La voz y la vida: Literacy and Identity in Young Latino Immigrant Students

byPaulina A. Salvador


Recent immigration from Mexico and Central America has profoundly changed the cultural landscape of the United States. My fifth grade bilingual classroom is a microcosm of the Latino immigrant community residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My students represent the social, political, economic and educational needs of this burgeoning Latino immigrant community which is largely concentrated in one area of the city. This nine-week curricular unit explores best practices for literacy development, incorporating progressive teaching strategies for English language learners. It also aims to create a learning environment that is challenging and culturally inclusive. Throughout the teaching-learning process students will have several opportunities to interact with literature and reflect on their ethnic and bicultural identities. Memoirs, narratives, poetry, and oral histories of immigrant Latinos are incorporated to reveal the parallels that the students may find with their own experiences. Students will also consider the history of immigration, in general, and of Latinos in the United States. As culminating writing activities, students will write an oral history of a recent immigrant whom they know well. Using the oral history as a primary source, they will create an illustrated third person memoir picture book.


Last year I gained insight into how to use literature to inspire students to make connections to their experiences and identities. I saw how literature that mirrors students' lives is transformative and can empower them to create a unique piece of writing that reflects their cultural knowledge and understanding of current events and the world around them.

This experience can be told through the story of one my students. Manira was always prepared, never absent, highly motivated, and extremely focused on her studies - she was a teacher's dream. One day in class, we read and discussed the poem "The Journey That We Are" by Luis Ambroggio. (1) That evening, the students were assigned to reread the poem and write a connection to the poem. Manira came to school the next day with a thoughtfully written response to the poem. She had related it to her own experience of crossing the border with her mom and dad. In her response, she described what her mom had told her. She described how a man had to carry her on his shoulders because she was too young to walk for so long. She said that they did not know this man - he was a stranger. Later in the school day, Manira came up to me and talked more about her experience. She shared how she missed her family in Mexico and was sad that she can't ever go back to see her grandparents. Her written response and what we talked about later gave me insight into who she was - a perseverant and determined young girl.

Over the weekend ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers conducted raids (Operation "Return to Sender" - the same events occurred all across the United States in several cities) in Santa Fe and swept through the apartment complex near the school, where most of my students live. Manira didn't come to school for a week. Her parents were afraid to go to work, leave the house or send their kids to school. When she returned to school, I could tell this really upset her, like many of the other students.

A few weeks later, I directed the students to write a story about their first grade reading buddies (a collaborative project between two bilingual classes to increase literacy skills in both languages, enjoyment in reading, cooperative learning and sense of community in the school). They were directed to creatively imagine and write of their reading buddy as a superhero who does a good deed for others. Prior to the assignment, I read the picture book Super Cilantro Girl/La superniña del cilantro by Juan Felipe Herrera. The main character is Esmeralda Sinfronteras, who is transformed into a superhero (and the color green of cilantro) and flies off to rescue her mother, who had gone to visit Mexico and is not being permitted to return to the United States. Manira's story quickly arrived on my desk. She had crafted a story that transformed her reading buddy into a heroine who could fly and carry families back and forth from Mexico to the U.S. She had adapted her story to fit with what she identified in her life. She had found her voice and responded to the needs of her family and community. How clever!

This unit also originates with my life's journey to uncover my identity as a Latina, an immigrant, and a person who is bilingual, biliterate and bicultural. My students and I have a common shared experience of immigrating to the United States. As a young child brought to a Midwestern state by my Ecuadorian parents, I would have benefited greatly from reading and interacting with bilingual children's literature. Literature that reflected the Latino experience was not a part of my educational experience. I felt invisible in the classroom at every level in my education. As I began my professional endeavors, I increasingly sought to uncover the many layers of my overlapping cultural and linguistic identities. Even though my identifications with language, family and Latinos were powerfully present, I was not clear how they related to my sense of place as an immigrant. Was I more a child of this country who spoke English and loved to eat pizza, or was I more connected to my distant ancestral patria, the homeland of my parents? Or was I somewhere in between, holding identities that were without a distinct separation?

Personal, educational and professional experiences related to Latinos were significant in forming my identity as a Latina. The multicultural literature and art I was exposed to later in life resonated with my experiences growing up in the United States. Finally, I had discovered authors and artists who recreated worlds, conjured images and used a language that mirrored what was familiar to me! As my identity solidified, my desire to empower other Latinas/os increased. It became apparent that if I wanted to empower others, I would need to position myself in the arena of education - where life-changing experiences take root in the individual. This quest is what propelled me to live in the Southwest and become a teacher at the elementary school level. These powerful forces inspired me to be an agent of social justice - an educator of immigrant Latinos and to teach in bilingual education. I am confident that my strength as a teacher derives fully from my self-awareness of who I am. I am empowered to use my "voice" to teach.

My school is one of the largest public neighborhood elementary schools, located on the south side in Santa Fe with close to 550 students in grades kindergarten through sixth. My school was built five years ago to accommodate this fast-growing sector of the community, mainly of recent immigrants and new residents. According to the 2000 U.S. Census Data for Santa Fe, Latinos comprise almost half (47%) of the city's general population (62,203). (2) Close to 90 percent of the school population is Latino and over 80 percent of the students are from low income families. Typically, at least three-fourths of the students in my classroom are recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The remaining represents immigrant families who have lived in the United States for a longer period of time and who may have been born in the United States. Spanish is the native language spoken in the homes of my students. Their range of language proficiency and skills in English and Spanish is extremely wide. Roughly one third of the students are monolingual Spanish speaking, and another one third are fluent English and Spanish speakers but have limited ability to read or write in either language. From a language development perspective, this range of language skills presents an incredible instructional challenge. Vilma Ortiz cites in the article "Language Background and Literacy among Hispanic Young Adults" that among Hispanics, the foreign-born generally have a much lower level of literacy than do native-born Hispanics. (3) This dynamic is overwhelmingly present in my classroom and presents a huge obstacle in the teaching-learning process. As I consider the content area standards I am required to teach, and the proficiency levels students are expected to demonstrate when they participate in the standards-based testing in the spring, I am overwhelmed. How do I attend to the tasks of raising their literacy levels coupled with the academic, cultural/social, and emotional needs of my students?

This integrated unit of study in social studies and language arts is my response to the above questions. In this curricular unit plan I hope to address the academic and language development needs of Latino immigrant students, while affirming who they are and what they bring to school - their cultural, linguistic, family and personal values and identities. How I view their personal, cultural, linguistic and educational fronteras - borderlands is reflected in my selection of instructional materials and the planning of a culturally inclusive curriculum in language arts and social studies.


