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.

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Texts and Materials

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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

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  • 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

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Text-based

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

Related Teacher Tools:

Content Knowledge and Connections

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  • 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

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  • 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

1

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 1 – 6

  • Uprising pp. 1 – 5

    RL.7.3

    RI.7.3

Explain the impact of the Triangle Fire by studying a fictional and nonfiction account of the event.

2

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 7 – 19

    RI.7.3

    W.7.1

    W.7.1.a

    W.7.1.b

Explain push factors leading to mass immigration of Russian Jews and Italians to the United States and identify similarities and differences between those two groups. 

3

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 28 – 39 — Begin at “The Empire City” and just the section, “Jacob Riis” on page 39

    RI.7.6

Identify the author’s purpose and point of view in a section of Flesh and Blood So Cheap.

4

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 59 – 74 — Start at "Rise of the Sweatshop”

    RI.7.3

Explain how specific factors impacted the garment-making economy in the early 20th century.

5

  • Uprising pp. 7 – 31

    RL.7.6

Explain how the author develops Bella’s point of view and distinguishes it from that of other characters.

6

  • Uprising pp. 32 – 57

    RL.7.5

    RL.7.6

Explain how Uprising is structured and identify the unique perspective of each of the text’s protagonists.

7

  • Uprising pp. 58 – 79

    RL.7.3

Explain how characters’ lives in Uprising are shaped by sexism and gender expectations.

8

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 75 – 84

  • Uprising pp. 80 – 90

    RL.7.9

Identify ways that author Margaret Peterson Haddix has drawn on historical facts to develop the setting and plot of the novel, Uprising.

9

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 84 – 98

    RI.7.3

Explain how specific individuals and ideas shaped the “Uprising of Twenty Thousand.”

10

  • Uprising pp. 91 – 121

    RL.7.6

Identify different characters’ perspectives in Uprising and explain how the author develops and contrasts them.

11

  • Uprising pp. 121 – 144

    RL.7.2

Write objective summaries of several chapters in Uprising.

12

  • Uprising pp. 144 – 165

    RL.7.3

Explain how setting and specific interactions impact characters’ behavior and perspectives in Uprising.

13

  • Uprising pp. 166 – 188

    RL.7.6

Identify different characters’ perspectives in Uprising and explain how the author develops and contrasts them.

14

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 98 – 103 — (beginning at “On January 2, 1910”)

  • Uprising pp. 177 – 183

    RL.7.9

Identify ways that author Margaret Peterson Haddix has drawn on historical facts to develop the plot of the novel, Uprising.

15

  • Uprising pp. 189 – 211

    RL.7.3

    RL.7.6

Explain how Haddix develops characters’ conflicting perspectives and identify events that change the way characters understand the world.

16

  • Uprising pp. 213 – 234

    RL.7.6

Identify different characters’ perspectives in Uprising and explain how the author develops and contrasts them.

17

  • Uprising pp. 235 – 268

    RL.7.2

Provide objective summaries of several chapters in Uprising.

18

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 104 – 110 — (end at “and so it was”)

    RI.7.3

Explain how specific events and ideas shaped fire safety practices in the early 20th century.

19

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 111 – 121

    RI.7.3

Explain the factors that influenced the outcome of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the impact of the fire on bystanders.

20

  • Uprising pp. 269 – 286

    RL.8.6

Explain how the reader’s point of view differs from the characters’ in today’s reading, and the impact of dramatic irony on the reader’s experience of the text.

21

  • Uprising pp. 287 – 298

    RL.7.4

Explain how Haddix uses specific words and phrases to develop meaning, mood, and tone in Uprising.

22

  • Uprising pp. 229 – 315

    RL.7.3

    RL.7.6

Explain how the fire reveals and/or changes the way that characters view the world.

23

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 122 – 130 — (stop before “Never Again”) and page 137

    RI.7.3

    RI.7.6

Explain the impact of the fire on New Yorkers and determine Marrin’s purpose and point of view in a section of Flesh and Blood So Cheap.

24

  • Uprising pp. 316 – 330

    RL.7.6

Explain how Haddix develops and contrasts characters’ perspectives.

25

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap — Chapter V

  • Uprising pp. 269 – 315

    RL.7.9

Compare and contrast Haddix’s account of the Triangle Fire with historical facts and explain how she has used and altered history in Uprising.

26

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 130 – 133 — begin at "Never Again!” and end at “Enter Al Smith"

  • “Speech at The Metropolitan Opera House”

    RI.7.2

    RI.7.4

Determine the central message of Rose Schneiderman’s speech and explain the impact of word choice on meaning and tone.

27

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 130 – 133 — begin at “Never Again!” and end at “Enter Al Smith”

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 139 – 146 — begin at "Reform"

    RI.7.3

Describe the impact of people and events on workers’ rights and labor laws in the United States.

28

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap pp. 153 – 163 — begin at Return of the New York Sweatshop”

    RI.7.3

Explain the factors that led to—and continue to influence—conditions in the modern garment industry.

29

Discussion

  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap

    SL.7.1.b

    SL.7.1.d

Engage in a Socratic Seminar, use previous feedback to set goals and reflect on performance in the seminar, and paraphrase the ideas of peers.

30

Writing

  • “'I am not a robot'”

  • “Amnesty International...”

  • “I Worked at...”

    W.7.1

    W.7.1.b

Translate the expectations of the writing task and organize evidence from research.

31

Writing

  • “'I am not a robot'”

  • “Amnesty International...”

  • “I Worked at...”

    W.7.1

    W.7.1.a

Construct a strong thesis statement and compose effective body paragraphs.

32

Writing

  • “'I am not a robot'”

  • “Amnesty International...”

  • “I Worked at...”

    W.7.1

    W.7.1.c

    W.7.1.d

    W.7.1.e

Elaborate arguments into an introduction and conclusion and revise for clarity, mechanics, and organization.

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2 days

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.7.1.a — Explain the function of phrases and clauses in general and their function in specific sentences.

  • L.7.1.b — Choose among simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences to signal differing relationships among ideas.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.7.2 — Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • RI.7.3 — Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).

  • RI.7.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

  • RI.7.6 — Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author distinguishes his or her position from that of others.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.7.2 — Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • RL.7.3 — Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).

  • RL.7.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.

  • RL.7.5 — Analyze how a drama's or poem's form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.

  • RL.8.6 — Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

  • RL.7.6 — Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.

  • RL.7.9 — Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.7.1.b — Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.

  • SL.7.1.d — Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when warranted, modify their own views.

Writing Standards
  • W.7.1 — Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

  • W.7.1.a — Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

  • W.7.1.b — Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

  • W.7.1.c — Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), reasons, and evidence.

  • W.7.1.d — Establish and maintain a formal style.

  • W.7.1.e — Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

Spiral Standards

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L.7.1

L.7.2

L.7.3

L.7.4.c

L.7.5.a

L.7.5.c

L.7.6

RI.7.1

RI.7.10

RI.7.2

RI.7.4

RI.7.6

RL.7.1

RL.7.10

RL.7.2

RL.7.3

RL.7.4

RL.7.6

RL.7.9

SL.7.1

W.7.10

W.7.4

W.7.5

W.7.7

W.7.8

W.7.9