WWW: Reparations and Confronting the Legacy of Slavery in the Island Nation Known as the First Black Republic

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Another week has gone by already! And just like that, we are into February. Thanks for reading again. Hopefully 2016 has gone smoothly for everyone reading! I know we are feeling the pace increase a bit here.

As February takes hold, and many classrooms turn to studies of Black History and the Civil Rights Movement, we at Vamos a Leer are turning our focus to the history of Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbean people. In this post in particular, I am addressing (very briefly) the widespread history of slavery and its implications particularly within Haiti and other Caribbean countries.

Besides open immigration flows, there are people of African descent in every country in the Western Hemisphere in large measure because Africans were taken forcibly as slaves and transported from Africa to the Americas from the 15th to the 19th century, used as human barter in exchange for goods, spices, and outright income. As slaves, Africans were treated as goods; they were bought, sold, traded, beaten and killed for disobeying unjust rules and regulations set by their owners. Side bar: we acknowledge that this is a difficult topic to teach, but also want to emphasize how necessary it is to have these conversations in our classrooms. For a brief overview of what to keep in mind when teaching about slavery writ large, see the article “Tongue-Tied” by Teaching Tolerance. Continue reading

WWW: Food, Festivals, and Feelings: Less than a week until Turkey Day!

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks for joining me again this week! I can almost smell all the delicious foods being prepared at home already! Can’t you? I hope you and your students are getting excited to celebrate the holiday in your own special ways.  This week, I am featuring a few resources that highlight the ways in which Thanksgiving coincides with Harvest Festivals throughout the world.

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Food, Festivals, and Feelings: Less than a week until Turkey Day!The first resource is from Eatocracy and it shows some beautiful images of how Thanksgiving foods in different parts of the United States have been adapted to include more Latin American ingredients.  For example, the first picture on the page shows the Castillo-Lavergne Family’s Turkey Pasteles, which are wrapped green banana stuffed pastries.  This is the perfect display of how the traditional turkey platter can be transformed and included in other cultural dishes.  This article, creatively titled, “El Día de Las Gracias—Thanksgiving with a Latin Twist,” celebrates the coming together of flavors, families, and cultures across the United States.  We think this resource could easily be incorporated into class discussions of how students celebrate the holiday, what foods they have every year, and who gets to help with the cooking. Continue reading

WWW: Teaching Thanksgiving with a Grain of Salt (and Some Succotash Seneca)

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thank you again for joining me during the busy weeks! This week, I am featuring a resource that offers a Thanksgiving story that differs a bit from the traditional “Pilgrims and Indians” story we are accustomed to hearing.  There are many discrepancies with the “First Feast” idea that accompanies most Thanksgiving stories, including some that highlight the Spaniards’ presence in North America prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival and others that were highlighted in last week’s post (link to rethinking schools resource).  However, this resource offers yet another perspective on Thanksgiving.  This author happens to be a historian who teaches in high schools and also identifies as Native American. Continue reading

WWW: Thanks but No Thanks: Creating a November with No Stereotypes

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Thanks but No Thanks: Creating a November with No StereotypesAs we move into November (I know, I cannot believe it’s November either!), I want to thank all my readers!  This is a busy time in the semester/year so I appreciate the time you are spending with me on Friday mornings.  Today, I wanted to kick off the month by expanding the discussion beyond the trite, problematic depiction of “the first Thanksgiving between Pilgrims and Indians” to which so many classrooms and communities still adhere. We do a disservice to ourselves and to others if we hold just to that depiction.

At various times over the past few years, Katrina has posted about how to contradict stereotypes associated with Thanksgiving and offered ways to “re-teach” it. At the bottom of my post, I’ve provided links to her posts on the topic. Continue reading

WWW: Migrating Ancestors and the Flight of the Monarch

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Whether you’re joining for the first time or you stop by frequently, thanks for checking out my post this week!  In light of the upcoming celebrations of Día de los Muertos, I wanted to highlight one small detail involved in the holiday that sometimes gets overlooked: the Monarch migration!  Vamos a Leer | WWW: Migrating Ancestors and the Flight of the MonarchThese butterflies fly south for the winter, sometimes over 100 miles per day as they migrate from the United States to southern Mexico.  The Monarch Butterflies are a small detail among many in the celebration of Día de los Muertos; however, this detail is of particular importance because many people believe the butterflies migrating are the souls of their ancestors returning to celebrate the holiday with them.

