Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Author: Rudolfo Anaya
Work: Bless Me, Ultima
Jorge Arredondo integrates inquiry into his classroom by encouraging students to formulate and pursue personal questions about Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima. Arredondo stimulates questioning, discussion, and research by taking the class to see a mural -- created during the same era when the book was written -- that depicts struggles by Mexican Americans.
To prepare for the lesson, view The Expanding Canon video program 3, Part I. Online, review the Session 3 theory overview, strategies, information about the authors and literature, resources, and the downloadable print guide. Read Bless Me, Ultima.
Teachers will need the following supplies:
Standards for the English Language Arts
Teachers may want to show students the profile of Rudolfo Anaya from The Expanding Canon Workshop Session 3 program – Part I.
1. Jorge Arredondo tells his students that they will discuss their favorite parts of Bless Me, Ultima and then they will look at a mural to compare it to the book.
2. Arredondo asks students to choose any passage from the book that relates to their lives or raises questions to which they want answers, and write it down.
3. Students share the passages they've chosen with the class, explaining why they have made their choices. Arredondo also shares a passage and explains why it's important to him.
4. Building on the issues that students raised, Arredondo prompts them to discuss larger themes from the book, such as the interweaving of folklore and religion.
5. Arredondo tells his students that they are going to see a mural painted in 1972 by the Mexican American Youth Organization. (Teachers who do not have access to a similar artwork may instead show their students murals or Mexican American artwork on the Internet, or a clip featuring the mural from this video program.) Arredondo asks his students what themes they expect to find in the mural. Building on their predictions, he shares some relevant background information. He explains that Mexican American farming has its roots in Aztec culture, and that migration played a big role in Mexican American history.
6. Arredondo asks his students to think of questions they have about Bless Me, Ultima, and to keep these questions in mind as they look at the mural. He responds by summarizing students' ideas about the book.
1. The class views the mural. As students look at it, Arredondo reminds them to keep in mind their predictions about the mural, the relationship of those predictions to themes of the novel, and the relationship of those themes to the passages and personal questions the students originally raised. He asks students questions such as:
2. In their journals, students record their responses to the mural and any connections they find to Bless Me, Ultima. They then read these observations aloud. Arredondo's students remark on the way that spirits and healers watch over the living. They also talk about the tension that arises when one person tries to control another's destiny. During the discussion, Arredondo explains who some of the figures are in the mural, while helping students to clarify their ideas.
3. Arredondo asks his students to use what they have discussed in class -- passages, personal connections, the major themes, historical information, and the associations between these -- to formulate a question they would like to research further. He reminds students that the pursuit of answers can lead to actions that will make a positive difference in their community.