E-mail contact
Sue Mortensen

Teacher Bio
Teaching the Signature Course in Media at The English High School, Sue Mortensen has been active in the Boston Public Schools for over thirty years. She has applied for and received many grants and is recognized as a Lead Teacher. Supported by a federal grant she co-authored, her students use the latest software and digital equipment. Sue is a member of the The English High School's Teacher Reading Group, Actors' Alliance, and the Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA).

Subject Areas
TV/Film Production, Language Arts

Grade Levels
11 - 12



Stamps of Approval for Women Journalists


Key Question How can high schoolers learn more about American women journalists who have influenced major social change in this nation and the world?

Overview Documenting their field trips to Boston Women's Memorial (BWM) and to Adams National Historical Park, students in a TV/Film production class also examine the written legacies of Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, and Lucy Stone. They research the accomplishments of past and present journalists. They learn why, in 2002, the United States Post Office issued commemorative stamps honoring four women, Ida M. Tarbell, Nelly Bly, Ethel L. Payne, and Marguerite Higgins. Paying tribute to several women writers with their own stamp designs and biographies, the high schoolers investigate careers in journalism and interview local women writers. Come March and Women's History Month, their displays and shared documentaries win stamps of approval from the school community.

Active Exploration + Applied Learning + Adult Connections
Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Videotape student visits to BWM & Adams National Historical Park.
Read about Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley & Lucy Stone for student authored bios.
Research issuance of Women in Journalism commemorative stamps.
Design stamps for contemporary women writers.
Write reflections & create timeline that compare & contrast these women's lives & times.
Edit videos & photos for computer slide shows & screenings during Women's History Month.
Send thank you letters to Presidents' Heritage Foundation, sponsor of Adams visit.
Present oral biographies of BWM figures & women journalists to various classrooms during March Women's History events.
Display related exhibit of commemorative stamps, student designs, writing samples & timeline in school lobby.
Show computer slide show (760 KB) & film documentary to school community.
Learn more about women in public art by reading speech of BWM sculptor Meredith Bergmann.
Research qualifications for a postal stamp designer.
Observe media journalists in action at local TV station
Invite local women journalists & writers for classroom interviews.
Hold panel discussion about careers in journalism & media.

Academic Rigor

Learning Standards English Language Arts
Organize and present ideas in a logical order.
Deliver informal and formal presentations, giving consideration to audience, purpose and content.
Conduct interviews for research projects and writing.
Demonstrate correct use of mechanics, usage, and sentence structure in oral and written responses.
Identify themes and give supporting evidence from a text.
Select appropriate strategies for developing ideas into drafts.
Select appropriate strategies for revising the organization and ideas in drafts.
Identify visual or aural techniques used in a media message for a particular audience.
Create media presentations that effectively use graphics, images, and/or sound to present a distinct point of view on a topic.

School to Career Competencies

Develop Communication and Literacy Skills.
Communicate and understand ideas and information.
Use technology.
Initiate and complete entire activities.
Act professionally.
Take responsibility for career and life choices.


Teacher and students conduct weekly writing workshops to provide feedback on biographical essays and reflections. Timelines, student stamp designs, and computer slide shows are evaluated for accuracy at regularly scheduled teacher/student conferences. Filmed materials are edited and critiqued by production crews under teacher supervision.

Software or Materials Used For technology: digital cameras, digital video cameras, computers, editing software Final Cut Pro and Imovie, Microsoft Office; for literature & curriculum packets: Adams National Historical Park Teacher Materials from People and Places Program: Pen & Parchment; From Penn's Hill Pennsylvania; Making the World Better: The Struggle for Equality in 19th Century America a curriculum packet produced for State House Women's Leadership Project developed by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Tsongas Industrial History Center at the University of Massachusetts/Lowell; The Bostonian Society Resource Guide from Teaching Boston History Workshop: "Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, Phillis Wheatley ~ Patriotism, Poetry and Persistence"; "The Boston Women's Memorial Curriculum Writing for Change: The Power of Women's Words" (contact BWHT for availability and ordering information); Boston Women's Heritage Trail Guidebook.

Teacher Developed Materials Directions for Stamp Designs and Computer Slide Shows, Sample Computer Slide Show (760 KB).

Student Developed Materials Reflections, Biographies, Timeline, Thank you Letters, Videotaped Documentary, Stamp Designs, Biographies, Computer Slide Shows.

Web Sites Boston Discoveries, Elizabeth Jane Cochrane: Nellie Bly ~ Pioneer Woman Investigative Journalist, Ethel L. Payne, Zora Neale Hurston, Marguerite Higgins, Induction of Ida Tarbell into the National Women's Hall of Fame, Positive Teens Magazine, Smithsonian National Postal Museum Curriculum Guides, Washington Press Club Biography of Ethel Payne

Final Words When students celebrate women journalists who dare to dream, they begin to understand how writing fosters social change. These women showed our young adults how words can inspire others to follow their convictions.

Teacher Tip Start with one good idea, and others will flow. As a high school teacher, I look for ways to develop thematic projects. Producing documentaries for calendar events like Women's History Month creates lasting experiences for students who are interested in media careers.

Back to Index Page

Back to CHESP Home Page

CHESP Home Page