Local Event!! Día de los Muertos: The Significance of Death in Mexican Culture

For all of our local New Mexico Readers:

We are very excited to announce our first in a series of six free workshops on teaching about about Día de los Muertos. 2014-09-10_Dia-de-los-Muertos_The-Significance-of-Death-in-Mexican-Culture

In this workshop, “Día de los Muertos: The Significance of Death in Mexican Culture,” we will explore the history of Día de los Muertos; tour the intriguing exhibit on “Skulls and Sickles” on display at the UNM Zimmerman Library (which considers the visual rhetoric of death in Mexican art); hear a special lecture on the topic from Dr. Suzanne Schadl, curator and coordinator of UNM’s Latin American library collections; and discuss ways to meet Common Core reading and writing standards while exploring this meaningful celebration.

The workshop will be held on September 10th from 5:00-8:00 pm at the Latin American and Iberian Institute, UNM. If you have any questions or to register, email Keira at kphilipp@unm.edu

Click here for a pdf version of our flyer.  Feel free to share this information with anyone else who may be interested.

Hope to see you there!!


En la Clase: School Library Journal’s Diversity Issue

SLJ Diversity IssueIdentity is one of the first themes we’ll be tackling in our upcoming posts for the new year.  It’s an important topic that connects to so much of what we do in education, but it’s not always an easy one to discuss or teach about.  In our posts we hope to both provide resources to help bridge this topic in the classroom, and generate dialogue on how you as educators are already talking and teaching about this topic in your classrooms.  It’s certainly a theme that remains relevant throughout the year, but it was always one that I liked to address from the very beginning of the school year.  It easily lends itself to other topics common to August and September lessons, such as how to be yourself, acceptance,  and community.  It also provides a nice way to lead in to Hispanic Heritage Month (another theme we’ll be writing about soon) which allows for the discussion of identity to continue in a more specific context.

For today’s post, I’d like to call your attention to the School Library Journal’s recently-released “The Diversity Issue” 2014.  If we’re going to talk about identity in the classroom, we have to address the issues around diversity, especially how diversity is presented in the literature we use in the classroom.  The entire issue is available for free online.  With sixteen different articles, this issue contains a wealth of information applicable to everyone in education.  Below I’ve highlighted just a few of the articles, but I hope you’ll check out the issue in its entirety.  We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share in the comment section! Remember our first giveaway runs through tomorrow, August 28th, everyone who comments is entered in the giveaway!

Image: Illustration by Christopher Meyers.  Reprinted from SLJ Diversity Issue | Children’s Books.  Still an All-White World?

Local Event!! Rethinking Conquest & Colonization

For all of our local New Mexico Readers:

2014-09-03_Rethinking-Conquest-and-ColonizationWe are very excited to announce our first LAII k-12 Teacher workshop of the year– “Rethinking Conquest & Colonization.”  The workshop will be held on Wednesday September 3rd from 5:00-8:00 pm at the Latin American and Iberian Institute, UNM.

Join us for a free, unique professional development opportunity for k-12 educators. With Columbus Day on October 8th, this time of year provides the opportunity both to reconsider not only how and what we teach about Christopher Columbus, but also more generally how conquest, colonization and the continued struggles of indigenous peoples are taught in the classroom. This workshop will provide the opportunity to engage in a discussion of these topics with special presentations by Dr. Glenabah Martinez, Associate Professor, and Dr. Vincent Werito, Assistant Professor, both from the UNM Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies.

The first 20 teachers to register will receive a free copy of one of our favorite publications, Rethinking Columbus!! We’ve got lots of different resources on the blog to support using this book in the classroom.

If you have any questions or to register, email Keira at kphilipp@unm.edu

Click here for a pdf version of our flyer.  Feel free to share this information with anyone else who may be interested.

Hope to see you there!!


