Recently, I blogged a reflection on the Spring 2013 issue of “Teaching Tolerance” a magazine written by “A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.” It highlighted five teachers who were selected for the 2012 Award for Excellence in culturally responsive teaching. The reoccurring theme among all five of these teachers is that they celebrated their students and their cultural diversity and used education with a purpose to change the community. I was inspired by their ability to inspire critical thinking amongst their students.
This last marking period, I decided to focus on creating more activities and journal prompts that celebrate my student’s diversity and also inspire higher level thinking. I want my students to be proud of who they are and where they come from. First, I researched and printed out numerous pictures of famous Latinos to paste on the wall.
I started with Cesar Chavez and found his life story in Reading A-Z. We did the following activities which focused on reading skills, vocabulary support, discussion of history and ideas related to higher level thinking. Finally we journaled and made creative responses to support the activity.
1. Vocabulary support. I had students do a picture walk through the book. We then identified key vocabulary words through the use of the glossary. Prior to looking up the definition of words, I had students define them through context clues. Refer to this blog activity for this sticky notes and context clues activity.
2. Discussion of History. While completing the sticky notes and vocabulary context clues activity, we had a discussion on the word “civil disobedience.” We discussed other related words and names such as civil rights, unions (United Farm Workers Union), migrants, boycott, marches, fasts, and Mahatma Gandhi. We discussed the role that Cesar Chavez played in paving the way for immigrant civil rights.
3. Reading skills. Students read portions of the story of Cesar Chavez independently or collaboratively. We focused on the last chapter of the book entitled “Cesar Chavez’ Legacy.” Students were required to fill out an organizer to scaffold for summarizing skills. They focused on Who, What, When, Where, Why and then create a small written “summary” or book report re: what they read.
4. Journaling and Discussion (higher level thinking). These activities involved the following:
a). Defining the vocabulary word “legacy.” We then chose one “concrete word” to describe Cesar Chavez’ legacy and two “abstract words.” Students chose concrete words such as “union” or “awards.” For Cesar Chavez’ abstract legacy, students chose words like “pride” “freedom” “civil rights” etc.
b). Journaling and making connections. Students were required to think about the type of legacy they wanted to leave behind for their own lives (one concrete thing, two abstract things). I then asked them to journal about their own legacy. In addition, I asked students to differentiate between concrete and abstract and I asked them to tell me what they felt is the most important part of their legacy.
c). Discussion and making a creative response. Students shared their journal with class and each member filled out a response form telling each student what they liked the best about their classmate’s journal and they asked one question. We followed through with having students orally identify important qualities each of their classmates currently display when it comes to forging their own legacy. This allowed me as a teacher to spotlight the uniqueness and special qualities of each student in my class. Following are summaries of student responses re: their future legacies- in addition to some artwork that they created to support and symbolize their legacy.
Saul:“I would want to leave an abstract legacy of working hard and helping Mexicans. I think Mexico should become a better place. Also, I think I can make a difference if I work hard. If we work hard, we can end the Mexican cartel. Also, when I am done, I hope I left a good reputation of working hard work for people. I hope it really works and helps. Also, I want a statue to remember what Mexicans are really hard workers. Also, all Mexicans should have equal rights rich or poor. I would accomplish these things by working hard. I think I would want to leave an abstract legacy because Mexican should always be able to keep these things in their heads/hearts.”
Here’s Saul’s artwork that symbolizes his future legacy.
Katia: “The three types of legacies I want to leave are my bird Vencenzo and the money that I have (concrete). Two abstract things I want to leave are my love to my family and to believe that I was a good friend to my friends. The most important item is my love to my family to make sure that they know I will always love them forever. I would want to leave both concrete and abstract because they will both do good to my family and friends. I would leave my bird Vencenzo to my little sister Emily. I would like to leave my love to all my family including the ones I don’t know/met. Lastly, I would like to be remembered by my friends that I was a good friend who helped them. Those are the three legacies I will leave.”
Here’s Katia’s artwork that symbolizes her future legacy.
Wendy: “One of the legacies that I want to leave is a better life for people who really need it. Another legacy I want to leave is a place like a hospital for people who have problems in their mind. The last thing I want to leave is a clean mind because many people think about negative things. I want to help them realize that they are doing bad. I want them to think good like to look forward to school so they can have a better life and not be in jail or under highways. Those are my three legacies I want to leave. What are yours?”
Here’s Wendy’s artwork that symbolizes her future legacy.