WWW: Hispanic Heritage Cultural Tour

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks for joining me again this week!  In an effort to show how immigration has truly impacted the United States, I am featuring a resource from the Smithsonian Education website.  Vamos a Leer | WWW: Hispanic Heritage Cultural TourSince this month is Hispanic Heritage Month, the Smithsonian has put together a Hispanic Heritage Cultural Tour that can be completed online without even leaving the classroom.  On this virtual tour, users can find descriptions of the twelve objects showcased, and links to related objects, along with activities that explain their cultural significance, and quizzes to check comprehension.  Users will also notice that there is a list of resources that can be used in conjunction with this tour.  Students can even use the Interactive Lab Notebook to take notes and can refer to them at any time.

The objects, some of which include a short-handled hoe, a uniform from Roberto Clemente’s time playing for the Pirates, and a carnival mask, to name just a few, are all accompanied by descriptions of what they represent for the Latino community.  Many of the objects also illustrate ways in which the Latino community has influenced or impacted the United States.  For example, the Devoción de Nuevo Mexico art piece shows the influence Latin American art has had, while the carnival mask illustrates the maintenance of Latino traditions even in the United States.  Each object showcased on the tour can be a discussion point for the importance of immigration! Continue reading


Book Giveaway: Dancing Home/Nacer Bailando

Good morning, everyone!

Congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway and thank you to all who commented!  Vamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: Dancing Home/Nacer BailandoThis week, you have a chance to win another giveaway package, which includes the book Nacer Bailando and the English language edition, Dancing Home.
We are grateful to Alma Flor Ada, who not only co-authored this book with Gabriel M. Zubizarreta, but also donated the copies we are able to give away today!  School Library Journal recommends the book for grades three through six (ages eight to twelve) and features a review written by Helen Foster James: Continue reading

Book Giveaway: Vivir en dos idiomas and Yes! We are Latinos/¡Sí! Somos Latinos

Good afternoon, everyone!

It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means! Today, we are congratulating Reina, our winner from last week, and we are ready to give away our second book package in the series. I am so excited to be kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month with this giveaway!

Vamos a Leer | Book Giveaway: Vivir en dos idiomas and Yes! We are LatinosThis week, we have the memoria of Alma Flor Ada’s life, Vivir en dos idiomas, in which “Alma Flor shares with the adult reader the most important moments of her life: as a student,
teacher, mother, activist, author and professor. She shares with openness and sincerity, and her engaging style as a storyteller, the circumstances that transformed her life, her experiences living in four different countries, the people who influenced her development and the lessons learned from life.” The book incorporates many personal stories—from her childhood in Cuba to her experiences in the United States that initiated her support for peasant immigrants—and even highlights how she became a writer in the first place. Continue reading

Book Giveaway: The Start to Our Next Giveaway Series!

Good morning, everyone!

I hope the news of our next series of Tuesday Giveaways can brighten your morning! For the next nine weeks, I will be posting each Tuesday about books you can win simply by reading and commenting on the post! Some of the books are bilingual or have a Spanish and English version. Some are accompanied by an audio recording of the author’s reading of the stories or sing-along music. Not to mention that the books span a variety of age groups. There is truly something for everyone in this series!

Before I detail the books available to win this week, I want to start by offering a huge thank you to the two amazing women who have made this giveaway series possible by donating copies of many of their books to the University of New Mexico Latin American & Iberian Institute: Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. Without this outstanding display of generosity, we would not have been able to do this series of giveaways. In case you’re not familiar with these two authors, we want to give you some background information on their work. Let’s start with Alma Flor Ada. As her website shows, she has been recognized many times for her writing and dedication to community and culture: Continue reading

WWW: Mayan Hands, Backstrap Looms and Weaving the Guatemalan Highlands

Backstrap_loomMayan Hands is an organization that promotes the social, economic and historical importance of weaving among Mayan communities in the highlands of Guatemala.  Mostly, it is the women in these communities who take up the art of weaving at a very young age; in fact, weaving is synonymous with a birth-rite for many Mayan girls and is considered an essential part of community life.  Mayan weaving is known for a refined and unique style called back-strap weaving.  Having the students watch the Mayan Hands’ back-strap weaving videos is an amazing opportunity to use media on the web to bring a far-away cultural reality into the classroom.

After watching the videos, students should try and answer the following questions, as well as any others they might formulate or be inspired to ask.  How does weaving act as a tool for organization among women?  In what ways do the videos portray the Mayan art of weaving (ancient or modern; technical or basic)?  How does Mayan back-strap weaving relate to tourism and to ourselves as consumers here in the north?  As the students begin formulating ideas about Mayan women and the art of weaving, here is some important background information.

