Education:The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Title of Lesson

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire


10-12; US History II

Time Required for Completed Lesson

1-2 class periods


6.4.12.I.2, 6.4.12.I.10

Core Common State Standards

Grades 9-10

Key Ideas and Details

RH.9-10.2: Determine a central idea or information of a primary source or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

RH.9-10.3. Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas RH.9-10.9. Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.


Whiteboard, projector, PowerPoint, copies of readings, videos

Anticipatory Set

  1. Discussion of the emergence of “new” immigrants to the United States and how these eastern and southern European groups lived and worked in cramped, crowded, and dangerous settings.
  2. Discussion of women’s role in factory work: how young, typically immigrant women worked as cheap laborers for low pay, long hours, and no benefits.
  3. Discussion of the labor movement in the United States: how labor organizers were labeled as Socialist and anti-American.
  4. Short teacher-generated PowerPoint on The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire, and how it helped kick start Progressive reforms in America.


  1. Students will read a New York Times front-page article the day after the fire. Teacher will point out that despite the building being “fireproof”, there were only buckets of water to put out the fire and fire escapes that collapsed when the women tried to use them.
  2. Students will fill in a timeline marking the major moments of the Progressive movement
  3. Students will watch a short video that shows a reenactment of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire: “Story Of Us: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Segment From Episode 7”


  1. Main ideas and supporting details of reading will be highlighted
  2. Varied methods of lesson plan to accommodate different learning abilities.
  3. Small group interaction


  1. Students will break into groups in order to conduct a reenactment of the trial following the fire. Students will be given excerpts from the trial testimony in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, and they will read in front of the class. Students will be assigned particular roles in the trial.
  2. Open-ended question: Thinking about the Progressive reforms following the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, how does the labor movement protect us today?


  1. Literacy skills will be applied throughout the lesson.
  2. Computer skills will be applied.
  3. Artistic and graphic aspects of the lesson will be applied.
  4. Oral and debate skills will be emphasized.


  1. Teacher will lead a class discussion on safety and health codes today, and how they can find their roots in the Progressive era.
  2. Teacher will point out that technology has allowed for safer buildings. There are basic codes that are mandated by the US Department of Labor’s “Occupational Safety and Health Administration” standards, including multiple fire exits, fire sprinklers, and escape routes that are structurally sound. In addition, since 9/11, the government is working to construct fire prevention technologies for structural steel.