Literacy and identity development is at the center of this unit. The planned activities are designed to promote students to evaluate the ethnic identity of young Latino immigrants and their own while they read and respond to culturally authentic literature, curricular texts related to immigration in the United States, and other media. This will facilitate a deeper understanding of the social studies topics. It is important to me to integrate a language arts and social studies curriculum that is inclusive of their cultural, linguistic and historical background. The following describes the essential learning goals and the core elements/themes of the unit plan.


I want students to recreate their understanding of self, the literary world and the global society. To achieve this, I will model literary connections for my students and prompt them to make connections during reading activities. To make a connection to the reading, a student must think about what they have read, and consider how it applies to their personal experience (text-to-self), another book or something they have read (text-to-text), or any information that relates to the world (text-to-world). As the school year progresses we collectively join texts to our personal experiences, to other texts, and to the world. Once they are confident in this approach to literature, the students are able to articulate their connections independently. By becoming better able to critically analyze information, they can continue to broaden their perspectives and understanding in the hope that they might persist in an academic setting like high school and college.

Culturally Authentic Literature

I want students to read culturally authentic literature in order to prompt them to think about their own lives. The literature will serve as a tool for examining narrative writing, and for reflecting on their personal experiences and who they are as young Latino immigrants or the children of immigrants. In "Living to Tell the Story: The Authentic Latino Immigrant Experience in Picture Books," René Colato Laínez elaborates on how Latino authors can effectively provide authentic models of the acculturation process for immigrant children. She writes that Latino authors use their experiences of being uprooted from their country of origin, being transplanted to the United States and their adaptation to a new culture in order to authentically and realistically portray the immigrant experience. She also encourages authors to write an acculturation story, a story where the protagonist becomes part of the mainstream culture without discarding their language and culture. "These Latino authors validate the children's identity - their names, language, roots and culture." (4) I want to include excellent representations of the acculturation process by selecting authentic literature that demonstrates the complexities of growing-up Latino and being bicultural. Naturally, this will enable my students to make meaningful connections, and support the formation of a strong, healthy ethnic and bicultural identity in Latino immigrant students.

In researching for this unit, I easily found several anthologies of bilingual literature focused on the Latino experience of young adults through college-aged students, and address significant issues that affect Latinos. Many of these anthologies represent a larger presence Latinos have in contemporary young adult literature. Some of the more recently published anthologies are included in the Resources lists.

Ethnic Identity, Bicultural Identity, and Acculturation

I want my students to reflect on their cultural and ethnic identities. I want to present several opportunities to view and reflect on literature, music and other audio/visual media. Within these varied learning experiences, they will be exposed to others' experiences and ideas. Students will identify their own cultural/ethnic heritage and consider how Latino communities have adapted to the larger society. They may answer questions such as, "What traditions, values and belief systems have Latinos carried over (maintained) to daily life in the United States?" "How was this achieved?" "Consider yourself and your family, what have you kept and what has changed in your family since emigrating from Mexico or Central America?"

In my research, I found how defining one's ethnic identity can be effective in teaching young immigrant Latinos and equipping them to interact positively with the larger society. In Diversity Pedagogy: Examining the Role of Culture in the Teaching Learning Process, Rosa Hernández Sheets' upholds the relationship between culture and cognition as central to the teaching-learning process. She illustrates this by defining the ways teachers' and students' behavior influences the co-construction of knowledge. (5) One of the dimensional elements of "Diversity Pedagogy" is identity, how students define who they are and the group to which they belong. Through a distinctive ethnic socialization process, children form and develop an ethnic identity. During the middle childhood years, children have the ability to understand how their ethnic identity plays a role in their lives. Children at this age begin to internalize societal attitudes regarding their ethnic group and to form their own identity by what they learn from school experiences, their peers and the media. The impact ethnic identity can have on student learning is significant. Five outcomes of this personal and group dimension of self are: 1) promotes cognitive strengths and social competencies valued at home and in their community; 2) shapes how they view themselves ethnically; 3) affects how they respond to their ethnic group; 4) directs how students interact with others; and 5) influences access to academic and social opportunities. (6) Furthermore, if children adopt a bicultural identity, children develop competence to function in both cultures. Immigrant children acculturate and become part of the mainstream culture without discarding past meaningful traditions and values. (7)

College-Going Identity

I want to provide opportunities for my students to view how it is possible for immigrant Latinos to attend college. According to UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center's 2006 report, "Falling through the Cracks: Critical Transitions in the Latina/o Educational Pipeline" one of the recommended steps for improving the educational outlook for Latinos is to provide opportunities to develop a multicultural, college-going identity. Specifically, students should be encouraged to view the college-going experience as central to their academic identity.(8) After reading this report, I considered how I could better assist my students to form an academic identity that includes going to college. I found literature (fiction and nonfiction) that places Latinos in the context of a university or college. I think it is very important that I keep this in the forefront of my thinking as I develop units of study in the future as well.

School-Home Connection

I want my students to connect their school experiences with their home lives in new and meaningful ways. I want to include opportunities to connect Latino homes and public schools. Even though the language used and cultural norms may be distinctly different in traditional classrooms, the use of culturally authentic literature and the incorporation of activities can bridge home and school settings in new and meaningful ways. In Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodríguez (Aria, I) Rodríguez describes how he learned to separate his cultural and language identity from what was public (in school and in the community) and what was private (home, personal). He seems to long for more continuity between his school and home environments but believes that his private and public languages and culture/heritage should not overlap (cultural discontinuity) (9). The importance for immigrant students to have their cultural identities present in both home and school settings is clear. In order to adequately foster the formation of their cognitive and personal identities, students must recognize that an equal value is placed on each cultural setting.

A Sense of Place for the Latino Immigrant

I want to show students that identities are complicated, and that there are many people in American society who believe that they straddle the line between the United States and Mexico. In an effort to learn more about how I could frame my thinking about the mixed identity of a Latino immigrant, I read A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki. He refers to what Gloria Anzaldúa celebrated as a "borderland" - a place where "two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory. . . Chicano, indio, American Indian, mojado, Mexicano, immigrant Latino, Anglo in power, working class Anglo, Black, Asian - our psyches resemble the bordertowns and are populated by the same people."(10) Even though my school is not as diverse as many urban, public schools in the United States, I want to empower my students to value what sets them apart from others and to embrace the common experiences, identities and values they have with others at school. How can this be applied to my teaching? As I read further, I connect my practice to what Takaki writes "to become visible is to see ourselves and each other in a different mirror of history. . .. By viewing ourselves in a mirror which reflects reality, we can see our past as undistorted... Our denied history 'bursts with telling."(11) I would like to cultivate my students' sense of identity rooted in the immigrant Latino experience. Through the learning activities in this unit, students will compare their personal history with that of others, and identify the importance they, as a minority community, hold relative to our nation's history. I would like to harvest their bilingual voices of strength, courage and hope as they reflect on who they are, from where they came, and write the oral histories and memoirs that anchor their sense of place and pride.