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WWW: The Powerful, Articulate and Eloquent Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

Sor_Juana artTwo classroom lessons on ‘The First Great Latin American Poet’, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, are available on EDSITEment!  We saw Sor Juana at the center of Lorraine’s post earlier this week, and we were introduced to a young girl whose vivacious, voracious and eager appetite for knowledge and learning set her apart in the colonial period in which she was born. As a college student who often studies topics in Mexican history, I cannot emphasize enough how central a figure Sor Juana is, both historically and in the construction of Mexican National Identity.  Sor Juana’s life work speaks to the infinite complexity of the colonial period, a period we normally reduce to one of unabated suppression over minority and marginalized voices.  However, the more we study our colonial past, the more we realize that political and social agency (or power) did in fact exist within many marginalized communities and individuals.  As students living in the modern age, we may be surprised to see Sor Juana’s audaciousness and ability to carve out a place of academic autonomy for women in what is often thought of as the most restricting institution of all: the Church.  However, we can also think of Sor Juana as an artist, a genius, a mentor and a spirit dedicated to the betterment of her community, regardless of time period, religion or gender.  Needless to say, which ever way you decide to understand Sor Juana and her life’s work, it is difficult to ignore her remarkable and outstanding story.

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WWW: Pelo Malo and Venezuelan Pop Music from the 70s

pelo malo juniorThis week we have an amazing film resource from Venezuela, 2013’s internationally-acclaimed Bad Hair (“Pelo Malo”). Writer/Director Mariana Rondón brings us this incredibly poignant story about a young boy named Junior who is obsessed with straightening his thick, curly hair, an obsession that drives his mother into a panic over her son’s masculinity.

Earlier this week, ¡Mira, Look! featured Laura Lacámara’s phenomenal book, Dalia’s Wondrous Hair (El cabello maravilloso de Dalia), a book that shares so many amazing similarities with today’s film, Bad Hair.  Firstly, and most obvious, they both deal with a child’s mix of struggle and enjoyment in learning to deal with their hair.  Both of the writers are women who come from Latin American countries with Caribbean coastline and strong Afrolatino cultures.  And, in the end, they both deal with love – love of community, love of family and love of self. That being said, let’s dive into some of the most salient points of Bad Hair, a film that will have you laughing and crying, and will surely leave you wanting to know more about life in Caracas, Venezuelan history, but mostly, it will leave you with a particular song stuck in your head.

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¡Mira Look!: Beyond Heroes and Holidays

As you may have already read, the theme for our first month back is multicultural education.  Many of our posts this month may not have that specific focus on Latin America that they typically do, but the topics and ideas that they cover undergird much of our approach to how and why we hope educators incorporate multicultural teaching in the classroom, and the specific Latin American resources we offer here at Vamos a Leer.

Beyond Heroes and HolidaysIn today’s ¡Mira Look! I wanted to share one of my favorite teacher resource books, Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural, Education and Staff Development edited by Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart and Margo Okazawa-Rey. It’s an award winning educator’s guide that provides lessons and readings on topics such as how to analyze the roots of racism, investigate the impact of racism on all our lives, examine the relationship between racism and other forms of oppression such as sexism, classism, and heterosexism, and learn to work to dismantle racism in our schools, communities and the wider society.  Goodreads provides a great description of the book: Continue reading


Flickr Creative CommonsUser: PraveenbenK

Flickr Creative Commons
User: PraveenbenK

I have been a big fan of the TED talks for a while now. I think their combination of innovation, heart, imagination and information is unmatched in our age of pessimism, misinformation and discouragement. Given that, imagine my elation when my sister and brother-in-law turned me on to TED-ED, the TED site dedicated to teachers. Let me break down all the greatness that is TED-ED first, then highlight a few videos I think will be useful for your classroom discussion on race. Continue reading

¡Mira Look! Our next theme: Race in YA Literature

"Hopscotch Kids"--Flickr CC user Elvert Barnes

“Hopscotch Kids”
–Flickr CC user Elvert Barnes

As Katrina and I start our next theme of posts, ‘Race in YA Literature’, I want to spend today discussing race and giving you some resources for how to pinpoint and discuss racial stereotyping in text. Without getting too dogmatic, I want to stress the importance of discussing race with our kids. Race is a socially constructed concept used to categorize and create hierarchy among people. There is nothing biological about it, that is just an argument used to make it seem grounded in science and therefore true. Continue reading