Sobre Noviembre: Resources for Teaching about Latinx Food as Culture and Heritage

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Dear all,

We’re wrapping up our discussion of loss and resolution here at Vamos a Leer and turning our thoughts to November, when we’ll begin to tune in, as many of you likely will, to the upcoming holidays. And the thought of winter celebrations is prompting us to think deeply about the importance of food. In the next few weeks we’re going metaphorically to sink our teeth into the discussion of how food expresses and reinforces cultural practices. We hope you’ll relish these resources as much as we’ve enjoy gathering them.

As always, let us know if you have ideas and resources! We welcome your input.

Best,
Keira

p.s. I couldn’t resist the puns! Sorry! 🙂

 

En la Clase: Día de los Muertos, Chants, and the Cooperative Sentence Strip Paragraph

Dia de los Muertos | ELL and GLAD Strategies | Vamos a LeerThis week’s post will wrap up my En la Clase posts on Día de los Muertos.  The activities I’ll talk about today are great ones for the end of a unit, especially the Cooperative Sentence Strip Paragraph.  Just in time, our complementary guide with ELL and GLAD strategies for teaching about Día de los Muertos is now available online (just scroll down to the end of the activities, they’re right below our art activities).  We’ve gotten great feedback from teachers about the materials, so be sure to check them out.  Before we start talking about today’s activities, I want to make sure you saw Charla’s WWW post from Friday.  She highlights one of my favorite animated short films about Día de los Muertos.  It’s really beautiful.  It communicates so much in such a short amount of time and without a single word of dialogue! It’s perfect for classroom use.

Now, on to chants.  Chants are a fun way to engage students while encouraging language fluency and reinforcing important ideas, concepts, and vocabulary.  They can be adapted for any grade level and only take 10 or 15 minutes a day, maybe even less. Below I’ve shared the beginning of a chant our amazing graduate student bloggers Charla, Kalyn, and Alice created especially for Día de los Muertos. You can download the entire chant along with two others here. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Prietita and the Ghost Woman

“Though we tremble bChildren's Book Review: Prietita and the Ghost Woman by Gloria Anzaldúa | Vamos a Leerefore uncertain futures/ may we meet illness, death and adversity with strength/ may we dance in the face of our fears.”
― Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Saludos, everyone! This week I will be reviewing another rendition of the Hispanic legend of La Llorona, continuing to draw from this month’s themes. Our featured book for the week is Prietita and the Ghost Woman, written by Gloria Anzaldúa and illustrated by Christina Gonzalez. Anzaldúa creates a feminist adaptation of the Hispanic legend by featuring strong, female protagonists, and portraying La Llorona as a benevolent spirit, rather than a haunting ghost. The female relationships in the story are loving and respectful, and women of all different ages look out for each other in a lovely constellation of female alliances.

Children's Book Review: Prietita and the Ghost Woman by Gloria Anzaldúa | Vamos a LeerThe story is written in English with a Spanish translation on each page, as well as Spanish words peppered throughout the English text. When interspersing Spanish words, Anzaldúa has taken care to provide translations or context clues for English-language readers. For example, when Prietita asks Doña Lola for help, Doña Lola replies, “I’m sorry, mijita, I’m sorry, my child, but I’ve used up all the ruda I had and none of the neighbors grow it.Continue reading

En la Clase: Día de los Muertos and Pictorial Input Charts

Today I’m sharing another GLAD (Pictorial Input Chart | Dia de los Muertos | Vamos a LeerGuided Language Acquisition Design) inspired strategy for teaching about Día de los Muertos.  But first, if you missed Alice’s post on Monday, be sure to check out her review of Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead.  It’s a really interesting book about Día de los Muertos and the the migration of monarch butterflies in Mexico–quite unique in terms of children’s literature about the celebration.

Last week I wrote about how to use a Cognitive Content Dictionary Chart as part of a unit on Día de los Muertos.  Today we’re going to talk about Pictorial Input Charts.  In this activity the teacher creates a large poster with important content knowledge overlaid on an image relevant to the unit or topic of study.  As you can see from the picture above, the content information is chunked or categorized with sub-headings.  If you’re studying multiple traditions or celebrations throughout the year, these categories could be used for all of them.  This would provide some consistency from unit to unit.  Typically, in preparation for the activity, the teacher would lightly trace the image and information on a large sheet of white butcher paper.  When it’s time to begin, the teacher hangs the butcher paper poster on the board and begins coloring parts of the image and tracing over the content information she/he had already written in, while presenting the information to the class.  When using this strategy, teachers want to follow the concept of 10:2 teaching: for every 10 minutes of direct instruction, students are given 2 minutes to discuss with the class, a partner, their table group, etc. the information that has just been presented. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead

Children's Book Review: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman | Vamos a LeerSaludos, everyone! As I shared last week, we’ve drawn upon Día de los Muertos happening at the end of this month as an opportunity to reflect on the loss of loved ones. In accordance with that, this week I will be reviewing Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead, written by Judy Goldman and illustrated by René King Moreno. This book is best for grades 1-5, and will teach readers a valuable lesson on love and loss, while they journey through the seasonal traditions of a small, Mexican village.

Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead is written entirely in English, though it is rich in Mexican cultural heritage, focusing as it does on the traditions of Día de los Muertos. At the back of the book, for instance, Goldman includes a list of Spanish terms and their definitions, including mole, “a rich, dark sauce made with, among other things, peanuts, chilies, tomatoes, and chocolate”, and cempazuchitl, “a type of marigold”, usually used to decorate altars for the dead. She also includes a page explaining the cultural significance of this Mexican holiday: “Many Mexicans believe that the souls of those who have died return on those days, and they are lovingly remembered by family and friends… Día de muertos is a time of fun, remembrance, and love.” This book is not only a great resource for teaching children about significant cultural traditions, but also for explaining the reality of death in a gentle and comforting way.

Children's Book Review: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman | Vamos a LeerThe story starts with a little girl, Lupita, running to her elderly uncle, Tío Urbano, to tell him that the monarch butterflies have arrived for the season. Lupita and Tío Urbano exit the house to admire the marvelous monarchs, and bask in the bitter-sweet memories that they bring each fall. Tío Urbano reminds Lupita of the familiar admonition that you must never capture or hurt a monarch butterfly, “for they are the souls of the dead ones, who have come back to visit us before Día de Muertos.” Tío Urbano explains to Lupita why Día de Muertos should not be a sad day, but rather a day to remember loved ones who’ve passed, and the good times spent with them: “Never be afraid of the dead, for those who loved us can never hurt us. We will always miss them, and this is why it is a blessing to receive the butterflies before Día de Muertos, when we show our dead that they are treasured and not forgotten.” Lupita and Tío Urbano spend a moment together fixated on the mesmerizing, undulating swarm of orange and black, remembering their loved ones who are no longer with them.

The illustChildren's Book Review: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman | Vamos a Leerrations, done with soft colored pencils, complement the story’s soothing tone. My favorite image is one of Lupita and Tío Urbano staring up at the canopies of coniferous trees, with hundreds of butterflies flying through the shady maze. The forest resembles the pine-oak forests in Mexico, where a biosphere reserve was created to protect this transient species. The monarch butterflies migrate from North America down to these Mexican forests during the colder months, and then back to the US when it warms again. They are the only known butterfly to make a two-part migration the way that birds do. According to Annenberg Learner, “People in the region have noticed the arrival of monarchs since pre-Hispanic times.” This symbol has long been a part of Mexican culture and tradition. People all over the country associate the monarch butterflies with Día de los Muertos.

In recognizing the monarch butterflies as reincarnations of the dead, and emphasizing the sacredness of these butterflies, this story also speaks to the importance of respecting and preserving nature and its habitats: “Lupita nodded and said, ‘I must never capture or hurt a monarch’.” The monarch butterflies’ seasonal habitat is currently threatened by climate change, as the increase in winter precipitation risks freezing the butterflies’ wings while they lay dormant. By teaching Lupita about the different ways of honoring loved ones, Tío Urbano also instructs her on a similar respect due to the environment.

Children's Book Review: Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman | Vamos a LeerOnce Lupita and Tío Urbano enter the house, Lupita starts helping her parents prepare for the festivities of Día de Muertos, while her uncle sits and rests. As she does so, the reader learns about the different traditions that accompany this holiday, such as putting up an altar to commemorate the dead with family photos, candles, and sugar statues of skulls, and making food that they “liked in life, and would now enjoy in spirit.” Lupita and her parents set up an arch of cempazuchtil flowers and string rows of colorful papel picado from one end of the living room to the other. Lupita also uses the cempazuchtil flowers to make a path of  petals leading up to the house to guide the dead (the strong scent of the flowers is said to guide the spirits home). As Lupita dedicates herself to welcoming the deceased back into the lives of the living, she learns a great deal about the meaning of the holiday. This proves to be an invaluable lesson later on, when she is confronted with the death of a loved one for the first time.

I loved this book, and I think it does an excellent job of radiating peace, tranquility, and comfort. This is a perfect book for any child who wants to learn about Mexican traditions or who is struggling with the loss of a loved one.

Because Moreno and Goldman do such a lovely job speaking about the metaphor and migration of the monarch butterflies, we’ve found a few resources to expand on that topic:

• A video of monarch butterfly migrations
• More on monarch butterflies and climate change
• René King Moreno website
• Judy Goldman blog

Visit the LAII’s website to view and download our complete thematic guide for teaching about Día de los Muertos.

Also, don’t forget to check out Charla’s post on the Monarch butterfly migration!