Mexican Immigration to the United States

I want my students to understand some basic facts about Mexican immigration to the United States. I also want my students to consider questions specific to Santa Fe like "Why did people come here?" "How do our experiences here compare to others elsewhere?" In addition, I want students to reflect on why people emigrate from the place that holds their ancestral chants, cultural rhythms, and the birthplace of their ideas and identities? My own understanding of this subject has been enriched by reading Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, Rubén Martínez's compelling account of a Mexican family that crosses la frontera. The prologue is entitled The Passion. This title is indicative of how the book immediately illuminates the humanity and deep passion in the migration of a family crossing over to another language, culture and way of being. Martínez eloquently describes why Mexicans have migrated to this country. It is in this combination of prose and relevant information on the place, history and significance of the immigration of millions to the United States that propels me forward to find supplemental texts, oral histories, visual references and timelines to strengthen my understanding of this topic. I would like my students to consider how our present government decides what is best for our country in regards to Immigration Reform - what decisions are based on economic and political gain? Or which alternatives are based on equality, justice, and respect for humanity? How do these decisions affect Latino immigrants? How do they affect the future for you and your family?


I approach teaching literacy by first establishing a foundation of understanding. This begins with their funds of knowledge from their homes and prior experiences, and expands with what is gathered from texts, literature, and other sources of information. As we go along, our understanding of central themes, main topics and important information is analyzed, synthesized, and charted. Discussing important themes, debating central topics, and transforming knowledge are central activities in the teaching-learning process.

My school district requires teachers to implement specific instructional strategies for teaching reading and writing. The Foundation for California Extended Literacy Learning (Exll) framework is adapted for the upper grades at the elementary level and targets the needs of struggling readers and writers. They are best practices for the integration of content area and language arts curriculum. The following activities follow a design that begins with the teacher as the model and facilitator. As the reading and writing activities progress, there's a gradual release of responsibility from the teacher to support the student to become an independent reader and writer who is able to interpret and critically analyze information.

In addition to the Exll framework to deliver instruction, my school is mandated by the state department of education to follow the America's Choice curriculum for writing (Writers Advantage) for not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as prescribed by No Child Left Behind. Each writing project is aligned to language arts and social studies standards, benchmarks for fifth grade. I will incorporate the writing rubrics and supplementary activities in Writers Advantage in preparation for the writing activities. The rubric for writing a picture memoir will serve as a tool to assess and evaluate the student writing in a fair and objective way. Class time will be devoted to reading, analyzing and using the rubric so that it can be a tool used by the students to self- and peer-evaluate the final written product.

Foundational Literacy Learning Activities

The following descriptions will highlight how I plan to incorporate the Exll framework into my curricular unit. Joined to the description of each element in the framework are suggestions for literature and other extensions for learning activities which incorporate multiple intelligences and strategies for language and identity development.

Read Aloud

I am thrilled that I have found culturally authentic literature that represents the experiences of Latino immigrant children, young adults and families. I plan to use a number of picture books, narratives, and poetry when I read aloud to the students. Read aloud occurs daily and is an anchor in my two- hour literacy block. During this time, the students are seated comfortably on the floor as I read to them. While I am reading I am modeling what a good reader does (previews the text and illustrations, makes predictions, asks questions, clarifies, identifies the topics or themes of what is being read, and makes connections). I also try to structure discussions about the book (vocabulary, characters, personal experiences, writing style, etc.). This gives them an opportunity to view how to analyze what was read. These initial reading activities are supportive in nature, encouraging students to identify and use key vocabulary, compare and contrast the content of the book, and formulate their own understanding. Immediately following this activity, students independently write in their Reading Response Logs to reflect on what they have heard and discussed. I allow my students to write in either English or Spanish, in the language they feel most comfortable to write and express their ideas.

To provide some examples of what books I plan to use during read aloud, I will highlight three books published by Children's Book Press. These books present sensitive and accurate portrayals of the stages of uprooting for young Latino immigrants. They are beautifully illustrated, written in English and Spanish by Latino authors, and will engage students to reflect on their experiences and bicultural identities in several different ways.

In My Diary from Here to There/Mi diario de aquí hasta allá, Amanda Irma Pérez writes about her own journey as a girl crossing the border with the help of her family. In her diary Amanda records her fears, hopes, and dreams for their lives in the United States. At the end of the story, Amanda has acculturated to life in the U.S. Amanda writes, "Just because I'm away from Juárez and Michi, it does not mean they're not with me. They are here in your pages and in the language that I speak; and they are in my memory and my heart. Papá was right. I am stronger than I think - in Mexico, in the States anywhere." This is an authentic immigrant story. Many immigrant children can relate to her feelings about leaving her country and being separated from her father.

A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada is a collection of 21 poems written by Jorge Argueta. In these poems Jorge Argueta describes what life was like for him in his native country of El Salvador, his experiences of being an immigrant, and his delight in living in San Francisco's Mission District. The poem "When We Left El Salvador" will touch the heart of immigrant children from countries in war. Toward the end of the book, Jorge reunites with his family and acculturates. Along with reading these poems I will familiarize my students to some facts about El Salvador: an estimated 500,000 Salvadorans immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980's because of civil war. I have a photographic book, El Salvador that presents a map of El Salvador, its history of civil war, and several photographs of children in the war-torn country. I will present the map to the students, and select an image/ images and direct the students to write a reflection on what they see in the photograph. They can also imagine a story using what they see in the photograph as clues to write from the child's perspective (in first person).

The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza is Juan Felipe Herrera's memoir of the year his migrant family moved to the city so that he could go to school for the first time. Juanito is not an immigrant himself but his parents are. When he enters school he only speaks Spanish. After adjusting to school, learning new routines, getting to know his teachers, and speaking in English, he doesn't feel so shy and so "upside down."

During or after read aloud when students make connections, use post-it notes to capture the connections students make. Later, when students read the book during independent reading, they can read the connections that were made by their peers. This instructional strategy explicitly demonstrates how to interact with the text and models how to use post-it notes during independent reading (a reading strategy I want them to adopt). Another tie-in would be to present the stages of uprooting to students and direct them to identify the stages the characters are in and why (search for clues). They could also reflect on the stages of uprooting they have gone through (if they are immigrants to the U.S.) or someone they know, and share with the class in a discussion.

