En la Clase: What My Calavera Did at Night


skeletons 2As many of you  already know, literacy is one of my favorite ways to integrate cultural content, like Día de los Muertos, into a standards based curriculum.  Not only does it reinforce the reading or writing skills that we work on throughout the year, it’s also a way to help ensure that we don’t fall into that trap of the “Tourist” approach to multicultural education.  Too often when we teach this kind of cultural content, it appears to our students that we’re taking  a break from our ‘real’ curriculum to do something fun.  While these units can and should be fun, it shouldn’t appear that they’re not authentic and important parts of our curriculum.  By combining this content with types of literacy activities done throughout the year, students don’t see these projects as less important than any others.

For today’s En la Clase, I’ve adapted a unit I typically used with my students when we returned to school in January.  Many of you may be familiar with the book Snowmen at Night.  In this story, a boy imagines what  his snowman does at night while he’s sleeping.  My students would make their own very large snowperson, then write a story about what their snowperson did at night.  For my younger students, this was a project where I could introduce how to use a brainstorming web for a multi-paragraph paper, with each section of the web representing a different paragraph.  For older students, it was practice for skills that they’d already learned.  Hesitant writers were often excited and engaged by creating their snowperson before any of the writing began. Continue reading


Local Events!! Día de los Muertos

????????????????????????????????????????Fall is always a busy time and this year is no different!!  There are some great Día de los Muertos events coming up that provide excellent opportunities for teachers.

Join the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute(LAII) as we explore the history of Día de los Muertos in two different workshops designed specifically for educators. Continue reading

En la Clase: A Year of Mask-Making

Image from http://bottlejarboxcan.blogspot.com /2011/08/paper-bag-mask_07.html

Image from http://bottlejarboxcan.blogspot.com

Often when I talk about how much I love bringing art (like mask-making) into the classroom, I get the response “There’s no time for fun activities like that anymore.” Comments like that used to make me sad, and while they still elicit that response, I’ve also found myself feeling a little angry.  It just seems so defeatist.  It’s an excuse to give up the agency that we do have as teachers, that we should be fighting to hold on to (as many of the teachers I know are).  I’m not denying that the landscape of the classroom is changing.  I know the amount of time it takes to do all the testing required through the year.  I even added it up once–I spent close to two months worth of school days testing the last year I taught 3rd grade.  I know there’s increasing pressure to cover even more material in shorter amounts of time.  I’ve read about the moves to tie teacher pay and evaluations to student performance.  But, it’s for all of these reasons that I think it’s even more important that we include those “fun” activities, like art, in the classroom.  Continue reading