I taught this as a precursor to The Help by Kathryn Stockett, but this assignment can be taught with any novel associated with women's gender roles and expectations in the 1940's - 1950's - early 1960's.
The goal of this assignment is for students to understand the social expectations of women during the 40's, 50's and early 60's.
My students were also facing the difficult task of answering Common Core/ELA-style writing questions, while struggling with reading below grade-level. This assignment poses TWO writing prompts, and then asks students to complete several graphic organizers. The graphic organizers allow them to collect their "text evidence" from the film, to use later in their writing responses.
This film study of Mona Lisa Smile allows struggling readers and writers to (a) analyze the writing prompt given to them, (2) break their thoughts into sections, so responding to the prompt seems less daunting, (3) organize text evidence for later use, and (4) understand the concept of social expectations of women in America during the mid-twentieth century.
SAMPLE ELA Writing Question on this assignment: "Sometimes an author develops a character by contrasting two actions, or by juxtaposing one character's expectations with another character's actions. What do the actions of the Wellesley students suggest about a woman's role in society during this time period? What consequences do the Wellesley administration impose on those characters who do not follow the 1950's domestic traditions?"