Shared Reading

During shared reading activities, the students and I read out loud a piece of text. Again, I model good reading behaviors and provide a guided discussion of what is being read. This type of reading gives support to those students who are not yet at grade level and helps build fluency. Fiction and non-fiction literature can be utilized in this activity to help build vocabulary and conceptual understanding. Some of the literature is in Spanish to create an inclusive learning community. I predict that my Spanish monolingual students will have powerful connections to share with the class.

After they read fictional literature such as short narratives and poetry, students will have opportunities for reflection and analysis. Some questions that could follow the reading are: How is this author's experience or ideas like yours, or different from yours? How do you feel about living in the United States? Why did people come here? Why did your family immigrate to Santa Fe? Shared reading activities also offer support in reading non-fiction texts/ literature. I plan to use informational texts that present American history through the lens of immigration.

Guided Reading

During Guided Reading, I work with small groups of students who are similar in their development of the reading process and are able to read about the same level of text in either Spanish or English, depending on the group and the text. I give varying degrees of support to the readers. Within each group, each child reads the selected portion of the text. This activity is intended to provide students the support they need so that they can accelerate to reading independently.

Independent Reading

During independent reading, students are reading independently for approximately twenty-five minutes (per session) while I am conferencing (concerning reading skills and strategies) with students one-on-one. I plan to create a reading corner which will display the books we have/ will read in this unit. From a few of the books, I may just read excerpts as a read aloud or in shared reading. This reading activity offers students an opportunity to read more of the book or poetry that interests them personally. Students will select a book from the reading corner and read independently each day during the course of the nine weeks. Immediately following Independent Reading, students will write in their Reading Response Logs (refer to Independent Writing activities).

Directed Writing

This element includes Interactive Editing and Interactive Writing. I share and participate in the writing process with students, modeling and providing support as needed. During this time I may also teach specific skills and strategies based upon observations of students during Independent Writing (grammar, punctuation, capitalization, subject-predicate agreement, spelling, etc.).

To compliment the shared reading activities, extend their comprehension, and strengthen their language skills, students will be engaged in Interactive Editing. During this activity, students read a selected text (shared reading) and identify the important words. These words are highlighted and added to a word bank. After the entire text has been read and all the words are identified, we rewrite the text (Interactive Writing) to produce a summary written in their own words. I will utilize Interactive Writing to provide models on how to respond to texts and literature that is read and how to synthesize information. The students and I "share the pen" during Interactive Writing. Together the class completes some type of writing (usually on large chart paper). I use this time to teach writing concepts. The goal behind Interactive Writing is that the students will use skills they learn during this activity and apply them in their Independent Writing. This is when I also encourage the students to "resource the room" - which means use all the clues in the room to help them find words with which they are having trouble writing.

Independent Writing

The Oral History and an Illustrated Third Person Memoir projects are independent writing projects. Students write on their own, follow the Writing Process, using the room as a resource. I do not usually provide too much assistance during this time. This is the students' time to show the strategies and skills they have acquired through Interactive Writing. Students also write in their Reading Response Logs as a daily Independent Writing activity. After students have read independently, they write a summary (using strategies in Interactive Editing) of what they have read and make connections to the reading. This is used as an assessment tool to gauge students' reading comprehension, and to evaluate their writing and analysis skills.

Oral Presentation

This element gives students an opportunity to present information by themselves or as a group to an audience. Throughout this unit, students will orally present their adapted poems, participate in Reader's Theater, and present the Oral Histories and Memoirs. I plan to organize an activity for peer-evaluation of these projects. Their peers will evaluate their oral presentation skills following a rubric for oral presentations. This element provides students an opportunity to strengthen their language development overall.

Classroom Activities

There are several writing activities in this unit that require students to compile information, analyze their purpose in writing, and to create authentic written products. Students will read and respond to literature, reflecting on their own experiences as a Latino immigrant or child of immigrants. The culminating activity will be to produce and orally present a third person memoir based on an oral history, and a collection of information, photographs, maps and images to reflect the immigration experience of a family member or close acquaintance. This unit will be best suited for the spring when students can apply their language skills and their critical and analytical skills.

Poetry in the Classroom

I visualize the use of poetry as the fountain from which students' ideas, values and understanding spill out. I am excited at the potential that through the reading of poetry related to the immigrant experience, students will look at their reflections in the pool of thought to discover their personal identities and sense of place.

My teaching goals in this five day lesson plan are: 1) to model what a good reader does, such as think aloud, clarify, make connections, identify important words and topic/themes, etc.; 2) to provide support to English Language Learners by modeling reading and writing, provide opportunities for language/vocabulary development, the use of graphic organizers, scaffold lesson objectives, etc.; 3) to present opportunities for literary, personal and home-school connections; and 4) to integrate social studies curriculum and technology.

Student learning goals are: 1) to read the poetry and make connections to self and the world; 2) to identify and write parts of speech and grammar correctly; 3) to reflect on the meaning of the poem and create their own, using the poem as a model; 4) to work cooperatively, and 5) actively participate and orally present their rendered poems. These learning goals meet New Mexico language arts standards and benchmarks for fifth grade (Appendix A).

The poem I have selected is "University Avenue" by Pat Mora(12). I have organized several reading and writing classroom activities to develop the ethnic identity and college-going identity. This approach enables students to view and reflect on literature in multiple ways, considering how poetry can connect to their lives and experiences.

Day One: Focus activity

As a way to engage students and set the stage for the poem, I will show a short film clip from "Escuela" (found on chapter 4 of "New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina"). In this film clip, Liliana Luis, a young nine-year old daughter of a migrant worker family living in California talks about going to high school. After viewing this film clip, discuss with students if they think Liliana will go to college. Why or why not?

Think-Pair-Share: To begin the activity, direct students to think about a quick response to the following open-ended question, "What do you know about college?" Preface this question by indicating that they will create a word web graphic organizer with the word "college" in the center of the web. Students have three to five minutes to come-up with as many one-word associations they have with college and write them on a piece of paper. After creating their word web, students share one of their associations with a partner and explain why they wrote that word. Once each person has shared what they wrote with the other, students have the opportunity to share with the class one of the associations they discussed.

Interactive Writing: As one student in the pair orally presents one of their associations with the class, the other student will write the one-word association in the word web that is drawn on large chart paper and posted in front of the class. Once each pair has contributed to the word web, the students check for correct spelling, grammar, etc.

Next, I will initiate a class discussion on the topic of college. The purpose of this activity is to encourage the students to explore the relationship they have with the topic and to encourage them to orally present their ideas to the class. These activities on this first day will also provide an excellent opportunity to observe students' ideas, values and preconceptions related to topic of attending college.

