What does it mean to be Hispanic? Is there a Hispanic identity? And if so, what races and ethnicities embrace the Hispanic identity?
As a high school Spanish teacher, I always think about including aspects of diverse cultural groups in my lessons about peoples from around the world. It is important not to exclude any major culture or ethnic group because I believe my students should be raised facing the highly diverse society that we all live in. However, because the Spanish language is spread among cultures and continents, I feel the need to emphasize cultural components of countries of the Hispanic world.
As an educator, I also value and extend towards each and every one of these societies since I personally value each as key to the growth of our students. For this reason, I am going to focus on the study of one of the most numerous immigration groups in the United States today: the Hispanic/Latino group. We will take a more detailed study of some of the countries that have had a stronger influence in the United States: Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Cuba. The students will also be learning about Guatemala, because of its cultural richness. Guatemala will also serve as a model on how students should present their PowerPoint lesson. I have chosen Guatemala because of its complexity: historically, artistically and culturally speaking. The students will be able to see how they can conduct serious research in order to teach their lesson. The approach to these countries is going to be a special one since we are going to develop some aspects from different points of view.
The unit is to be used at The Sound School Regional Vocational Aquaculture Center in New Haven. It is a unique small interdistrict magnet school with a hands-on marine education program, which seeks to prepare students for both college and the work place depending on the academic skills and desires of the student. The school enrolls students from New Haven and eighteen surrounding towns (about 60 percent of the students come from these suburban towns). The result is a racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse student body with a broad range of academic abilities in which we encourage students to be participants in the global, multi-cultural society by involving them in a wide based high school experience.
The unit "The Americas in America: Un Mar de Identidades" is being designed for my Spanish 4 students, who possess an Intermediate level on the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Performance Guidelines for K-12 learners. Therefore, most of them are able to:
-Express their own thoughts using sentences and strings of sentences when interacting on familiar topics in present times;
-Are understood by those accustomed to interacting with language learners;
-Use pronunciation and intonation patterns which can be understood by a native speaker accustomed to interact with language learners;
-Make false starts and pause frequently to search for words when interacting with others;
-Are able to meet practical writing needs such as short letters and notes by recombining learned vocabulary and structure demonstrating full control of present time and evidence of some control of other time frames.
The classes and the majority of the activities are intended to be held in Spanish most of the time but English will be utilized as is necessary. With proper modifications, the unit could also be taught in Spanish 3 or even Advanced Placement Spanish classes.
The material is designed to be covered within a period of 25-30 sessions which are from forty to seventy minutes in length. We have a rotational period system which changes everyday. The longer periods will enable the teacher to use various classroom materials such audiovisual devices. The average class size will be twenty or so, which is a perfect number for some of the "group classroom" activities I want the students to work on.
The primary purpose of the unit is to create a global consciousness and an international perspective in all the students through the study of identity, society and culture of some of the Hispanic countries that form what has been called the Americas. In order to meet this objective, I would like to focus on providing the students with the tools necessary to independently complete a major research project, being able to express their own perspective rather than repeat other author's opinions, and enabling them to plan and teach a class to their classmates.
Students will be able to reflect on the importance the Americas had and still have in the formation and development of the United States. They will also be able to recognize, reject and modify misrepresentations and stereotypes that American society imposes as a result of a lack of interest or even information. In other words, they will better understand and develop an unbiased perspective of the Hispanic/Latino world.