Thoughts on Ferguson and Recommended Resources


Lee & Low shared this post today with thoughts on what’s going on in Ferguson and how we can teach about it in our classroom, and I wanted to share it with our Vamos a Leer readers. I especially appreciated the following quote from publisher Jason Low: “From a distance, it can seem like our book-filled corner of the world doesn’t have much to do with Michael Brown’s death, but we know better. The need for more diverse books and better representation is urgent. Poor representation doesn’t just damage self-esteem and confidence of children of color, it also perpetuates a skewed version of society as a whole. How can true equality ever exist if we are literally not even on the same page? Promoting diverse books is about creating a safer space for all children.”

I hope you’ll read the entire post and check out the resources for teaching about such a difficult subject.

Originally posted on the open book:

The following is a note from our Publisher, Jason Low, published in this month’s e-newsletter:

image from BirdIt’s been a hard few weeks for those of us following the news out of Ferguson, Missouri. While the exact details of Michael Brown’s death remain unknown, we can already see how this latest incident fits into a larger narrative in this country in which people of color are routinely discriminated against and subject to violence based on the color of their skin. Healing and change cannot begin until we as a country acknowledge the role racism plays not just in events like Michael Brown’s death, but in the everyday lived experiences of the 37% of America that is not white.

From a distance, it can seem like our book-filled corner of the world doesn’t have much to do with Michael Brown’s death, but we know better. The need for more diverse books…

View original 168 more words

En la Clase: Welcome Back to Another Year!

Welcome BackWe hope you all had a wonderful summer full of fun times and lots of rest and relaxation!  We are back posting periodically this month and will be back with our regular ¡Mira, Look!, En la Clase and WWW posts at the beginning of September.  We have an almost entirely new blogging team this year and we’re giving them time to settle in! Keira and I are so sad to say goodbye to both Adam and Neoshia.  Adam graduated from law school this past spring and is now working for a local law firm.  We’ll definitely be celebrating this huge accomplishment when he gets sworn in! Neoshia spent the summer in Guatemala and is starting her first year of law school as we speak! We miss them already, but we’re eagerly waiting to hear about all of the new and exciting things happening for them.  We’re also excited to introduce you to our two new bloggers. You’ll get to know both Lorraine and Jake well as they take over writing our weekly posts in September.

I know our Albuquerque teachers went back to school last week and many of our other readers will return to school in the next few weeks.  With that in mind, I thought I’d share some relevant beginning of the year posts from past years that our new readers may not be familiar with, along with one of my favorite beginning of the year activities–Get to Know You Bingo.

Last summer we shared a series of En la Clase posts featuring lesson plans that introduce teaching about race, culture, difference, acceptance, and respect as ways to encourage community building in the classroom.  These lessons were written primarily for younger grades, but many could be adapted for older students as well.  Many times parents and educators believe we don’t need to (or even shouldn’t) discuss things like race, class, gender, difference, or acceptance, with our younger children.  Yet research has shown that young children do notice these things.  They talk about them, think about them, and draw conclusions based on what they see and hear, which for me means we shouldn’t wait until they’re older to begin discussing these things in explicit ways in the classroom.  I’ve linked to these lessons below.

We also shared another series entitled “Around the World in 180 Days”.  This four part series looked at various themes relevant to providing authentic multicultural education.  In the posts we discussed ways and resources that could help us as educators to provide an authentic multicultural education that would go beyond superficiality, to provide a deeper understanding of what it means to be a global citizen for our students.  I’ve included the links below. 

Before I get to today’s bingo activity, I thought I’d link to one more post on another one of my favorite activities for the beginning of the year.  I loved making “All About Me” Cubes with both my middle and elementary school students.  This activity offers one more way to build classroom community while bringing students’ own lives into the classroom curriculum.  It’s a great activity to do in preparation for Open House or Parent-Teacher Conferences, especially if you’re looking for a fun display that showcases your students. It can be adapted to a much broader grade range.  I found it was always the perfect activity to do at the beginning of the school year as we eased into the structure and curriculum of the new year.  With four separate parts, it was easy to spread the project out over an entire month, and it could be stopped and started without much trouble.  There are lots of variations of “All About Me” projects, if you already have one that you use, it could easily be adapted to the cube format.

