Archives For Race and ethnicity in the United States Census

To help students broaden their cross-cultural knowledge base, I created a Hispanic Hero/Heroine game. I used it with a third grade library class but feel free to adapt it for different ages or for family use.

The unit had a number of objectives. Some were just to review. Some involved practice or mastery of common-core or information-literacy skills. And, of course, exposure to windows and mirrors content.

I wanted students to:

  • Understand a biography is a true account about a person’s life.
  • Read for the main idea
  • Identify keywords in the text
  • Use keywords to extrapolate the main idea
  • Learn how to turn facts into questions
  • Explore interviewing skills
  • Gain information about a particular person in a particular cultural experience.

Here’s an overview of the second lesson in the unit. ( See the first lesson in this post – list all people you know personally or otherwise who are of Hispanic descent).

  1. I gave each student their own mini biography  (a paragraph long) that I printed from Scholastic’s site for Discovery History Makers.
  2. I removed the name, and the job description for each person and created a fill in the blank. My name is…. I am a famous…. or I am famous for being a……. To download my template click here.
  3. Students read the biography and identified the person about whom they were reading.
  4. Students then highlighted keywords that were repeated over and over or had variations mentioned in the text.
  5. The looked at the keywords and determined the main idea or why this person was famous.

Roberto Clemente: the first Puerto Rican to be voted Most Valuable Player in baseball

For example if a student read about Roberto Clemente, he or she may have underlined Major League Baseball, great fielder, great hitter, Most Valuable Player, Baseball Hall of Fame. Then he or she would have said Roberto Clemente is a famous baseball player.

The mini biographies ranged in complexity so I gave the more abstract professions to those who were ready for the challenge and thus allowed for success for a range of students.

Stay tuned for how kids prepared themselves to face the questions the classmate paparazzi prepared for each other.

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No matter your opinion on the Obamacare debate, there are unnatural causes of this country’s health crises that need fixing. So when the government shut down today,I felt compelled to take a hiatus from posting about Hispanic Heritage and instead share some startling statistics.

1)  Wealth equals Health

The single strongest predictor of your good health, is your position on the socioeconomic ladder. Your health is tied to your access to resources.  In other words, your zip code is the most powerful indicator of health!  Don’t believe me?  See how zip codes and class affects life expectancy in this map of Lousiville created by the filmmakers of the disturbing documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is inequality making us sick?

2) Inequity is bad for your Health

Fifty years ago, life expectancy in the U.S. ranked number one in the world. After the 1980’s widening of the economic gap, the U.S. ranks 29th. Today the top 1% own more than the combined ownership of the rest of the 90%. This makes us the most inequitable country.The U.S.  also has one of the worst health records.

3) More equity and longer lives for all

Countries like Sweden mitigate the difference between a family’s personal resources and equal access to the country’s resources. They make health care available to both the affluent and to those who work hard to make ends meet. Their citizens live longer and healthier lives than those in the U.S.

4)  Your neighborhood can change your life.

White neighborhoods have 4 times as many supermarkets and access to fruits and vegetables than Black and Latino areas. These communities are zoned in ways that there are more liquor stores and fast food franchises than the white neighborhoods. They also have higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and higher blood pressure.

5) There are lessons in the “Latino Paradox”

New Latino immigrants to the U.S. upon arrival have better health than most of the U.S. Population. However, after a mere five years of living in the U.S. their health declines. Within a generation they will be 50% more likely to develop high blood pressure and other health risk factors.

6) Sickness and in Wealth

People in the highest income groups can expect to live at least 61/2 years longer than those in the lowest income bracket. College graduates live five years loner than those who do not finish high school They also live two years more than those who have not finished college.

7) Sick Day or Pay Day

The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t require employers to provide sick leave. 47% of private sector workers are faced with the choice of a sick day or a pay day. Which choice would you or do you make?

8) Third World Health is better

Many African Americans and Native Americans are less likely to reach the age of sixty-five than their counterpart in Bangladesh or Ghana.

9) It’s a tough ladder to climb

3 out of the 4 Americans who, in the 1980’s, started at the lowest rung of the income ladder, are still there.

What are you going to ask your doctor or politician today?

Watch the powerful documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is inequality making us sick? Or examine their comprehensive website to learn more about how class, immigration status, and where you live can change your health.

It’s embarrassing how little I know about Hispanic contributions. You can see below in my own answers to the question I posed earlier this week. (Click for the original post)

I attribute my ignorance to several things.

1)     I didn’t have a lot of Hispanic history or Latino literature taught to me in school.  Let me correct myself. I don’t remember any!

2)     I live in a part of the country where the Hispanic culture and heritage is not prevalent.

3)     I get news from sources that inherently can’t cover every story. So what one organization choses to include or not, shapes my understanding of current events.

4)     I view the world through a certain lens. My lens has been formed by my upbringing, my heritage, my education, my location, my circumstances, etc. So I filter information through that perspective.

