Source: Faces in a Mirror: Memoirs from Exile. Princess Ashraf Pahlavi.1980.


In this memoir, the twin sister of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi [1941-1979], tells the

extraordinary story of her life and of her country. She narrates her own fiercely determined rise to

independence and the political activities of her family. The book offers inside information - as

only she could know them- on the events that surrounded the removal of her brother, the Shah,

the take-over by the Khomeini regime and the international furor that resulted from her brother's

treatment at a New York City Hospital.


Seeing my brother again, [1933] seeing what life was like in Switzerland, made me

desperately want to stay. I knew that it would be difficult to get my father's permission,

and I was too afraid to ask when he telephoned Le Rosey from Turkey. (He had gone to

see the man who had inspired so many of his plans for Iran, Mustafa Kemal, and he took

advantage of the international phone system, which we didn't have in Iran.)  I sent a

telegram, asking if I might remain and study in a European school.


His answer was a short, harsh cable: " Stop this nonsense and come home at once." There

was no explanation; but this too was typical of Reza Shah. I was furious and disappointed

and hurt when I realized that no matter how much education my father might allow at

home, I would always be denied the opportunities he gave my brothers. Disappointed and

angry though I was, I didn't dream of disobeying. In the Middle Eastern world, fathers

were obeyed even if they weren't kings.


My father's answer closed the door forever on a dream that had become for a little while

more real and more compelling than the life that was chartered for me. For a brief,

tantalizing moment I had seen the reality of a world where a woman could develop her

capabilities, could shape and form her own life. In Europe I had seen it, touched it,

experienced it, but now the moment was over for me. I vowed that in the years to come I

would find a way to make contact with Europe and the Western world.



Document 11


Source: The Washington Post. Friday, 10-19-2001 " 'Small Steps' for Afghan

            Women's   Rights." Lois Raimondo




The silent shapes slide quickly and efficiently down the street, clothed from head to

toe in bulky garment called burqas. They do not talk to strangers. They rarely stop to

talk to other women. If approached, they turn their veiled faces and walk the other way


From a distance, the bright white, pastel blue and green burqas seemed to flutter

lightly across an otherwise hard and dusty landscape. Up close, the heft of the heavy

folds of fabric becomes noticeable when a husband beats his wife with a stick for

standing still as a foreigner comes near.  



Full description of activity or assignment.


  • Overview:  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.


  • Seminar Text:
  • Women and the American Revolution Document Based Questions (DBQ)
  • Islamic Women’s Rights DBQ


  • Rationale for text:
  • I chose these texts because the students will be studying the Women’s role in the development of the U.S. and to provide a comparison to current events to the events in our nation’s past.  This text is worthy of a seminar because it provides historical background that students will be responsible for on the AP U.S. History exam.                                                  


  • Content and Instructional Strategies


  • The students will be given a copy of both DBQ texts. 


  • Students are instructed to read each part of the DBQs before the seminar. They will need copies to mark up, or need to use binder paper as substitute space for margin notes. Students are instructed to mark up the piece as follows (see student handout):
  • Underline unfamiliar words. Try to figure out what they mean.
  •  Write down questions that occur to you about things you don’t understand, or about things you want to discuss.
  • Underline things you think are particularly important, and write why in the margin.
  • Write notes about what the reading section makes you think of, perhaps another text or event in your life.
  • Write your personal reaction to the text, whether you agree or disagree with the authors and why.
  • In the margin write a short paraphrase of any sentence or concept that seems more difficult. This way you will be able to remember it more easily later.    


  • Opening Questions:


  • Tell me more about . . .?


  • Support Questions


  • Can you give us an example of . . .?


  • What would be a good reason for . . .?
  • What is some evidence for . . .?


  • Cause and Effect


  • Why do you think that happened?


  • How could that have been prevented?


  • Do you think that would happen that way again?  Why?


  • What are some reasons people . . .?


  • Compare / Contrast


  • How are __________ and _______ alike?  Different?


  • What is that similar to?
  • Can you think of why this feels different than . . .?


  • Benefits / Burdens


  • What are some of the reasons this wouldn't (would) be a good idea?


  • Would anyone like to speak to the opposite side?


  • Those are some reasons this would work; what reasons might it not work?


  • Point of View / Perspective


  • How might she/he have felt . . .?


  • What do you think he/she was thinking when . . .?


  • He might not like that, but can you think of someone who would?


  • _____________ has expressed a different opinion.  Are there others?


  • Do you have a different interpretation?


  • Do you have different conclusions?


  • How did you arrive at your view?


  • Structure / Function


  • What were her/his choices of how to . . .?


  • Why was she/he doing that?  (Reply gives reason)  What do you think of that approach?


  • What better choices could he/she have made?


  • What rules would we need to make sure . . .?


  • Counterexample


  • Would that still happen if . . . ?


  • What might have made the difference?


  • Different Situation


  • Can you describe a situation that would . . .?


  • Suppose ________________.  Would that still be true?  Why or why not?


  • Solicit Questions     


  • What are some things that you wonder about?


  • What would you like to know about?


  • Are there questions we should remember now?


  • Personal Experience


  • What would you do in that situation?


  • Has anything like that ever happened to you?


  • In what way are you alike or different from . . .?


  • Preparation for the seminar (seminar text):  The students will be given background material to read the night before that gives a brief overview of early women’s rights and.  The students will be asked to answer simple questions that would act as a ticket just so they can begin the seminar with some prior knowledge. 


  • Room arrangement:  The desks will be in a circle so all of the students are able to see each other.  Tent cards with the student's names will be on the desks so the students are able to address each other by name and either agree with a point made or present an opposing opinion based on the text given.  