Get to Know You Bingo is an activity I’ve used with elementary, middle and college students.  It’s great for helping students get to know each other which aids in building classroom community.  It’s also one more way to show students that their lives outside the classroom are relevant parts to what we do at school.  It works with everyone, and students always enjoy it.  It’s a very simple two day activity.  First, give each student a slip of paper and then ask each student to write a short sentence that tells something about them that no one else in the class knows.  Collect all of the papers and create a bingo sheet with the sentences the students provided.  Click here for the blank bingo sheet I use each year.  It’s a word document so you can edit it for your class.  If you have extra spaces, just fill them in as “Free Spaces”.  The next day, give each student a copy of the bingo sheet you created. Explain that they will go around the class asking questions of their classmates trying to determine which fact goes with which student.  When they match a student with a box they either write that student’s name in the box or have that student sign their name.  You can play this as a typical bingo game having students stop when one student completes an entire row, or you can have students play until they’ve all filled out the entire sheet (which is what I’ve always done).  My students always loved this activity.  I’ve found it’s perfect for a Friday afternoon at the end of one of the first weeks of school.

We’d love to hear about how you start your new school year in the comment section. We hope you all have a wonderful beginning to the new school year!

Image: Welcome Back Card. Reprinted from UR Living Learning under CC ©.

11 Educator Resources for Teaching Children About Latin American Immigration and Migration

2014-08-10_ImmigrationOne of the most pressing issues everyone is addressing right now is immigration and migration between the US and Latin America.  Here at Vamos a Leer, our thoughts, too, have been dwelling on the topic more than usual.

Jill Eisenberg at Lee & Low Books also has clearly been thinking about it.  She’s scoured the internet and put together a fantastic list of free resources to help educators teach children about Latin American immigration and migration.  It’s such a great list of resources that we wanted to share it with you.  In addition, if this is something which interests you, we also advise checking out Jill’s other recent post about 11 Books on Latin American Immigration and Migration.

11 Educator Resources for Teaching Children About Latin American Immigration and Migration.

In full disclosure, we should note that we were honored to be listed among Jill’s resources!

Image: Photograph of immigration area in Jamaican airport, ca 1970. Reprinted from Flickr user rickpilot_2000 under CC ©.

Book Giveaway!! Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

MegMedinaYaquiWe’re giving away a copy of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass written by Meg Medina–our featured novel for September’s book group meeting!!

Check out the following from Kirkus Review:

“Interweaving themes of identity, escapism and body image, Medina takes what could be a didactic morality tale and spins it into something beautiful: a story rich in depth and heart. Piddy’s ordeal feels 100 percent authentic; there are no easy outs, no simple solutions. Displaying a mature understanding of consequences and refreshingly aware (no deducing supporting characters’ feelings before the protagonist, here), Piddy also exhibits an age-appropriate sense of vulnerability. The prose is both honest (“growing up is like walking through glass doors that only open one way—you can see where you came from but can’t go back”) and exquisitely crafted (“Fear is my new best friend. It stands at my elbow in chilly silence”). Far more than just a problem novel, this book sheds light on a serious issue without ever losing sight of its craft.”

It’s a great book and one that I think should be in every school and community library.  Check out 5 Things Meg Medina Learned While Writing Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass from Diversity in YA to learn a little more about the book.

To be entered in the giveaway, just comment on any post on the blog by August 28th.  Everyone who comments between July 1st and August 28th will be entered in the drawing.  If your name is chosen, we’ll email you ASAP about mailing the book to you.

Don’t forget, we also raffle off a copy of the following month’s featured novel at each book group meeting.  So if you’re an Albuquerque local, join us for a chance to win!

Good luck!