As 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