All of these contributing factors often remain unconscious. Unless, I make an effort to find out what viewpoints I am missing, or who’s story I haven’t heard, I will continue to have a narrow and less rich connection with all those with whom I share this planet. And why would I want of that?

So I continue to find as many windows and mirrors as I can. I continue to seek out multiple stories and multiple perspectives. That helps me understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes while deepening my understanding of the world.

Maybe, one day I can also fill in such a list for all the wonderful different human experiences that exist.

Until then, here are my answers and my gaps. Follow the links to learn more about the individuals I named, or wait until next time when I’ll share who they are and what resources you can use with children.

Congress Women

Writer: Julia Alvarez

Picture Book Illustrator: David Díaz

Astronaut:

Nobel Prize Winner

Basketball Player

Union Leader: Cesar Chavez

Senator

Mayor

Governor

Actor

Singer/Musician: Jennifer Lopez

Community Organizer

United States Surgeon

Golfer

Artist: Frieda Kahlo

Baseball Player: Roberto Clemente

 

How much do you know? Can you name a Hispanic individual in any of  the following categories. But wait. Stop. This isn’t a test of your research skills. Can you do it without asking a friend? Without looking it up on the Internet? Without using your best research tool, aka, your local librarian?

No cheating now. See how many categories you can fill.

Congress Women

Writer

Picture Book Illustratorred-question-mark-circle-clip-art_428358

Astronaut

Nobel Prize Winner

Basketball Player

Union Leader

Senator

Mayor

Governor

Actor

Singer/Musician

Community Organizer

United States Surgeon

Golfer

Artist

Baseball Player

These are just a few to get you started. Do you notice any patterns? Do you think a child under 18 would have different answers? Why? Why not?

Do you have more general knowledge in one area than another? Why do you think that’s so? Do you have lots of gaps? How long did it take you to answer? (You can be honest – at least to yourself.) How did you feel about your answers?

Feel free to share you answers in the comments below.

Share what you know about that person if you know more than a name. If you can, identify that person’s family ancestry or cultural heritage.  If you feel comfortable sharing your own ethnicity, please do. How do you think this does or does not  influences your knowledge base?

How did you learn about this person? Were you taught it in the educational system? Do you think you should have been? Could you answer these same questions if they were for a different cultural group? Could you answer all of them if you were thinking about White European Americans? Why do you think you answered the way you did?

Obviously, this exercise is meant to be thought provoking rather than let’s try and pass the test. (Though do keep an eye out for answers in the next post!) What did you just discover?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Today I asked my third graders if they could name anyone of Hispanic descent. They could list a someone they knew personally, a person from history, or a figure from pop culture.

Their lists weren’t long. In fact. Most were blank.

I wasn’t surprised given the community in which I teach. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for first hand encounters. And so my work begins. Unless I or other adults explicitly have conversations about the rich Hispanic heritage, history, and accomplishment, their lists will remain short.

It was time to lead the children to find stories. My third graders are fairly good at knowing how to solve information problems. So they eagerly rose to the challenge of using the library catalog to find biographies.

I recommend keywords – in this case, search terms like Latino/Latina, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Costa Rican, Dominican, Mexican-American, Chilean, etc. I remind students of the definitions of Hispanic and Latino/Latina. I also provide them with a few examples. This helps the class brainstorm more names to use in their searches.

One of the biographies that provided my readers with a window

The children know how to identify the call number of a book in their computer search. Then they use that to locate the book on the shelf. So they fly to the next step. Reading the book which offers them a window into new experiences, and a peek into an unfamiliar culture. I remind them that this is just one person’s particular story of being Hispanic and that like any group of people there are similarities and differences within that group as well as in comparison to another group.

Next week they will craft jeopardy type questions to post around the school to educate others within our community one story at a time.

Just a few weeks ago, you may have taken a moment to reflect on the great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the legacy of his “I have a dream speech.” But have you stopped to honor the work of a Mexican American civil rights leader, who almost 50 years ago this week, also changed the face of history?

On September 16th 1965, Cesar Chavez’s union joined with Filipino workers in the Delano Grape Strike and put in to motion the first agricultural strike to be successful in U.S. history. Chavez went on to be an iconic champion for Latino rights. He lead a peaceful 340-mile march, fasted for 25 days, organized boycotts, and served jail time, all of which eventually helped improve the life of thousands of migrant workers -a group with the longest working hours, lowest pay, and shortest life spans.

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez,  written by Kathleen Krulll  and  Yuyi Morales.

is a gorgeous picture book, both in its narration and its illustrations. This account of his life is worthy of multiple readings since it rich with themes of courage, perseverance, social justice, family, power dynamics and the hope that we all can create change.

For more wonderful ideas how to use this book click here, Yuyi Morales and

have created a fabulous guide.

May you enjoy it as much as I do.