WWW: Resources for Teaching about the Border


Photo from Flickr CC user: Wonderlane

UNM’s Latin American and Iberian Institute previously hosted a K-12 professional development workshop on teaching about the US-Mexico border. Keira and Katrina created an accompanying online resource for educators that I have personally found to be extremely helpful for understanding the complexity of the region.

Resources for Teaching about the Border is a gateway to dozens of carefully crafted K-12 lesson plans that were created by the Kellogg Institute, the Bracero History Archive, New Mexico State University’s Center for Latin American & Border Studies, Teaching Tolerance, and dozens of other reputable organizations.

Lesson plans cover diverse border issues in the areas of history, economics, immigration, media, and physical landscapes. Some examples include: Continue reading


Book Review: Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood–Our Mexican Graffiti

"Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood," written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood is the story of one teenage boy’s coming-of-age, but at the same time, it’s so much more than that.  Denise Chávez explains, “Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood is our American Graffiti. No, that’s not right. It’s our Mexican Graffiti.”  It’s a statement about life—life as a Mexican teenager living in a small town in the United States in the late 1960s.  Sammy Santos lives in the Hollywood barrio of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The novel is the story of his senior year of high school—the year he must deal with the violent death of his girlfriend, the reality of the enduring poverty of his family, the racist policies of his high school, and the consequences of the Vietnam War.  While set in the 1960s, it’s a book that I believe will speak strongly to our students today.  In fact, I wish I had read this book sooner, before my years as a middle school teacher.  I saw older versions of my students in its pages. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Bless Me, Última Turns Forty in 2012

The UNM English Department’s blog takes note that Rudulfo Anaya’s famous novel, Bless Me, Última, turns forty this year.  They write, too, ” if that’s not enough reason to celebrate, the film version of the novel is scheduled for release in 2012 as well.  Just last month Rudolfo Anaya received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the L.A. Times and among other things, the Times cited his debut novel, Bless Me, Ultima, as “the most widely read and critically acclaimed novel in the Chicano literary canon.”  They will be celebrating Anaya’s work and this  remarkable novel by staging a Reading Marathon on Monday, April 23, 2012.  If you’re in the Albuquerque area, I encourage you to be a part.  Rudolfo Anaya himself will read the final page when the event concludes at 5:00p.m.

I assume there’s little to tell you about Bless Me, Última.  Most of you have probably read it.  But on the off-chance that you haven’t already picked up this novel by Anaya, allow me to urge you now.  In my words: the novel is enchanting, mesmerizing, and inspiring with writing that is at once powerfully blunt and lyrical.  In the words of whoever it is who writes for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) The Big Read program, the novel is “A great book [that] combines enlightenment with enchantment.  It awakens our imagination and enlarges our humanity.  It can even offer harrowing insights that somehow console and comfort us.”  On a more concrete level, it’s a novel about a young boy’s coming-of-age, his internal conflicts over faith and tradition, authority and independence, family and community.

If you haven’t read the novel yet, I encourage you to check it out from your local library and then go back to the NEA’s website, where you’ll find a Readers Guide, Teacher’s Guide, Audio Guide, Films, and information in Spanish. Everything you need (and then some) is there to help you delve deeply into the book.  Or you can do what I did – decide it’s finally time to sit down, grab the book from the shelf, and immerse yourself in silence for a few hours.  Either way, I imagine you won’t regret it.