Use this lesson, devised for International Women’s Day, with B1+ learners to raise awareness of some not very famous, but nonetheless important, women.  

Image of a woman standing with her arms crossed


The lesson begins by asking students to think of well-known people that they consider to be heroes. It is likely that many of these will be men, so the students then go on to learn about 5 remarkable women in a jigsaw reading activity.

The students discuss these women’s achievements, and learn some useful vocabulary for talking about social issues. There is then a focus on relative clauses, before the final task of writing about another female hero, using the vocabulary and relative clauses where appropriate. For a 50-60 minute class the writing stage could be done at home.

Learning outcomes:

  • Learn about some relatively unknown remarkable women, for International Women’s Day
  • Develop reading and speaking skills through a running dictation
  • Build vocabulary related to social issues
  • Revise relative clauses

Age and level

Aged 13-17 and adults (CEF B1+)


75 minutes. This can be done over two shorter lessons.


The lesson plan and student worksheets can be downloaded in PDF format below. There is a presentation that can be used for a low copy lesson. 

Before the lesson
  • Put the five running dictation texts on the wall so they can be easily accessed by learners in groups (learners will be divided into five groups in stage 3).
Task 1: Lead in (10 minutes)
  • Write the word Heroes on the board or share slide 2.. (Do not mention International Women’s Day at this point) Ask students to write down the names of at least five people they would regard as heroes. Set a time limit of 3 minutes and set a timer.
  • Then ask students to compare their list with a partner and explain why they chose the people they did.
  • Elicit some names and explanations from the class. Then ask how many people on their list were women. If not at least 50% of the names, ask them why not. Discuss as a class. For example, women were/are expected to give up work when they got/get married.
Task 2: Introduction (3 minutes)
  • Write the names of the five women on the worksheet up on the board [Mary Seacole, Mary Anning, Dr Megan Coffee, Irena Sendler, Hilary Lister]. You can also use slide 3.
  • Ask students if they have heard of them. If someone knows quite a lot about one or more of them, ask them not to tell the class just yet.
  • Explain that all these women are ‘unsung heroes’ (or heroines), which means heroes that not many people know about, or make a fuss about.
  • Tell the class that they are going to find out about these women.
Task 3: Running dictation (15 minutes)
  • Divide the class into five groups. Make sure they all have easy access to one of the texts.
  • Explain that one group member is a reader and the others are all writers. The learners can use their notebooks. They must all write.
  • The reader reads the first sentence of the text, memorizes it and tells their group the sentence. The reader may need to go back to read the text a few times, only memorizing a few words at a time.
  • The writers and the reader all copy the sentences into their notebooks.
  • When all group members have written the whole sentence, they give a signal. Eg: putting their hands up or clapping. You can award points for the first group to complete.
  • Ask group members to change roles so there is a new writer for sentence two. Repeat this process until each group has written the whole paragraph.
  • Note: All texts have seven sentences and are of a similar length
  • Tip 1: Make sure that the groups are set up so there is a mixture of abilities to ensure they all complete the task in time.
  • Tip 2: Learners who struggle with memorization or reading activities can remain writers, as they can get support with their texts from the other group members.
  • Tip 3: With younger groups give additional points for fast walking by the reader to avoid learners running around the classroom. You can also award points for quiet working.
  • When groups have completed their paragraph give them the text from the wall to check their grammar and punctuation. Get feedback from each group on how they did.
  • Briefly feedback as a class. Why are these women considered heroes?
Task 4: Cross groups (12 minutes)
  • Make new groups, ensuring that each group has at least one member from each of the original five groups.
  • Students take turns to tell the others in their group about the woman from their text. Encourage learners to use their own words if possible.
  • Briefly feedback as a class. Why are these women considered heroes? Which woman are they most impressed by?
  • This could be the end of lesson 1.
Task 5: Further comprehension work (10minutes)
  • Tell learners that they are going to check how much they remember about the heroic women. Individually ask learners to complete the gaps with the correct name (worksheet 1, exercise 1). You can also display slide 4.
  • They should try to do it from what they heard at the previous stage first, but can go back and read the other texts to check their ideas within their group.
  • Answers: 1. Hilary Lister; 2. Mary Anning; 3. Dr Megan Coffee; 4. Mary Seacole; 5. Mary Anning; 6. Irena Sendler 7. Hilary Lister; 8. Irena Sendler
  • You can show the answers on slide 5.
Task 6: Vocabulary (10 minutes)
  • Tell students they are going to learn some vocabulary to talk about social issues. Point out the words in bold on exercise 1 or slide 5. Tell learners they should read the sentences and note any that are new to them.
  • Individually they match the words in bold with the definitions using either worksheet 1, exercise 2 or slide 6.
  • Answers: A9; B3; C10; D5; E2; F7; G4; H8; I6; J1
Task 7: Speaking – Think, Pair, Share (10 minutes)
  • Show slide 4 again or ask learners to look at their notes. They individually decide for 1- 2 minutes which heroic woman they most admire and why. Put students in pairs to share their ideas and try to agree together which woman they think is the biggest hero for 2 minutes.
  • Then open this out to a class discussion. Encourage students to use the vocabulary from the previous stage where appropriate.
Task 8: Grammar focus – relative clauses (15 minutes)
  • Ask learners to look at worksheet 2 or show slide 7. Elicit from the group the best relative pronoun to use with the first five sentences, giving tips as needed.
  • Learners complete all sentences individually. You can display slide 8. Check together as a whole group or ask learners to refer to their texts for the answers.
  • Answers: 1. Which; 2. Where; 3. Where; 4. Which; 5. Who; 6. Which; 7. Which; 8. Which; 9. Which; 10. Which; 11. Who; 12. Who
  • Ask students to read the rules about defining and non-defining clauses, and check understanding. At this level, this should be revision. Display slide 9 or ask learners to look at worksheet 2, part 3.
  • Ask learners to look at the first five sentences again on worksheet 2 or show slide 10. Students identify which sentences contain defining or non-defining relative clauses.
  • Answers: 1. non-defining; 2. defining; 3.defining; 4. Non-defining; 5. defining
Task 9: Homework (20–30 minutes) OPTIONAL
  • Ask students to either choose a female hero of their own or choose from a list that the teacher provides them with. They should find out about their chosen person and write a short text about her. Remind them to include some of the vocabulary, and to use relative clauses correctly.
  • Ideas for other female heroes: Ada Lovelace; Hedy Lamarr; Mala Zimetbaum; Aphra Behn; Fatima bint Muhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya; Grainne Ni Mhaille; Rita LeviMontalcini; Elizabeth Fry; Marie Curie; Varisa Pongrakhananon; Witri Wahyu Lestar