Day Two: Reading

The poem, "University Avenue" places Latinos in a university setting. This fulfills one of the goals to offer students opportunities to develop a college-going identity. The next two days emphasize the development of ethnic and college-going identities.

Shared Reading: Project the poem on an overhead and read the poem together. Ask students to identify important words and discuss any vocabulary they may not understand. Class discussion: Initiate a discussion after reading the poem. Ask students to identify the subject of the poem. The poem joins the reader and the university student by using "We/ Our people" as the subject of the poem. Essentially, the reader (student) and the university student are united by the experience of going to college and their common heritage/ ancestors. Next, I will direct students to reread the first two lines of the poem, "We are the first/ of our people to walk this path." and last two lines of the poem, "We do not travel alone./ Our people burn deep within us," This could be the backdrop for a class discussion on how we are still connected to our heritage, language, traditions and culture even though we move from one place to another, into unfamiliar places. Immigrants or children of immigrants should be able to relate to this. Finally, I will ask students to identify what was given by the ancestors in the poem. Possible answers are found in the text and italicized in Spanish: gifts from the land; fire, herbs, and song; Yerbabuena (Spearmint); rhythms (music); abrazos (embraces, hugs); cuentos en Español (stories in Spanish). I would ask the students from where these "gifts" come. Possible answers could be traditions, cultural beliefs/ customs, and the Spanish language.

School-home connection: As a homework assignment, students will be asked to talk to their parents and reflect on what their ancestors have given them and their family, as they now live in a place away from where their ancestors lived.

Day Four: Reflection

The following day will offer students a time to reflect and internalize what it would mean to them to go to college. To provide a model of what the students will be asked to write, I will pass around my graduation cap and tassel. I will also show a photograph taken of me when I graduated from college, and ask them if they know where I am and what is happening in the picture. After they discover where, when and what the event was, I will tell them how I felt so much pride and how thankful I was that my family and grandparents were there to see me graduate.

Modeling of Writing Activity: To transition them to the writing activity, I will read/ model my written response to the following question [written on the board]: What did your people (ancestors) give you so that you were successful and graduated from college? My written and verbal response will begin with "Our people prepared us/ with. . . a second language, pride, and family stories." Then I will read the last two lines of Mora's poem that will conclude their poem and is written on the board.

Independent Writing: Students will receive an activity sheet. Students will react to the issue of being the first in their family to go to college. Students will respond to the writing prompt on the top of the activity sheet: Imagine yourself in college and you are the first person in your family to go to college. What did your people (ancestors) give you so that you were successful and graduated from college? Compose a poem using the middle two lines of the poem, "Our people prepare us/ with __________." The last two lines of Mora's poem that will conclude their poem. I will let the students know that they will orally present what they have written.

Day Five: Oral Presentation

Oral Presentation: Students will reread and self-evaluate what they have written using a writing rubric. Students will have time to practice saying aloud what they wrote with a partner and then sit in a circle. This will be the time that I will check what they have written and scaffold the lesson to assist the students who need help rewriting or reading aloud what they have written. Once students are ready and sitting in the circle, they will take turns reading their poem. After each student has read their two lines, as a chorus, we will read the last two lines of Mora's poem. This rendering of the original poem will affect meaning and purpose to the poem and theme.

Assessment: The assessment will be ongoing. Students will be evaluated on how well they follow directions (listening); their fluency in reading during shared reading and in their oral presentation (reading); their participation and cooperation during the Interactive Writing activity (speaking); and their level of reflection in their writing (writing).

Social Studies Extension: Discuss the Dream Act, which has been under consideration in government. Students could analyze data on how many Hispanics graduate from high school, college and graduate school (see UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center's 2006 report, "Falling through the Cracks: Critical Transitions in the Latina/o Educational Pipeline"). Students could evaluate how the Dream Act could potentially impact their immediate futures and provide opportunities for higher education. There are film clips on the "New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina" which can present this issue to students.

Oral History Project

My students will record and write their own first-person oral history project with a family member or close acquaintance who immigrated to the U.S. I will encourage them in the second week of the unit to begin to choose their subject for their oral history. As needed, I will work with the parents to help students to find a person to interview. The actual interviewing will be an out-of-class homework assignment. Students will follow the Writing Process to complete this project by the third week of the unit. The fourth week of this project will be used to orally present their oral histories to the class. Specific ideas for creating their oral histories will be discussed immediately following their presentations. Please note that this lesson plan of classroom activities is written more as an overview of what activities should take place over the course of several weeks.

Preparation: To facilitate the work of this project and others in the unit, I will send a letter to the parents prior to the execution of the unit to inform them of the project schedule and details for each. I will also request that they communicate and inform me of any concerns or questions throughout the nine weeks. It may be helpful to invite parents to an informational meeting before we begin the unit to present the schedule of activities and details, and to strengthen the partnership between the parents, students and I. To accommodate those students who are having difficulty completing the project, I will encourage them to work collaboratively with another student. Also, to accommodate my monolingual Spanish-speaking students, I will provide individual or small-group instruction during their independent writing time.

Week One

Shared Reading: Students will read various examples of oral history writing. There are examples of immigration oral histories online. The PBS website "The New Americans," has an oral history of an immigrant from Mexico. (13) Also, oral histories of Mexican immigrants are in Marilyn Davis' book Mexican Voices/American Dreams: An Oral History of Mexican Immigration to the United States. Class discussions: After shared reading, I will facilitate a discussion to anchor their understanding of the purpose of oral histories. Some leading questions I will ask: "How do you think the person who wrote this knew these details about this person's experience immigrating to the U.S.?" I will try to direct student responses to conclude that questions were asked. "What questions do you think they were asked?" I will list student responses on chart paper and review them in a later Interactive Writing activity when we are adapting questions for the interviews. "What is an oral history?" I may offer a simple definition: it is the personal story of a person's life. "Why are oral histories valuable to historians?" Oral histories pass on information and knowledge about a person's or group of people's experience - a record of history. Cultures have used them - oral tradition. I will follow this discussion by creating a KWL graphic organizer on oral histories on large chart paper.

Guided Reading: Students will read selections found in Newcomers in America: Stories of Today's Young Immigrants. This book provides voices of young immigrants through candid interviews and conversations based on their experiences adapting to a new life, culture, and language in the United States. Three of the people highlighted in the book, Enrique (Mexico), Carlos (Mexico) and Erika (Ecuador) are representatives of young immigrants from Latin America with whom Latino students could identify. Students will read the questions that are at the beginning of each chapter and read each young person's response. They will chart the characteristics of each person (what they like or dislike, their country of origin, how did they come to the U.S., etc.) after reading the passages. A graphic organizer will be utilized to identify and categorize what characteristics are similar and different among the three individuals. Students will write the characteristics that are different inside each of the three outlines of a person. The characteristics that are similar will be included inside an object like an umbrella, rainbow, cloud or flag drawn over the heads of the three people. In the second week, students will continue adding characteristics to create a profile of that person.

