Title:  Social Movements

Grade Level: 9-12

Subject(s)/CA Standards:  Social Studies 12.2.4, International Relations

Overview:  Many types of social movements have been formed in the countries through which we will travel.  This lesson compares the types, methods, and variable factors that effect movements and their success.

Purpose:  To understand the purpose and outcomes of various social movements.



  1. Internet access for research purposes.
  2. Poster paper and pens.

Activities and Procedures:

  1. Ask students to brainstorm what they think when they hear the words “social movement” - what do they think a social movement is?  What would be its purpose?  What are some examples?  What is the difference between an organization and a movement?
  2. Have students Research social movements, either during class or for homework.
  3. Tell students that social movements can be divided into categories and types; mainly, they are a) Environmentally-focused movements, b) Anti-government, reform-motivated, c) Women's and children's rights, d) Labor/worker-related, e) general Human Rights focused.  Movements may address several of these themes but are generally initiated by one of the five main ideas.  They serve to mobilize people for change and address a widespread problem which effects the lives of many people.
  4. Have students break up into these five categories - they should group themselves according to where they think the group they researched best fits.
  5. Have each group make a poster with the following information:
  6. Groups present to each other and take notes on each others' information.

Tying It Together:

  1. Discuss example social movements and decide what types seem to be more/less successful.  
  2. Think about other examples in history - the Civil Rights movement in the US, the Zapatista movement in Mexico.  Have students choose one particular movement and research/report on its goals, methods, and long-term effects on society.