En la Clase: A Review of Separate is Never Equal

Vamos a Leer |Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh | Book ReviewFor this week’s En la Clase, I’m sharing our review of Separate is Never Equal, one of this year’s Americas Award Winners.  It’s a great book to explore themes of love of self, love of family, and love of community, while also teaching about an often overlooked but important piece of the Civil Rights Movement.

In next week’s En la Clase, I’ll share the free educator’s guide created for the book.

Separate is Never Equal
Written and Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
Published by Harry N. Abrams, 2014
ISBN: 1419710540
Age Level: 7-12


Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

My Thoughts

Vamos a Leer |Separate is Never Equal by Duncan TonatiuhThere are a number of reasons why Duncan Tonatiuh’s book, Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, is so important. In writing it, he did something that no one else has. No other children’s picture book on the Mendez case exists. Moreover, the book is well-researched and compellingly illustrated. By drawing on primary source documents, court transcripts, and interviews with Sylvia Mendez herself, Tonatiuh has created an important historical book for younger and older children alike. Continue reading


Sobre Enero: Resources on Latin@ Civil Rights, Social Justice, and Youth Activism

Vamos a Leer | Resources on Latin@ Civil Rights, Social Justice, and Youth ActivismFeliz año nuevo a tod@s.

We’re glad to be back after a rejuvenating winter break and excited to engage in new conversations with you! We begin the year by focusing on issues of civil rights and social justice that are meaningful to people everywhere, but particularly relevant to Latin@ and Latin American communities. This month we focus not only on how to teach young people about injustices, but more importantly offer ideas for how they can take a stand against it. In the next few weeks we’ll discuss how children and youth can push back against prejudice and discrimination in their lives and in broader society.

Our dedicated bloggers will tackle the question in a few ways:

  • Alice, our children’s book reviewer, will focus on books that profile child activists who face and combat issues such as poverty and immigration rights
  • Katrina, our En la Clase expert, will look at Latin@ children’s literature and how it can be used to teach about civil rights and to encourage student activism
  • Charla, our WWW researcher, will share resources related to art through activism and children as activists.

Continue reading

Local Event with Rethinking Schools! Rethinking the Lines Between Us: Multicultural Education and Social Justice

2015-04-09-Rethinking-Schools-EveningWe are so excited for next week’s evening session with Rethinking Schools! Join the LAII for a participatory evening event in which Rethinking Schools editors Wayne Au, Bill Bigelow, and Linda Christensen will demonstrate ways that they engage students in critical, multicultural education for social justice. They will explore the implications of this kind of teaching in the era of the Common Core standards and tests. 

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En la Clase: Mendez vs. Westminster~Separate is not Equal

mendez-v-westminster-stampEarlier in the semester we highlighted a series of early education lesson plans that focused on teaching about diversity, race, difference and acceptance.  Today’s En la Clase highlights a middle/high school unit plan that discusses many of the same things.  The unit plan “Mendez vs. Westminster: Separate is not Equal” was written by Megan Cox, a pre-service teacher in UNM’s Teacher Education Program. As Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th, I thought this was the perfect time to share Cox’s unit here on Vamos a Leer.  Mendez vs. Westminster preceded Brown vs. the Board of Education.  While not as well known as Brown, it was an important case and many have said it laid a great deal of the groundwork for Brown.  The following taken from Teaching Tolerance offers some background on the case:  Continue reading

En la Clase: Celebrating Differences and Similarities-Exploring Identity

Today’s “En la Clase” is our last in a series of featured early elementary lesson plans whoever you areon topics such as teaching about race, culture, difference, acceptance, and respect.  If you missed them, be sure to check out the last two weeks’ posts on “Everybody is Unique: Teaching Respect in a Racially Diverse Classroom” and “Multiculturalism: Learning About Different Cultures.”

This week’s unit, “Celebrating Differences and Similarities: Exploring Identity,” was written by Michelle White, a pre-service teacher in UNM’s Teacher Education Program.  Her lessons were written primarily for kindergarten students, but could be easily adapted for grades 1-3.  Like the other units, White’s lessons are perfect for the first part of the school year, offering an introduction to themes and issues that can continue to be explored through the year. Written as they are, the art activities are also great practice for our young students on following directions. Continue reading

En la Clase: “In the Wake of Juarez”–Art as Social Justice

Art by Alice Leora Briggs

Alice Leora Briggs, Abecedario de Juárez, 2010, Sgraffito on 32 wood panels. Collection of the Artist, Courtesy of Etherton Gallery, Tucson, AZ

In last week’s En la Clase post, I shared one of the lessons from our curriculum materials created for the professional development workshop “In the Wake of Juárez–Teaching Politics through Art”.  The workshop was based upon the current exhibition of Alice Leora Briggs’ work: “In the Wake of Juárez.”  In the workshop we discussed the significance of Briggs’ work and how and why we should implement projects like Briggs’ in the classroom. For those of you who aren’t local, Briggs’ images can be viewed at http://aliceleorabriggs.com (click on the artworks tab). Continue reading

En la Clase: “In the Wake of Juárez–Teaching Politics, Art, and Poetry”

El cholito

El Cholito by Alice Leora Briggs

Our most recent event was the professional development workshop for educators, “In the Wake of Juárez: Teaching Politics through Art.”  Held at the UNM Art Museum, the workshop had two purposes: first, to engage with Alice Leora Briggs’ exhibit “In the Wake of Juárez” and then to discuss how to implement it in the classroom.  We’ll be posting a link to our entire curriculum guide for the workshop soon, but I wanted to share part of our curriculum with you today, as it is a poetry based lesson that would be perfect for National Poetry Month. Continue reading

Local Event for Teachers! In the Wake of Juárez: Teaching Politics through Art

Art by Alice Leora Briggs

Abedecario de Juárez by Alice Leora Briggs

We are very excited to announce the Latin American and Iberian Institute’s next workshop for the spring term! And it’s another art-based event! “In the Wake of Juarez: Teaching Politics through Art” will take place on Tuesday March 26, 2013, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. in the UNM Art Museum.

Participants will first engage with the subject and technique of the museums’ exhibition, “In the Wake of Juárez: The Drawings of Alice Leora Briggs,” and then discuss how to implement it in the classroom.  This event is recommended only for teachers of grades 9-12 given the content of the artwork, though all are welcome to attend. Continue reading