Independent Reading: Students will be invited to read oral histories. Following their reading of oral histories, students will write in their Reading Response Journals a brief description of the person they read (refer to Interactive Writing) and list the questions interviewers probably asked and what other questions they think would be helpful. This activity will continue in the second week.

Interactive Writing: Students will brainstorm and create a web of how they will find a person to interview (through their family, friends, neighbors, at church, etc.) I will indicate that they need to begin to find a person to interview (this may take several days). I will direct students (and provide a letter to parents) to write a brief paragraph about the person they will interview (should include name, where he or she is from, how long she or he has been in the United States, why the person came here, etc.). Also, during the first week, students will discuss and write in Interactive Writing what makes an oral history a "good" one (well written and interesting to read). I will challenge students to refer to the rubric to inform their discussions, and they will write their responses on chart paper. We will come back to this and add to our list as students continue reading oral histories. This list of things to think about will be useful as students are revising what they have written.

Second Week

Shared Reading: Students will read sample questions and select which questions will be useful to conduct the interviews. The PBS "The New Americans" website offers "Guiding Questions for Oral History Interview" which you can download and print for the students. Other excellent samples of questions are in Newcomers in America: Stories of Today's Young Immigrants. The questions that were given to each young person are provided at the beginning of each chapter. Chapter two focuses on "Coming to America." The questions are: Where are you originally from and how old were you when you came to America? What family members accompanied you on the journey? What do you remember about why you left and the preparations for leaving? How did you feel about coming to America? Where did you first arrive in the United States and how was it decided where you would live? To get the students thinking about writing an oral history, students could read the questions and answers that are included in "Oral History: Q&A Sample and Passage" on the PBS webpage. As a cooperative small group activity, students will work to organize responses to write an oral history. Later, they will read and compare theirs with what was written in the "Interview Transformed into an Oral History." Finally, students will read about best approaches and recommendations for conducting the interview. For example, what will they need to conduct the interview?

Directed Writing: As a pre-writing activity, students will begin working on developing interview questions and creating a list of questions. I will refer students to the list that was generated in the first week and continue to add to the list as you revisit this throughout the week in Interactive Writing In addition, as an Interactive Editing activity, I will facilitate the students to write an oral history based on a set of answers from questions. This will model how to take the responses in an interview and organize them to compose a "good" oral history. Also, students will revisit what was written for what makes a "good" oral history. Students will decide what are the essential elements and a writing rubric will be created. Mini lessons on quotation marks and note-taking will be presented to assist students with skills relevant to writing an oral history.

Independent Writing: Students will finalize their list of questions. If their interviewees speak only Spanish, the questions will need to be in Spanish.

Week Three

Independent Writing: Students will use this week to draft, revise, edit and publish. During this time they will share their drafts with their peers, who can provide constructive feedback and ask questions to clarify ideas. Direct instruction on writing in first-person voice and communicating the immigrant's story will be essential.

Independent Reading: Students will use this time to conduct research on their interviewee's homelands, birthplaces and collect background information relevant to the interviewee's stories. Have students reflect and add questions that come from this research in their Reading Response Logs.

Shared Reading: Students will share their oral histories throughout the week, at whatever stage they are in the writing process. After each reading, students will discuss their reactions and provide suggestions for improvement based on the rubric and chart on what makes a "good" oral history.

Week Four

Students will present their oral histories. Students will have a copy of the oral history to refer to (using an overhead projector) while they are being presented. Students will self- and peer-evaluate the oral histories and oral presentations using rubrics. After the presentations have been completed, students will evaluate their work overall. They could consider what they learned about immigration, what were the similarities or differences among the people who were interviewed, what were the challenges in doing this project, what did they learn about oral histories, etc. Students will complete the KWL chart on oral histories. In regards to the project, students can self-assess: Did you do your best? Did you work hard and feel good about what you completed? Did you finish your work on time? If you had to do it again, what would you do differently?

Assessment: Each student will write a brief thank you letter to the person they interviewed. The letter will detail what they have learned about immigration and how that relates to the interviewee's experience. I will also assess the oral histories using a scoring guide/ rubric. An excellent one is provided on the PBS "The New Americans" webpage.

Third Person Memoir Picture Book

Using the already written oral history, students will adapt it to create a memoir written in third-person. To complete this project in four weeks, students will compile their research; collect photographs, images and illustrations to create a memoir picture book of that person. Students will follow Writer's Workshop/ Writing Process to draft, revise, edit and publish their writing during Independent Writing. Students will orally present their memoirs the final week. Please note that this plan is written more as an overview of what activities should take place over the course of several weeks.

Through the creation of this project, each student will perform several learning goals that address state language arts, social studies, and visual arts standards and benchmarks (Appendix A). The criteria for illustration and narrative are: matches the text and tells a story (extends the text); sets the actions of the story in a clearly described time and place; presents the immigrant's story as the main character effectively; establishes a story line; develops the action of the main events of the story; focuses on important details; reveals an authentic artistic and cultural style; organizes story in an effective way; and makes thoughtful choices of medium to suit the mood and tone of the text (America's Choice, 5th Grade, Section V, Memoir Picture Book, p. 214).

As a focus activity, to initiate the project, I will read aloud to the students, "Memoir is how we try to make sense of who we are, who we once were, and what values and heritage shaped us,"(14) I will ask the students, based on what they already know - what kind of genre in literature is a memoir similar to (biography or autobiography). This will shape their thinking to understand how their memoir will resemble a biography but not of their subject's entire life but just that person's experience immigrating to the U.S. I will relate this discussion to the Text Sets Lesson (America's Choice, 5th Grade, Section V, Lesson 8, p. 203).Which text set or aspect of memoir writing will they produce?

I will use the book If Walls Could Speak/ Si las paredes hablaran by Celia Alvarez Muñoz as a model of the format for the memoir they will produce. This book presents the reader with two concurrent texts written in English and Spanish which run parallel to each other. The parallel texts frame several images, photographs, poems, drawings and sayings in the middle of each page. The engaging presentation/layout of the book is much like what you would see in a scrapbook. The running text at the bottom of the pages will be the story of immigrant, written in third-person. The running text at the top of the pages will be a short history of Latino immigration to the Unites States and Santa Fe.