Contributed by Rachael Roberts

Edited by Suzanne Mordue

Lesson plan201.94 KB
Presentation818.53 KB
Worksheet 1166.27 KB
Worksheet 2133.54 KB
Language Level


Hi Alberto

I have updated the lesson plan to include the answers for the tasks on Worksheet 2. Students can check the answers for the task on Worksheet 3 from the original texts (worksheet 1).

Hope that helps and that you enjoy the lesson.


TE Team

Submitted by laurared on Fri, 03/09/2018 - 15:21

Thank you very much for the lesson plan and worksheets. I could use them in a face-to-face conversation lesson with a 16-year-old who really appreciated it. The adequacy for the time of year is perfect (it was International Women's Day yesterday) but it can also be used in different situations. Very interesting and thought provoking!

Submitted by evi tsafara on Fri, 03/04/2016 - 10:23

Very useful lesson. Thank you indeed!

Submitted by jan beesley on Wed, 03/02/2016 - 12:29

Great resource, thanks, with a good variety of possible uses. Also, though relevant to Women's Day, can obviously be used at any time through the year.

Submitted by Paul Braddock on Wed, 03/02/2016 - 20:19

In reply to by jan beesley

Hi Jan - thank you for the great feedback. We hope you enjoy using the lesson plan. Paul

Research and insight

Browse fascinating case studies, research papers, publications and books by researchers and ELT experts from around the world.

See our publications, research and insight