Elise Regan

"Girl Rising is very powerful because it engages students in empathy, world issues and it empowers them to try to make the world better (I mean isn't that why we become teachers? To make the world better?)"

  • School: Sterling Middle School, Quincy, MA (Public)

  • Grade: 8th

  • Subject: English/Language Arts

  • Number of Students: 80

  • Common Core Standards met: Grade 8 RI 1-7, S&L 1-6

What is your goal in bringing Girl Rising into your classroom?
My goals in bringing GR to my classroom are to:

  1. Show [my students] world issues, as well as compare contrast them to our lives as Americans.

  2. Dialogue with students about how the primary and secondary sources in the documentary and book move us, the audience, to action.

  3. Have students make connections that issues are multifaceted and overlapping especially in regard to gender inequality, government, public health, poverty, education and resources.

I often times want to quit teaching ELA and go into a subject area like art or health that is not tied to state-mandated testing. Girl Rising gives me hope and inspiration that my work in student literacy is a career well spent. Furthermore, it reminds me what I love about my job is when students use creativity, innovation and research to show how amazing and brilliant they are.


How do you use and teach Girl Rising? 
I didn't create anything original, rather modified GR curriculum to meet the needs of my student and district. Last year there was a tremendous push for close reading and so I made sure to incorporate close reading into how I taught Girl Rising especially in regard to the GR book, as well as the TEDTalks and supplemental videos. 

Here is a Google Slide presentation as to how I implemented Girl Rising my second year. It includes both the Girl Rising documentary, GR curriculum (modified by me) and book. 

Which Girl Rising materials did you use?

  • Full Film (All chapters except Yasmin from Egypt)

  • Book

  • Free curriculum

  • Young adult book teacher's guide

  • Content posted on Girl Rising's social media channels

Did you have to get approval before bringing Girl Rising to your classroom?
The first year, I participated in Girl Rising, I didn't seek permission, instead I went ahead with it and filled in the administration about a week into the curriculum. They were thrilled with the project because of how it promotes global citizenship, expands literacy through multiple media forms and uses multimedia conferencing. At first, before getting administrative permission, I did not show the Ethiopia, Afghanistan or Egypt chapters because the content I wasn't sure about sharing in ELA class, since the topics overlap with the Health. I did end up showing the entire documentary after administration was involved and we had students sign permission slips saying it is rated PG13.

Which free curriculum elements did you use?

  • Issue guides (Educating girls, Kamlari, Cultural influences, Child marriage, Human trafficking)

  • Project based lessons (Consumer impact: How our money can make a difference, Display the numbers: Creating public art, What is freedom?, My story)

  • Teacher's guides (Sokha from Cambodia, Wadley from Haiti, Ruksana from India, Suma from Nepal, Senna from Peru, Mariama from Sierra Leone)

Additional Resources Used:


Was there a community action component included as part of the Girl Rising unit?

Yes! We did a community screening that about 100 people attended. Below, is the script that students developed based on the Girl Rising curriculum. Questions were assigned to students from Sterling Middle School and Quincy High School. Also, at the screening, Girl Up Boston had a booth outside and were able to sign people up who wanted to learn more information about how to help. Most of the attendees that asked questions after the viewing were interested in how to help locally or globally.

Here is a copy of the script. 

Additionally, students had to choose a final project that would raise awareness for global issues and share what they learned with the administration, visitors, and people around the school in a living museum. The students wanted to share out more but we ran out of the time.

Here is a video of some of the highlights. Below are examples of the final projects. 

Did your students respond differently to Girl Rising as compared to other classes/units that you teach? If so, how?
Yes, my students responded differently than in the year before. It was interesting and different, the boys were much more outspoken in year two...It was like the project had street credibility from the year before so kids were really excited to start it and excel in it. In the year before, the boys had a harder time seeing their role in GR and needed to talk a lot about gender inequality and a man's identity in the greater world especially in regard to gender inequality, year two there was a lot less of those conversations.

My students had very powerful reactions to Girl Rising including what they learned from the girls in the GR stories and how they have become more involved in the community. Here are some of their comments:

  • "The girls were a real eye opener as to how lucky we are."

  • "School needs to be valued because some more people don’t have the privilege to do so."

  • "I do think about so different after Girl Rising because I’m actually excited to have an education now, having a future and more later on in my life. It made me look at my education differently."

  • "I’ve started tutoring younger students and helping around my school."

  • "I've been helping more in the community. The Girl Rising experience showed me to be more outgoing."

  • "They taught me that I take too much for granted, and that there are things that I should forever be grateful for."

  • "It has changed my point of view on learning and being able to have advantages that other people don't and can't have."

  • "They taught me that I am capable of more than what I believed before I watched the film."

  • "I could've had a life like one of those girls and be working at the age of 12 or be a child-bride at 9. Instead I was blessed with the life I have now."

  • "It taught me to be more kind to others because you never know what they’ve been through."

  • "[The girls] taught me that I have a voice and that I should use it."

Will you recommend Girl Rising to your teacher colleagues? What will you tell them?
I will, and I do. I tell them that it is a lot of work but it is worth it. It is a lot of work because the kids will want to talk about difficult issues and you have to navigate through the harder parts of life, but the curriculum is framed in hope and empowerment so your hard work will pay off!