Simultaneously with the creation of this project, I will incorporate visual references and timelines to strengthen the social studies lessons during Shared Reading. I have found In the Settling of North America valuable background information, maps, images and timelines on the Latin American migrations to Santa Fe, NM (local) and North America (national). In addition, students will read passages from The Immigrant Experience: The Mexican Americans by Julie Catalano, We Are Americans: Voices of the Immigrant Experience by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, and Destination America: The People and Cultures That Created a Nation. These shared reading experiences will support the writing of the historical account to be incorporated in the memoirs. As an extension, I will invite a local immigration advocacy group to talk to students and their parents on immigration issues that affect families in Santa Fe.

During Directed Writing, I plan to take students through the process of using an oral history as the basis for creating a memoir. The students and I will collaboratively distill what is essential in the sample oral history and transform it to a third person memoir. We will follow the Writer's Workshop/ Writing Process. This will take many sessions. When it comes time to revise the writing, I will focus on adding important and interesting details to the story (Lesson 10). This interactive writing piece will provide students a visual reference as they write their memoirs based on the oral histories they have written.

I will provide time for activity centers in which students can select, organize and design their memoirs (America's Choice, 5th Grade, Section V, Lessons 1-5 pp. 198-199). Students will be able to circulate to each center. The centers will be devoted to 1) poetry: select a portrait poem for the person; 2) oral history: adapt their oral history to a story. Students should consider what will make a "good" and interesting story; 3) Collaboration: Students will work in pairs to review the progress of their stories and give advice, using a rubric; 4) photography and art: Students will select and store copies of photographs, Chicano art and Mexican motifs to embellish the pages of their memoirs; and 5) maps: Students will create a migration map of the immigrant's journey, titled "From There to Here." The map "Enrique's Journey from Tegucigalpa to Nuevo Laredo" on pages iv - v of La travesía de Enrique by Sonia Nazario provides an excellent visual reference and example of what the students could do in theirs.

To assess the memoir, I will follow a writing rubric and project rubric. Students will also self- and peer-evaluate the memoirs and the oral presentations. Finally, students will self-assess their work quality and learning outcomes from this project.


1. Carlson, Lori Marie. Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems Being Young and Latino in the United States, pp. 122-3. This poem is written in English and in Spanish.

2. Data taken from website statistics.htm>

3. Ortiz, Vilma. "Language Background and Literacy among Hispanic Young Adults"

4. living-to-tell-stor-authentic-latio_26.html>

5. Sheets, Rosa Hernández. Diversity Pedagogy, p. 14.

6. Ibid, pp. 53-59.

7. living-to-tell-stor-authentic-latio_26.html>

8. Recommendation number 6 of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Report, p.5.

9. Sheets, Rosa Hernández. Diversity Pedagogy, definition found on p. 213.

10. Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, p. 426.

11. Ibid. p. 428.

12. Mora, Pat. My Own True Name, p. 23.

13. Present.html>.

14. Zinsser, William, Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, p. 6.


Annotated Bibliography for Teachers

Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San

Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1999. Prose and poetry on cultural hybridity.

Augenbraum, Harold and Margarite Ferndez Olmos ed. The Latino Reader: From

1542 to the Present. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997. An anthology of

Latino Literature from the mid-sixteenth century to the present day. Contains a section

(Aria, I) of Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodríguez.

Cisneros, Sandra. Caramelo. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2002. A fictional Mexican-

American family travels from Chicago to Mexico City. In the fourth chapter (pp. 16-

18), Lala Reyes narrates her experience crossing the border into Mexico, driving with

her family.

Colato Laínez, René. "Living to Tell the Story: The Authentic Latino Immigrant

Experience in Picture Books (Part 4)" June 17, 2007. living-to-tell-stor-authentic-latio_26.html>

Blog on Chicano Literature, Writers, Fiction, Children's Literature, and reviews.

Davis, Marilyn P. Mexican Voices/American Dreams. New York: Henry Holt and

Company, 1990. Contains oral histories of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans

crossing the border.

California Early Literacy Learning, Extended Literacy Learning: Second Chance at

Literacy Learning. [2001 Technical Report]. Foundation for California Early

Literacy Learning: Redlands, CA, 2001. Description of elements for instruction.

Garrod, Andrew, Robert Kilkenny, and Christina Go?mez eds.Mi voz, mi vida : Latino

college students tell their life stories. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007. Details

the students' personal struggles with issues such as identity and biculturalism, family

dynamics, religion, poverty, stereotypes, and the value of education.

Kufeld, Adam. El Salvador. New York: W & W Norton and Company, 1990. A

collection of black & white photographs; includes history of civil war in El Salvador.

Martínez, Rubén. Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail. New York:

Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2001. Tracks a Mexican migrant family crossing the

U.S. border.

Muñoz, Celia Alvarez. If Walls Could Speak/ Si las paredes hablaran. Arlington, TX:

Enlightenment Press, 1991. A bilingual photo-text memoir.

Ortiz, Vilma. "Language Background and Literacy among Hispanic Young Adults"

Social Problems. Vol.26. No. 2. April 1989. IUP/SSRC Committee for Public Policy

Research. 1988. This paper examines the relationship between language background

and literacy among Hispanic young adults.

Reyes, Maria de la Luz and John J. Halcon ed. The Best for Our Children: Critical

Perspectives on Literacy for Latino Students. New York: Teachers College Press,

2001. Best practices for literacy instruction for Latino Students.

Sheets, Rosa Hernández. Diversity Pedagogy: Examining the Role of Culture in the

Teaching-Learning Process. New York: Pearson, 2005. Presents "Diversity

Pedagogy Theory and the relationship between culture, cognition, teaching, and


Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Boston: Little,

Brown and Company, 1993. Examines America's history from the perspective of the

minority peoples themselves

Tanner, Helen Hornback ed. The Settling of North America: The Atlas of the Great

Migrations Into North America From the Ice Age to the Present. New York:

Macmillan, 1995. Provides valuable background information, maps, images and

timelines on the migrations to Santa Fe, NM (local) [pp. 34, 44, 45, 48, 74] and North

America (national): "El Norte: Spanish-Speaking Americans Come North," 1910-95

[pp. 172-3]; Map 1 is of Mexican and Central American migration to North America,

1980-90; Map 2 is of Central Americans in the U.S., 1990.

Wills, Chuck. Destination America: The People and Cultures That Created a Nation.

New York: DK Publishing, Inc., 2005. Focuses on the theme of freedom as a way to

trace the story of immigration to the US. Combines color photos and illustrations with

a description of immigration from early Spanish settlements to colonization, and

chapters on immigration for several different reasons.

