Fighting Injustice: Uprising & Flesh and Blood So Cheap

Students explore the American experience through close study of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the social history of the early 20th century.

Unit Summary

On March 25, 1911, in New York City, 146 workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory perished in a fire. Only a year earlier, many of these workers—predominantly young, immigrant women—walked the picket lines to protest unjust treatment and unsafe conditions in that very factory. After many months of impassioned but unsuccessful negotiations, many of these women (who had few other options for employment) returned to work. And on that fateful day in 1911, the true plight of factory workers was revealed to the world.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was one of the greatest tragedies of the early 20th century, and yet the details of this event are largely unknown to the many Americans today. This unit provides 7th grade students an opportunity to study this significant moment in United States history in depth, discovering the complex social and political forces that preceded the fire, and analyzing the far-reaching implications of that terrible day.

Students will read two texts in this unit. The first, Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin, a National Book Award finalist, is a nonfiction text that provides a detailed historical account of the fire. Students will begin the unit by reading the first several chapters of this text, grounding themselves in the historical context of the early 20th century, with a particular focus on the history of immigration and the experience of immigrants in New York City during this time period. They will also study the history of garment making in the United States and the development of the garment factory. With this schema, students will dive into the second text: Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix. This historical fiction novel tells the story of three young women whose lives intersect at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. This text brings the historical facts from Flesh and Blood So Cheap to life through engaging, complex, diverse characters as they make their way in a rapidly changing world.

Through the lens of this tragic fire, students will continue their year-long interrogation of the factors that have shaped American history and identity, and further develop their understanding of what it means to be American.

Subscribe to Fishtank Plus to unlock access to additional resources for this unit, including:

  • Unit Launch
  • Enhanced Lesson Plans
  • Student Handout Editor
  • Google Classroom Integration
  • Vocabulary Package
  • Fluency Package
  • Data Analysis Package
 

Texts and Materials

Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, we receive a small portion of the proceeds, which supports our non-profit mission.

Core Materials

Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

?

  • How does meaningful social change come about?
  • How do gender and class shape a person’s experience of the world?
  • What are the characteristics of historical fiction, and how do authors of historical fiction use facts when writing fictional text?

Enduring Understandings

  • The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire remains one of the most significant workplace disasters in American history; the impact of this event has been far-reaching and can still be seen today.
  • Conditions in factories were horrifying in the early 20th century, and workers had to fight tirelessly for safety, respect, and justice in their jobs; women and immigrants were at the forefront of this fight.

Vocabulary

?

Text-based

atone culpable denounce disdain entitled fervent fellowship grievance haughty inferno lament marvel marvel profound resolve resolve subversive tainted uprising

To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 7th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

?

  • Early 20th Century immigration
  • Early 20th Century New York
  • Early 20th Century garment manufacturing
  • Class divide/classism
  • Sexism/gender roles
  • Women’s suffrage
  • Unions
  • Strikes
  • Strike breaking
  • Workers’ rights
  • Socialism
  • Fire safety regulations
  • Contemporary garment manufacturing

Notes for Teachers

?

  • In this unit, students will have to move back and forth between a fiction and nonfiction text. While it may feel difficult to pause reading of one text to read another, lessons are paced so that the reading from Uprising and Flesh and Blood So Cheap correspond closely with one another. Generally, students will read from the nonfiction text about specific historical events, and then read the passage in Uprising that refers to those events. In this way, students will have much of the schema necessary to comprehend events in the novel.
  • This unit contains difficult subject matter. Both texts contain vivid descriptions of the Triangle Fire and provide details about the extreme suffering of the people who died that day. Flesh and Blood So Cheap includes two images of dead bodies. Students may find this section of the unit (Lessons 19-25) especially upsetting;be mindful of the possibility that you may have students who have experienced fires in their own lives.
  • It is important to note that these two texts focus almost exclusively on the experiences of white people. In 1910, just 2 percent of New York City’s population was African American, and black women were generally excluded from garment factory jobs (brief discussion of this on page 93 of FBSC). However, students should be aware that much of the cotton used in garment factories was picked by black tenant farmers in the southern United States.

Lesson Map

11

  • Uprising pp. 121 – 144

    RL.7.2

Write objective summaries of several chapters in Uprising.

17

  • Uprising pp. 235 – 268

    RL.7.2

Provide objective summaries of several chapters in Uprising.

24

  • Uprising pp. 316 – 330

    RL.7.6

Explain how Haddix develops and contrasts characters’ perspectives.

32

Writing

    L.7.1.a

    L.7.1.b

Incorporate simple, compound, and complex sentences into writing.

34

2 days

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

?

L.7.1

L.7.1.a

L.7.1.b

RI.7.2

RI.7.3

RI.7.4

RI.7.6

RL.7.2

RL.7.3

RL.7.4

RL.7.5

RL.7.6

RL.7.9

RL.8.6

SL.7.1

SL.7.1.b

SL.7.1.d

W.7.1

W.7.1.a

W.7.1.b

W.7.1.c

W.7.1.d

W.7.1.e

Spiral Standards

?

L.7.2

L.7.3

L.7.4

L.7.4.c

L.7.5

L.7.5.a

L.7.5.c

L.7.6

RI.7.1

RI.7.10

RL.7.1

RL.7.10

W.7.10

W.7.4

W.7.5

W.7.7

W.7.8

W.7.9