| An Inquiry
Unit into the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911
What caused the Triangle Shirtwaist
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
- 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
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).