Thus far, the preliminary implementation of this unit has proven effective and engaging. My students made identity connections via hands-on, interactive cultural experiences. Their understanding was demonstrated in the projects they continue to work on, coupled with the way students enthusiastically shared their new-found information with others. (My blossoming researchers had an opportunity to demonstrate what they had learned regarding Cuban culture and identity with fellow grade-level classmates. They shared their knowledge of Cuban dance before our larger school community. Parents were able to experience their children’s in-progress work effort. All were impressed with how much our young learners had grasped and absorbed. Many are additionally excited to know that this type of learning experience will continue in the upcoming school year.)
Moreover, I marveled at the way my third graders implemented the research process to make identity connections. They made use of learned reading and research strategies to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, becoming familiar with identities that many Cuban people themselves embrace. I am also impressed with the way students applied what they had learned to experiences encountered within our New Haven community. For example, Music & Popular Life team members Ella and Jordan pointed out that Jose Marti’s “White Rose” poem was mounted along the wall near the handrail that lead to the upper level of the Soul de Cuba Restaurant. The team’s glimpse into the poet’s literary creation during their course of study allowed them to relate to a major figure in Cuban history. As a result, the children were empowered, once again making text- to-experiential-real-world connections!
The trial-run implementation of parts of this unit helped me realize that students
experience culture and identity in tangible, impartial, and engaging ways. The result is an invaluable learning experience to last a lifetime. Across the board, Cuban identity and culture appear to have been objectively embraced. The preliminary implementation of this curriculum unit, however, only touches the surface. There is much more to be explored.
Moving forward, I will fine-tune this unit, modifying it to incorporate other countries whose diverse populations are reflected within our school community, neighborhood, and beyond:
South Africa, Lithuania, Morocco, Argentina
… the designated country list
my travel itinerary will be expanding, as too will my students’ insightful ability to embrace the world through an impartial lens!