Triangle Shirtwaist Lesson Plan Menu
Human Rights
An Inquiry Unit into the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911

Essential Question

What caused the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Tragedy?

Connection to Standards

  • Students will become familiar with the large variety of written and visual sources that are available to them to arrive at conclusions.
  • Students will have experiences identifying primary and secondary sources and in determining their reliability by questioning the purpose and perspectives of the authors.
  • Students will understand that there may be different interpretations of the same event depending of the sources being used.
  • Students will understand that present laws are connected to events in the past.

Overview to Teachers

As a high school Social Studies teacher of English Language Learners, I wanted my students to have an inquiry experience using our new computers. The computers would connect students to a wide array of primary source documents – both printed and visual allowing students to become investigators of historical events, not just consumers of a textbook account. However, I was concerned that though many had the technology skills to access materials on the web, their comprehension skills limited their understanding of what they were able to find. Solving that dilemma was the inspiration for this unit.

The Triangle Factory Fire Tragedy is the result of that concern. My goal was to present a lesson using an assortment of sources from online sources: primary, secondary, written, and visual. Students would be able to locate these sources and most importantly, be able to understand them because I have edited the material so that it would be comprehensible for English Language Learners.

The material in this inquiry has been adapted for the reading level of intermediate English Language Learner. Other students with lower reading skills would also benefit from this material.

Though the Instructional Calendar contains a seven-day lesson, several lessons could be eliminated if a shorter time period is needed. I believe the following lessons could be dropped without sacrificing the historical or academic quality of the lesson: Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl (Day 4), Background articles (Day 5), and Blame Shifted On All Sides (Day 6).


Essential Question
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Concluding Assignment
Student Materials

Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit
An Inquiry Unit into the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911

Subject: US History
Grade Level: 11th
Lesson Plan Author:
Miriam Laska