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The Heritage of Puerto Rico and Cuba, by Antonia Coughlin

Guide Entry to 89.03.02:

Each year teachers are asked to plan relevant lessons celebrating Hispanic American History. The intention of this unit is to be a beneficial source of instructional information, as well as of prepared lessons. The material can be modified to adapt to the motivation and achievement levels of various groups by adjusting the skill work and evaluation assessments.

The Hispanic population in New Haven primarily have or have had ancestors migrate from Puerto Rico. All too often these students have little or no knowledge of their former country’s history and culture, or the reasons why so many have chosen to make the United States their home. To better facilitate the student’s awareness of Puerto Rico’s uniqueness, the unit includes a comparative study of Puerto Rico and Cuba and its relation to the rest of the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico and Cuba have rich and colorful personalities. Their histories, once intertwined, have taken distinctly different paths. To better understand these transformations and diverse identities it is necessary to analyze the political, historic, economic, social, and cultural events. Needless to say, it would be impossible to incorporate every detailed incident in this unit. Instead, the unit will present an overall survey of each history from Spanish colonization, with special emphasis on relevant historical data, combined with a sampling of native writers’ works. The works chosen are by Miguel Barnet, Jose Marti, Bernardo Vega, and Rosario Ferre.

“The Heritage of Puerto Rico and Cuba” was developed for students in New Haven, grades seven through twelve. The unit covers topics that the students can identify with and relate to, thus facilitating a learning through association technique. Another aim of the unit is to incorporate material that the students will consider “easy” as well as “difficult.” This will enable the students to experience enough success so that when the challenges of the more complicated material develop they will not be discouraged.

The unit has been divided into three sections: The Contributions of Latin American Culture in the United States, The Histories of Puerto Rico and Cuba, and Writers and Their Times. This will enable the educator to use the material sectionally or in its entirety.

(Recommended for History, Social Studies, English and Spanish classes, grades 7-12)

Key Words

Bilingualism Spanish English Puerto Rico Cuba History Cuban Rican Hispanic Literature Latin American Foreign Language

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