Monthly Highlights and Focused Resources
Starting this September, we are launching a new feature on our website called Monthly Highlights. We plan to use this page as a central location for resources related to an identified monthly theme. On the page, you will find resources ranging from blog posts, featured lesson plans, teacher highlights, featured scholarship, and picture book resources. Our goal is to provide you with ready-to-use resources that will allow you to connect with our theme for the month.
This month, our theme is Latina/o/x Heritage. The establishment of a national celebration of Hispanic heritage has an interesting history. In 1968, under President Lyndon Johnson, the United States celebrated its first Hispanic Heritage Week, which required the inclusion of September 15th and 16th. To be sure, legislators’ choice of these dates was not arbitrary. This choice reflected the fact that five countries in Central America celebrate their independence on the 15th (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua), and Mexico celebrates its independence on the 16th. Twenty years later, legislators decided to expand the observation of Hispanic Heritage to a full month but decided to retain the starting dates. This month, we have curated resources that can help your students better understand the experience of Latina/o/x peoples as they fought for civil rights, resisted oppression, and built communities. While we are not following the national celebration exactly, we hope that we can help you start this conversation in your classrooms ahead of the 15th.
One lesson plan we would like to highlight this month addresses the Bracero Program. The Bracero Program, which lasted from 1942-1964, was a federal program intended to mitigate the agricultural labor shortage caused by the World War II mobilization efforts. While many Mexican workers saw economic opportunity in this program, their experiences in these programs exposed them to unfair labor conditions, outright racism, and uncertain job security. This lesson plan, designed primarily for 11th-grade students, provides an overview of the Bracero Program with conceptual questions, primary source documents for analysis, and interpretive exercises. In the words of Laima Haider, one of the teachers who worked on the lesson plan, we must acknowledge that “The Braceros were a marginalized group that were taken advantage of and deserve recognition. Learning about them and the wrongs done to them by Californians is just the start.”
Additionally, we would like to highlight Ana Orozco, an ethnic studies and world history teacher at Lynwood High School, this month. You may remember a recent blog post in which we featured her use of sentipensante, a method to promote self-awareness among her students. Given your positive response to her article, we decide to check back in with her to ask about the benefits of incorporating Latina/o/x voices in her courses. She shared this quote with us:
“It is student-centered where I (teacher) facilitate and support their research, they research their own ancestors' stories, which enables them to piece together their identities, and they feel confident to take the knowledge they produced back to share it with their communities. This becomes the most powerful part where the content they learn in the class truly becomes alive for each of them and they can become agents of change. If I am able as an educator to support my students in this stage, I feel I have done one of the most important jobs as an educator.”
For more on what Orozco has done to incorporate Latina/o/x voices in classroom exercises (as well as her students’ responses), please visit our monthly highlights page later this month.
Over the course of the year, we will continue to share our monthly theme in a blog post, with some material from the Monthly Highlight page. We encourage you to visit the page to get an idea of what we have and, ideally, that you can use in your own classroom.
As a final invitation, we would like to share that next month our theme will be Civics education. We encourage you to email us if you have any teachers or resources you think we should feature!