Zinsser, William, ed. Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir. New York:

Mariner Books, 1998. The six essays in this symposium explore the craft of memoir,

defined here as a portion of a life, narrower in scope than autobiography.

Annotated Reading List for Students

Argueta, Jorge. A Movie in My Pillow/ Una película en mi almohada. San Francisco:

Children's Book Press, 2004. Explores his journey from San Salvador to San

Francisco in this collection of emotional and optimistic poems.

Carlson, Lori M. ed. Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in

the United States. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2005. Poems are categorized: Language, Identity; Neighborhoods; Amor; Family Moments, Memories; Victory. Two poems: "I Am Who I Am, So What/Soy como soy y que" by Raquel Vale Sentíes; "The Journey That We Are" by Luis Alberto Ambroggio.

Catalano, Julie. The Immigrant Experience: The Mexican Americans. New York:

Chelsea House Publishers, 1996. Traces the growth of immigration of Mexicans to the

U.S. from the late 1800s to the present.

Cofer, Judith Ortiz. Call Me María. New York: Scholastic, 2004. A short novel of prose,

poetry and letters written by Maria, who is sometimes María Alegre or María Triste

(to her mother). She lives in PR but moves to the Barrio in NYC to live with her dad.

In "More Than You Know Sabes? p. 28, María reflects on knowing two languages.

Cofer, Judith Ortiz. ed. Riding Low on the Streets of Gold: Latino Literature for Young

Adults. Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 2003. This anthology explores the

challenges of negotiating identity and relationships with others, struggling with

authority, learning to love oneself and challenging the roles society demands.

DeDenato, Colette ed. City of One: Young Writers Speak to the World. San Francisco,

CA: Ann Lutte Books, 2004. Young people write poems about their lives and the state

of the world.

Greenburg, Judith E. In Their Own Words: Newcomers to America - Stories of Today's

Young Immigrants. New York: Franklin Watts, 1996. Provides voices of young

immigrants through candid interviews and conversations on their experiences

adapting to a new life, culture, and sometimes, language in the United States.

Herrera, Juan Felipe. The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza. San Francisco:

Children's Book Press, 2000. The author recalls the year when his farm worker

parents settled down in the city so that he could go to school for the first time.

Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas. We Are Americans: Voices of the Immigrant

Experience. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2003. Letters, diaries, oral histories, and

biographies describe immigrants' dreams for a new life, their journeys to America,

and their successes and hardships once they arrived.

Medina, Jane. The Dream on Blanca's Wall/El sueño pegado en la pared de Blanca.

Pennsylania: Wordsong Boyds Mills Press, 2004. This free-verse collection delineates

the life of Blanca, a sixth grader who aspires to become an educator. Poems: "The

Parent Teacher Conference" and "Who Cares?/ A quién le importa?"

Medina, Jane. My Name is Jorge: On Both Sides of the River. Pennsylania: Wordsong

Boyds Mills Press, 1999. Poems that explore the struggles of a boy from Mexico

attending school in the United States. Poems: "My Name is Jorge/Mi llamo Jorge";

"Invisible/Invisible"; and "The Busy Street/La calle congestionada".

Mora, Pat. My Own True Name: New and Selected Poems for Young Adults. Houston

Piñata Books, 2000. Interlaced with Mexican phrases and cultural symbols, these

powerful selections address bicultural life and the meaning of family.

Nazario, Sonia. La travesía de Enrique. New York: Random House, 2006. An epic story

of Enrique, Honduran, who decides to make the journey to join his mother in North


Pérez, Amada Irma. My Diary From Here to There/ Mi diario de aquí hasta allá.

San Francisco: Children's Book Press, 2002. A young girl describes her feelings

when her father decides to leave their home in Mexico to look for work in the U.S.

Testa, Maria. Something About America. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2005. A

young girl from Kosava, Yugoslavia writes poetry describing her experiences living

in America as she considers what being an American truly means. Poem: "What I Like

About America" pp. 24-26

Classroom/Instructional Materials

Grubin, David. "Destination America: The People and Cultures That Created A Nation."

Alexandria, VA: PBS Home Video, 2006.

Working Films, "New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina" 2006. A media-based

curriculum project which contains 16 documentary film clips (Escuela) that address

issues related to Latinos in education, labor and community.

Appendix A

Implementing District Standards

In this interdisciplinary curricular unit of study I address the New Mexico social studies, language arts and visual arts content area standards and benchmarks listed below.

History Standard 1: Students are able to identify important people and events in order to analyze significant patterns, relationships, themes, ideas, beliefs, and turning points in New Mexico, United States, and world history in order to understand the complexity of the human experience. D. Skills: Research historical events and people from a variety of perspectives. Civics and Government Standard 1: Students understand the ideals, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship and understand the content and history of the founding documents of the United States with particular emphasis on the United States and New Mexico constitutions and how governments function at local, state, tribal, and national levels. A. Understand the structure, functions, and powers of government. B. Explain the significance of symbols, icons, songs, traditions, and leaders of New Mexico and the United States that exemplify ideals and provide continuity and a sense of unity. D. Explain how individuals have rights and responsibilities as members of social groups, families, schools, communities, states, tribes, and countries. Geography Standard 2: Students understand how physical, natural, and cultural processes influence where people live, the ways in which people live, and how societies interact with one another and their environments. B. Explain the physical and human characteristics of places and use this knowledge to define regions, their relationships with other regions, and their patterns of change. C. Understand how human behavior impacts man-made and natural environments, recognizes past and present results, and predicts potential changes. E. Understand how economic, political, cultural, and social processes interact to shape patterns of human populations, and their interdependence, cooperation, and conflict. Language Arts Standard 1: Reading and Listening for Comprehension: Students will apply strategies and skills to comprehend information that is read, heard, and viewed. A. Listen to, read, react to, and interpret information. B. Gather and use information for research and other purposes. C. Apply critical thinking skills to analyze information. D. Demonstrate competence in the skills and strategies of the reading process. Language Arts Standard 2: Writing and Speaking for Expression: Students will communicate effectively through speaking and writing. A. Use speaking as an interpersonal communication tool. B. Apply grammatical and language conventions to communicate. C. Demonstrate competence in the skills and strategies of writing process. Language Arts Standard 3: Literature and Media: Students will use literature and media to develop an understanding of people, societies, and the self. A. Use language, literature, and media to understand various social and cultural perspectives. B. Identify ideas and make connections among literary works. Arts Content Standard 2: Use visual arts to express ideas. Arts Content Standard 3: Integrate understanding of visual arts by seeking connections and parallels among arts disciplines as well as all other content areas. Arts Content Standard 4: Demonstrate an understanding of the dynamics of the creative process.

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