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The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School

Inquiry: Tomás Rivera and Esmeralda Santiago Lesson Plans

This section includes summaries of the lessons featured in the in the video programs. The lessons explore the literature through an inquiry approach.

Lesson Plan 1: Inquiry: Tomás Rivera
Jorge Arredondo uses an inquiry-based approach to the study of …y no se lo tragó la tierra… (And the Earth Did Not Devour Him) by Tomás Rivera. With his guidance, students question the book’s translator, conduct Internet research, and interview Mexican immigrants who work in their school. The process of searching for answers to their own questions helps students increase their research skills.

Lesson Plan 2: Inquiry: Esmeralda Santiago
Bo Wu uses an inquiry approach to explore Esmeralda Santiago’s memoir When I Was Puerto Rican. The students engage in a dramatic reading of several sections of the chapter “The American Invasion of Macún” and discuss Santiago’s usage of dialogue and descriptive language. Sparked by their personal interests, the students develop and research topics based on the chapter. Using Santiago’s work as a model, the students create timelines of their lives and write their own memoirs.

Lesson Plan 1

Overview
Jorge Arredondo uses an inquiry-based approach to the study of …y no se lo tragó la tierra… (And the Earth Did Not Devour Him) by Tomás Rivera. With his guidance, students question the book’s translator, conduct Internet research, and interview Mexican immigrants who work in their school. The process of searching for answers to their own questions helps students increase their research skills.

Preparation
To prepare for the lesson, view The Expanding Canon video program 4, Part I. Online review the session 4 theory overview, strategies, information about the authors and literature, resources, and the downloadable print guide. Read …y no se lo tragó la tierra (…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him).


Materials
Teachers will need the following supplies:

  • board and/or chart paper
  • a screen or monitor on which to show a clip from the video program 4, either on a vhs tape or from the Web (optional)
  • copies of …y no se lo tragó la tierra (…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him).
  • computers

Standards
Standards for the English Language Arts

Summary

Day 1:
1. Jorge Arredondo explains to students that they will be doing library research to further their understanding of …y no se lo tragó la tierra (…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him). He asks students to come up with questions about the book they’d like to explore.

2. Before students go to the library, Evangelina Vigil-Piñón, who translated the novel, visits the class. She discusses why she was drawn to the works of Rivera and answers students’ questions. (Teachers may want to show students the clip featuring Vigil-Piñón, The Expanding Canon video program 4, Part I.)

3. Arredondo explains to students that they will be developing a story inspired by research related to the novel. Prompting students to list questions for additional research, he asks them questions such as:

  • What information – historical, geographical, economic – does one need in order to write accurately about this text’s cultural milieu?
  • Who would have the best perspective to tell what it was/is like to live in the text’s cultural milieu?

4. Arredondo tells students about books he has set aside in the library that speak to the cultural milieu of the text the class is studying. He also provides a list of Web sites (as a springboard for their exploration) that provide relevant information. As students conduct their research, Arredondo answers questions as needed.

Day 2:
1. Arredondo asks students to learn more about the cultural milieu of …y no se lo tragó la tierra (…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him) by interviewing members of the school’s custodial staff who have had experiences similar to those described in the text. He reminds the students to show these workers the utmost respect, but then allows students to control the interview process. Finally, Arredondo asks students to write and publish a story of their own that reflects a personal response to what they have learned.

Lesson Plan 2

Overview
Bo Wu uses an inquiry approach to explore Esmeralda Santiago’s memoir When I Was Puerto Rican. The students engage in a dramatic reading of several sections of the chapter “The American Invasion of Macún” and discuss Santiago’s usage of dialogue and descriptive language. Sparked by their personal interests, the students develop and research topics based on the chapter. Using Santiago’s work as a model, the students create timelines of their lives and write their own memoirs.

Preparation
To prepare for the lesson, view The Expanding Canon video program 4, Part I. Online review the session 4 theory overview, strategies, information about the authors and literature, resources, and the downloadable print guide. Read Esmeralda Santiago’s memoir, When I Was Puerto Rican.

Materials
Teachers will need the following supplies:

  • board and/or chart paper
  • a television monitor or screen on which to show video program 4 or on-demand video (optional)
  • computers
  • Copies of When I Was Puerto Rican.

Standards
Standards for the English Language Arts

Summary
Teachers may want to show students the profile of Esmeralda Santiago from The Expanding Canon video program 4, Part II.

Day 1
1. Bo Wu begins her class by asking students to write predictions about Santiago’s work in their journals. She then asks students to read aloud from the text. Two students read the dialogue and one reads the narration. Afterwards, the class discusses the importance of description in narration and the difference between direct and indirect dialogue.

2. Students write down responses in their journals and post these on the class Internet site.

3. Divided into small groups, students discuss issues and topics from their journal entries. Wu asks the groups to come up with a list of issues to explore further and to post this list on the class Internet site. She tells students that they are going to use these topics as a basis for writing their own memoirs.

4. Once students have generated topics for research, Wu asks students to share these topics with the class. Students lead the discussion, with Wu providing guidance to focus their topics for research purposes. For homework, Wu asks students to analyze how Santiago describes “The American Invasion of Macún” in the chapter by that name.

Day 2
1. Wu asks students to analyze Santiago’s writing choices. She creates a graphic organizer for students by drawing a web with the words “American Invasion” at the center. As students propose ideas and information relevant to this topic, she writes their ideas around the words in the center. She also guides students to focus on evidence by asking questions such as:

  • How did Santiago illustrate this idea of the American invasion?
  • What are some of the changes that the American invasion brought to Santiago?
  • What kind of teacher was Miss Jimenez?

2. Wu then asks students to write a personal story in response to Santiago’s work. She asks them to begin by generating a timeline of events, including sensory experiences. This timeline functions as a graphic organizer for the students’ stories. As Wu explains, “We’ll use the timeline to help you explore and discover some of the stories in your life about the topic you have chosen.” The timeline includes events, detailed with specific sensory experiences, as well as their connections to the larger events of history.

3. Students pick out two events in the timeline and research their cultural and historic background. Wu then asks students to write a short memoir that connects personal stories with the historic and cultural events they have researched.

Series Directory

The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School

Credits

Produced by Thirteen/WNET. 2003.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-676-6