Representing Life Stories Using Digital Tools Lesson Plan – Global Feminisms Project

Representing Life Stories Using Digital Tools Lesson Plan

Creator: Marisol Fila
Duration: 3 class periods
Published: Summer 2021


In this lesson, students will analyze activist women’s interviews to identify life events that shaped that person’s identity in order to build a timeline of the person’s life. Students will discuss these events in light of the historical events from the country of origin of the interviewee, as well as the history of women’s rights in that country. In the final assignment, students will use the timeline that they have created to build a digital interactive timeline using the open access tool Timeline JS

Keywords: Storytelling, Life Stories, Digital Methods, History, Timelines
Country sites: China, Nicaragua, Russia, USA

Learning Objectives

  • Use students’ personal past experiences to build their understanding of narrating life stories
  • Analyze primary sources to create a timeline of events of one person’s life
  • Consider the overlap between macro and micro histories
  • Discuss how historical events inform people’s lives
  • Develop research skills by looking into visual materials that can be used for the timeline
  • Reflect on the differences between the written text and an interactive visualization
  • Reflect on the way in which information is presented, organized and shared



Activity One: Reflecting on Life Stories: From Personal Experiences to the Lives of Activist Women
This first activity aims to introduce students to the process of  reflecting on life stories and creating a timeline of relevant life events that shaped one person’s life. The activity starts by drawing from students’ own reflections on their lives and significant events to later considering one activist woman’s life through the analysis of an interview from the Global Feminisms Project. This activity creates the base material for the comparative work that will be done in Activity Two and the applied work that will be completed in the assignment. 

Duration: 50 minutes

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Activity Two: Thinking about Micro and Macro Histories: The Intersections of History and Personal Lives
This second activity builds on the work done in Activity 1 of identifying relevant life events in a person’s narrative. In this activity, students will look at the timeline for each of the countries presented in the interviews available on the Global Feminisms Project website. By discussing the overlaps between the history of the country and women’s rights, this activity asks students to consider the relationship between macro and micro histories and how history informs people’s lives. Students will end the activity by considering how the overlapping events can be integrated into the draft of the timeline that they created in Activity 1. This is the material that they will be working with to create their own interactive timelines during the assignment.
Duration: 50 minutes

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Assessment: Creating your own Timeline JS
This assignment asks students to create their own interactive timelines based on the draft that they have produced during Activity 1 and 2. They will be using the open access tool Timeline JS. Before students start with the hands-on work, the instructor will introduce Timeline JS and the process of creating a timeline using the training presentation that is provided in this packet. Once students create their timelines, they will be asked to reflect on the unique features of the visualization that they have just created and how the narrative differs from the one presented in the interview. Students will develop hands-on skills and consider ways to transform narratives into a set of sequenced events that combine people’s individual lives with historical events. Students will be sharing their timelines and reflections with the entire class once the assignment is completed.

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Alternative interviews that can be used for the lesson plan

Below there is a list of alternative interviews that can be used for the lesson plan. Each of them offers a good description of the interviewee’s life events.

Neera Desai

Barbara Labuda

United States
Rabab Abdulhadi

Diane Martinez

Heidi Meinzolt-Depner

Maria Teles

Yemisi Ransome-Kuti

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