  • Preparation for the seminar (discussion skills):  As the facilitator I will explain to the students that when they have a response they should be able to point to a specific example or way to support their response from the text.  In addition to verbally giving the instructions to the students I will give them a handout with the way in which they can make the answers given more meaningful through the use of support found in the text.


  • Procedures for the seminar:  First the students will be seated.  The teacher, acting as the facilitator, will address the students and give them the guidelines of what is considered acceptable seminar behavior.  The students will be allowed to speak and address the questions asked, but will need to be respectful and raise their hands if they would like to speak.  The students will refer to each other by name, if agreeing or offering a counter response.  Each student will be required to speak and answer questions presented at least one time.  he students will answer the opening question/s and then proceed to answering other core questions as well as other potential questions.  After the questions have been answered the class will debrief about what they learned not only about the text, but also about the style of deliberation and discussion of the seminar.



  • Post-seminar and Debrief:  The class will discuss what they think went well with the seminar and what they think could have gone better with regards to                                                                                                                                                                            

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:



Students will be graded during Socratic Seminar for participation and preparation using the Socratic Seminar observation guide.  DBQ responses will be assessed according to DBQ Rubric. 


Writing Assessment: The students will choose which of the DBQ’s to respond to and write a 1-2 page essay in DBQ essay format.   .    The paper will be graded according to the DBQ writing rubric


Socratic Seminar:  Participant Rubric 

  A Level Participant
  • Participant offers enough solid analysis, without prompting, to move the conversation forward
  • Participant, through her comments, demonstrates a deep knowledge of the text and the question
  • Participant has come to the seminar prepared, with notes and a marked/annotated text  
  • Participant, through her comments, shows that she is actively listening to other participants
  • Participant offers clarification and/or follow-up that extends the conversation
  • Participant’s remarks often refer back to specific parts of the text.


B Level Participant

  • Participant offers solid analysis without prompting
  • Through comments, participant demonstrates a good knowledge of the text and the question
  • Participant has come to the seminar prepared, with notes and a marked/annotated text
  • Participant shows that he/she is actively listening to others and  offers clarification and/or follow-up


C Level Participant

  • Participant offers some analysis, but needs prompting from the seminar leader
  • Through comments, participant demonstrates a general
     knowledge of the text and question
  • Participant is less prepared, with few notes and no marked/annotated text
  • Participant is actively listening to others, but does not offer clarification and/or follow-up to others’ comments
  • Participant relies more upon his or her opinion, and less on the text to drive her comments


D or F Level Participant

  • Participant offers little commentary
  • Participant comes to the seminar ill-prepared with little understanding of the text and question
  • Participant does not listen to others, offers no commentary to further the discussion       
  • Participant distracts the group by interrupting other speakers or by offering off topic questions and comments.
  • Participant ignores the discussion and its participants


Socratic Seminar OBSERVATION Form


Your Name:___________________  Person you are observing:___________________


Does your partner have the Article and Cornell Notes on their desk?  Yes    or    No


Directions: Each time your partner does one of the following, put a check in the box.


Speaks in discussion:

















Makes eye contact with the person who is speaking:

















Refers to a line or specific point in the text:

















Asks a NEW question:

















Asks a FOLLOW-UP or CLARIFYING question:

















Responds/Makes a comment towards another speaker:

















Interrupts another speaker:

















Engages in side conversations:

















AFTER the discussion: What is the most interesting thing your partner said?



AFTER the discussion: What would you like to have said in the discussion?



___________________________Do NOT Write Below This Line--- Teacher Only____________________________


  1. 1.       Responds and engages in discussion during the seminar with QUALITY comments:

0                              2                              4                              6                              8                              10


  1. 2.       Refers appropriately to the text when speaking.

0                              2                              4                              6                              8                              10


  1. 3.       Actively listens closely/does NOT distract or interrupt

0                              2                              4                              6                              8                              10


Total Score:_____/30




AP US History – DBQ Rubric



Score  8-9


23pts    25pts

Score 5-7


20pts  21pts 22pts

Score 2-4

“C”  /  “D”

15pts  17pts 19pts

Score 0-1


0pts  9pts


Clear, well developed thesis

Contains a clear thesis with limited development

Lacks a thesis, or thesis may be confused or underdeveloped

No thesis

Understanding of the Question

Understands complexity of the question; deals with all parts of the question in depth

Limited or lack of understanding of complexity; may deal with one part of the question in some depth, or in a more general way

Ignores complexity; may deal with one part of the question, or all elements of the question in a superficial way

May simply paraphrase or restate the question


Provides effective analysis of the question; some imbalance permissible

Limited analysis, mostly describes

Weak or inappropriate analysis

No analysis

Documentary Evidence

Effectively uses a substantial number of documents.  Documents supplement analysis and are balanced with outside information

Effectively uses some of the documents; may only restate information found in documents

Poor use of documents with only brief citation or paraphrase; not enough documents used to support analysis

Almost no use of or inappropriate attempts to use documents

Supportive Information

Supports thesis with substantial, relevant information. Outside information is balanced with use of documents in the analysis of the question

Supports thesis with some factual information

Lacks supporting information, or information given is minimal

Incompetent, inappropriate responses

Grammar and Structure

May contain insignificant errors

May contain minor errors that do not detract from overall essay

May contain major errors

Contains many major or minor errors

Organization and Writing Style

Well organized and well written

Clearly organized and written, but not exceptional

Weak organization and writing

Disorganized and poorly written