In recognition of this belief, this week’s World Wide Web post brings you a few different resources – all of which are available on the same website!  The first resource is a Teacher’s Guide to teaching about the Monarch Butterfly.  The guide explains the background of the Monarch migration and the cultural importance of the migration.  It includes many activities for the classroom, such as a slideshow (available in English and Spanish) that explains many aspects of the traditional celebration of Día de los Muertos, topics for discussion in the classroom, and research ideas for students.  There is also a Resource list with links to more information on how the celebrations of Día de los Muertos take place and some of the foods that are made in preparation.  It would be great to make Pan de los Muertos for a classroom cultural celebration!  Aside from the Teacher’s Guide emphasized here, the website includes a great deal of information about Monarch Butterflies in general, including updated maps on the butterflies’ travels and news of their progress.  The section titled Kids includes many resources for students to interact with, such as charts about the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly and the importance of its migration.  It would be a great resource to work with in the classroom to highlight themes of tradition, migration, and the benefits of cross-country movement. Continue reading

WWW: La Llorona and Learning Through the Wails

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

To all who are joining for the first time or who are following the posts each week, thank you for stopping by the blog!  We are kicking off the new month by celebrating and acknowledging the personal histories of our families and communities.  In light of this focus, I thought I’d emphasize the importance of oral histories, traditions, and story-telling by highlighting a few interconnected resources, with a focus on La Llorona!  Vamos a Leer | WWW: La Llorona and Learning Through the Wails As Keira mentioned in her “Sobre Octubre” post, the myth of La Llorona can serve as a means of understanding story, history, and memory. Her’s is a story that has been passed down as a myth among generations.  By looking at how her story has endured and evolved, we can open up conversations about storytelling and oral histories within our own families and communities.

So, the first resource I highlight here details how the Latin American legend of La Llorona (the wailing woman, the weeping woman, the crying woman) has developed and changed throughout the years, both in Latin America and in the United States.  The website also has a number of interviews from community members, each of whom give a different account of La Llorona’s history, as they have been taught by their families.  I particularly enjoyed the clips that described who La Llorona is, what she looks like, and what traditions have come about in her honor/memory.  These interviews, along with the timeline, can be a great way to start conversations not only about La Llorona, but about storytelling and oral histories as a means to transfer traditions from one generation to the next.

The second resource is a lesson plan created to help teach students how to be storytellers with their own traditions and histories.  The teacher starts by giving an example of an oral history, like La Llorona, and then proceeds to work with students to create their own stories.  This lesson plan is particularly interesting because it allows the teacher to connect the process of storytelling to the genre of ancient epics and serves as a bridge from the students’ own personal experiences to literature written many generations ago.  The lesson plan has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards in New Mexico for grades nine through twelve, which are detailed under the standards tab for each grade individually.  This plan also links to other related resources that can be used in conjunction with the one I have included above.

Using La Llorona as a starting point, the students can interactively create their own oral histories with the help of the lesson plan provided above.  Even further, teachers can use commonly talked about oral traditions to connect what the students already know to what they need to learn!  These resources can help incorporate Hispanic Heritage into common curriculum requirements, reviving the standard curriculum and making it more relatable.  I hope these resources can bring to you and your students a new perspective on reading and relating to older materials, all in time for Día de los Muertos!

With warmest wishes,

Charla


Image: Photo of “La Llorona” Signs. Reprinted from Flickr user baldiri under CC ©.

Book Giveaway: The Malachite Palace, Jordi’s Star, The Unicorn of the West, AND Alma Flor’s Narration of Them (CD)!

Good afternoon, everyone!

Congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway and thank you to all who commented!  This week, you can win three of Alma Flor Ada’s books and her narration of them on CD!  The three books are The Malachite Palace, Jordi’s Star, and The Unicorn of the West.

Vamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: The Malachite Palace/Jordi’s Star/The Unicorn of the West/AND Alma Flor’s Narration of Them (CD)!The first of the three, The Malachite Palace, was written by Alma Flor Ada and illustrated by Leonid Gore.  The book description reads “This original fairy tale celebrates the importance of freedom and the need to take responsibility for one’s own freedom.  Although the queen, the governess, and the lady-in-waiting all believe that the young princess is too delicate and refined to play with the neighborhood children, the princess herself decides otherwise.”  The School Library Journal recommends the book for children in pre-school up to grade three (ages four to eight years old).  On the same page with the book descriptions on Alma Flor’s website, there is a coloring page that you could print out and have the students color after reading the story together. Continue reading