This is a four to six week unit designed to introduce students to the history of Blacks and Puerto Ricans who migrated into the Northeastern United States in search of the great “American Dream”. This unit will begin with the era of slavery and culminate in the twentieth century. Students will become familiar with the history and culture of each group, the nature of prejudice as it relates to a group of people, and understand the relationship of each group to the larger community. The goal in this study is for students to become aware of similarities and differences between two groups of minorities (Blacks and Puerto Ricans) who struggled to survive in a society where they were deemed outsiders who were inherently inferior.
This unit may be taught to learning disabled students and also 5th and 6th graders encompassed in a regular education program. Most learning disabled students will read from a first to third grade level. For this reason both reading and writing assignments must be carefully chosen and planned.
This unit will be divided into two mayor parts with each subdivision becoming a lesson depending on the teacher, the availability of time, and student interest. Incorporated into the unit presentation is the use of filmstrips, video tapes, and field trips. As a culminating activity the students will present a “bicultural” display for the learning center. (NOTE: Teachers may plan this unit around the following holidays, Black History Month, Puerto Rican Discovery Month, or International Day).
Lesson I. (Day I)
The Afro-American Experience In America
Objective I and II.
To identify the three major geographical areas and list or discuss the economic issues that made Africa and Puerto Rico valuable to America.
Objective II. To identify and state problems of economic, social and political significance that directly affected blacks and Puerto Ricans in their efforts to assimilate into the American culture.
Strategy: The students will view two filmstrips. A discussion will follow each filmstrip. The recommended filmstrips are “Up From Slavery” and “The Immigrant”.
After introducing the topic orally the teacher will prepare students to learn by stating and writing the definition of “slavery” and “immigrant”. Next, he/she will state several questions that the students will be expected to know. This will give them a direction in which to focus their attention while viewing the filmstrip, and attending to oral and written presentations. This activity should stimulate comprehension, critical thinking, and foster oral communication skills. The questions are as follows:
-What does the term slavery or immigrant mean as it applies to the filmstrip?
-Who were the immigrants?
-List three facts learned about the people and countries from which the immigrants came.
-What made this country important to America?
After viewing the filmstrip the teacher will direct the class discussion, incorporating the previously discussed questions.
Issues From Slavery Through Reconstruction:
To identify and state problems of economic, social, and political significance that directly affected
Blacks and Puerto Ricans
in their effort to assimilate into the American culture.
Unit outline and booklet on the history of the black and Puerto Rican experience. Students will also need paper and pencils. Students will place all materials in a designated folder.
Two weeks will be devoted to learning about each culture’s history and culminate with the assimilation process in New York, with emphasis on the economic, social, and political ramifications. The Afro-American culture will be discussed first with the Puerto Rican culture following.
The students will read orally, list and discuss the reasons why slavery was allowed to exist, how it was important to the well-being of a nation, and how it affected the people who participated in this form of exploitation, (slaves, owners, importers, and on-lookers or nonparticipants).
1. The class will read orally the first three or four pages from their unit booklet, and discuss any new terms as they appear.
2. The teacher will pose questions that raise issues for discussion.
3. Students will list reasons why slavery prospered as an American institution. The teacher will write the list on the board separating it into categories (Economic, Social and Political).
4. The students will copy the list and use it for later reference. (NOTE: The teacher will have students place this list and all other materials in a specially prepared folder.)
Cultural conflicts of assimilation
To increase student sensitivity to the sacrifices, economic hardships, and social degradation experienced as the
Puerto Rican Culture
struggled to overcome oppression.
The teacher will direct the oral reading and discussion of the second half of the unit on Puerto Rico (week 3 and 4). The teacher may incorporate into the unit the use of both historical and literary materials. The use of pictures, exerts from narratives, poems and short stories may be used. In reinforcing the literary aspects, the teacher may share the book
, by Pedro Pietri, and
Memoirs of Bernardo Vega
, by Cesar Andreu Iglesias. Teachers may also incorporate at this time a filmstrip or a guest speaker.
1. Students will read from their booklets the historical account of cultural conflicts encountered in the assimilation of Puerto Ricans in New York. The teacher will then lead students in a discussion of the material read.
2. The teacher will then ask students to list cultural differences that called for adjustment and/or changes in getting along in the home, school, community and work force. The teacher will make a list on the chalkboard and students will copy them for references or to be used at the end of the unit as a study guide.
3. The teacher will give each student a copy of several poems by Pedro Pietri (pages 22 and 116). Students will read and discuss these poems. This activity should encourage critical thinking skills, value judgment, and emphasize oral expression skills. The teacher will try to elicit responses to the questions: What motivated the author to write these poems? What do you think the author saw happening around him that influenced his writing? What message was the author attempting to voice?
4. The second day may be spent reviewing short narratives from Cesar Andreu Iglesias’ book
Memoirs of Bernardo Vega