Stay tuned for more great books!
¡Hasta pronto!
Alice


Modified from illustration, Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead, pages 8, 10, 12

 

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

En la Clase: The Cognitive Content Dictionary~ Teaching Vocabulary through Día de los Muertos

As Keira mentioned in her Sobre Octubre post, one of our themes for this month is Día de los Muertos.  Charla, Alice, Kalyn, and I will all be sharing different resources you can use to teach about this celebration in your classroom.  We’ve accumulated a number of posts on the topic over the past couple of years.  You can check them all out by clicking on the Día de los Muertos button in the right hand sidebar of the blog’s home page.  As we mention frequently on the blog, while we are strong advocates for multicultural education, we believe that it must be done in a way that goes beyond heroes and holidays.  In our Día de los Muertos Curriculum Guide we’ve created lesson plans and activities that focus on teaching both cultural content and literacy skills in such a way that students will engage with the concept of Día de los Muertos on more than a superficial level.

En la Clase: The Cognitive Content Dictionary~ Teaching Vocabulary through Dia de los Muertos | Vamos a Leer BlogEach year we try and add something new to our Día de los Muertos materials.  This year we’re adding a complementary set of materials that focuses on activities that can support ELL students in the classroom (but, in my experience, are just great strategies that engage all students).  We’re sharing this complementary guide at a professional development workshop on Saturday.  I’ll share a link to all of those materials next Wednesday.  For now, I thought I’d give you a preview of one of my favorite activities for teaching vocabulary: the cognitive content dictionary (CCD) chart.  This isn’t specific to Día de los Muertos or any other topic, so it can be used to teach vocabulary for any subject area.  If you plan on teaching about various cultural celebrations throughout the year, it can be a great way to connect the various celebrations through a shared vocabulary lesson.  It can be especially helpful as a way to review vocabulary that comes up throughout various units, such as celebration, culture, tradition, etc.  It’s a strategy that comes from Project GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design).  I know we’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but if GLAD is new to you, here’s more information taken from the Project GLAD website: Continue reading

Sobre Octubre: Resources on Día de los Muertos, Remembering, and Celebrating

Sobre Octubre: Resources on Día de los Muertos, Remembering, and CelebratingHi, everyone,

I’m here to wrap up our September focus on “Resources to Honor and Understand Latin American Influences,” and introduce you to the themes we’ll be tackling in October: Día de los Muertos, remembering, and celebrating.

Before I talk about our upcoming month, I have to acknowledge that we’re still smack dab in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), and here at Vamos a Leer remain caught in a love-hate relationship with it.  Even while HHM promotes the discussion about Latin@/Hispanic culture, it minimizes the conversation to stereotypes and relegates the information to one month out of the year, effectively communicating to students that Latin@/Hispanic heritage offers a “break” from the real curriculum; it’s apart from authenticate knowledge. There are many, many reasons why this is problematic. Katrina has discussed some of them on the blog, joining other educators such as Enid Lee and Deborah Menkart who advocate for a “beyond heroes and holidays” approach to education. In short, she’s advocated for a classroom where discussions of other cultures are not limited to one month out of the year, but instead are integrated meaningfully throughout the curriculum.

But we’re not suggesting dismissing HHM completely. Instead, much like readers who responded to a recent poll on “How do you feel about Hispanic Heritage Month? Tell us” organized by LatinoUSA, we suggest that HHM is “what you make of it.” Let’s use this an opportunity to start (or better, continue!) meaningful conversations about Latin@/Hispanic heritage, but conversations unfettered by the arbitrary dates of Sept. 15 – Oct. 15. Continue reading

En la Clase: Día de los Muertos and Teaching about Cultural Celebrations

Vamos a Leer | En la clase: Día de los Muertos and Teaching About Cultural CelebrationsFor many classroom teachers, cultural celebrations are one of the easiest ways to address standards connected to cultural competence through introducing and studying different cultures and their traditions. Yet, just because we celebrate various multicultural holidays or heroes doesn’t mean we’re practicing authentic multicultural teaching.  If our teaching never moves beyond what many refer to as multicultural tourism, we’re not providing our students the opportunity to think deeply or critically.  I won’t go into more detail on the topic here, as we discussed the problems with multicultural tourism in greater depth in the post “Around the World in 180 Days Part IV: Holidays and Celebrations.Continue reading

En la Clase: Teaching about Quinceañeras

As many of you know, our featured book for this month is Estrella’s Quinceañera by Malín Alegría.  As I was reading Alegría’s book and doing the research for our Educator’s Guide, I realized I’d never really thought much about quinceañeras, even though they’re an important cultural celebration for many.  While we’ve written a great deal here on the blog about other cultural traditions or celebrations and how to teach about them in the classroom, we seem to have neglected this one!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/valkyrieh116/5295327884/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Photo taken by valkyrieh116’s
Courtesy of flickr creative commons

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