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 2

7th Grade

Unit Summary

Please Note: In September 2024, this unit and its lesson plans will receive the enhancements outlined here.

The overall length of units may increase or decrease by up to 2 instructional days, with some lessons from the original unit removed, combined, or otherwise adjusted. Teachers should pay close attention as they intellectually prepare to account for the updated pacing, sequencing, and content.

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.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials


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

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

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.



atone crusade culpable denounce entitled fervent fellowship grievance inferno marvel marvel naïve omen profound preposterous resolve resolve scorn subversive tainted uprising


author's perspective/point of view author's purpose central idea connotation dramatic irony epigraph juxtaposition literary point of view mood objective point of view/perspective structure tone

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 2, view our 7th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the guidance provided under 'Notes for Teachers' below in addition to the Unit Launch to determine which supports students will need at the unit and lesson level. To learn more, visit the Supporting All Students Teacher Tool.

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

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 1

Longing to Belong: Poems, Essays, and Short Stories


Unit 3

Pursuing Dreams: A Raisin in the Sun

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