Jodi Fletcher
Cultural Studies Unit
English 4800
July 15, 2014

Caught Between Two Worlds: Challenges of Being A Latino-American Teen
Unit Description and Overview:
The overall objective of this unit is to identify and understand some of the challenges that face Latino-American teens today. The main goal is for them to dig deeper and come away understanding and being able to analyze these issues and apply them to real life situations.
Learning goals of this unit:
  • Ø Students will understand and interpret the issues of economic and social inequality
  • Ø Students will understand and interpret the issues of racial and ethnic discrimination
  • Ø Students will understand and interpret the issue of in/tolerance
  • Ø Students will understand and interpret the issue of stereotypes
  • Ø Students will understand and interpret the issue of searching for identity
  • Ø Students will understand and interpret the issue of peer pressure
  • Ø Students will understand and interpret the conflict created between traditional Hispanic culture and modern American culture within families
An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio (1995), by Judith Ortiz Cofer will be the main literary work studied. It is a collection of short stories that take place in the Puerto Rican barrio of Paterson, New Jersey. Each story has a different protagonist who struggles with a particular demon. The characters search for identity as an American teen and as a member of their ethnic group. Although there are many voices fighting to be heard as individuals, they are all entangled with and connected to a larger community. These are feelings every American teenager can identify with, which makes these stories relevant and interesting. The topics addressed in this book have always been and probably always will be important issues to our nation’s teenagers. These topics could be controversial because not everyone will have the same opinions and ideas about causation. Some will believe society is at fault, others will believe it is the individual. By creating a democratic classroom and setting ground rules for having open and honest conversations, students will have opportunities and be encouraged to speak freely without the fear of retaliation or ridicule.
The unit is geared toward middle school language arts students. Along with the main text, An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio, supplemental materials are incorporated which will be modified for students with learning accommodations and English language learners. The students will be engaged in various forms of reader response. They will also be using Internet websites and WebQuests. These assignments will provide practice in writing as well as critical thinking, ultimately improving student skill levels. The assortment of readings are challenging and thought provoking and offer students extended periods of time to read individually, in pairs or groups, or as a class, meeting the needs of all learners and improving overall reading skills. Assignments can be effectively modified to use with older students as well.

To begin the unit, students will interact with a variety of texts to introduce them to the history of the Spanish American War. Next, students will learn about the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. A basic understanding of the push and pull factors of immigration will also be necessary. I will briefly explain the circumstances behind Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. and their social and economic realities. At this point we will read Cofer’s, An Island Like You, and apply the objectives listed above to the collection of stories about modern day Puerto Rican teens. The materials I have chosen are appropriate because they illustrate the history of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. and the struggles they face. Students will have the opportunity to examine different perspectives through classroom discussion and the chapter from Quilted Landscape and the “Hispanics of Puerto Rican Origin in the United States, 2011” website. In the unit’s final project, students will be called to action to address the issues by offering suggestions and solutions to bring about change.

Common Core Standards to be Addressed:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.1 and 8.1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.2 and 8.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.4 and 8.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.1 and 8.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.2 and 8.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.6 and 8.6: Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.
Additional Pieces of Literature and Accompanying Activities:
Week One:
Day 1: Students will go to http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/spanish-american-war#sect-activities and complete the interactive WebQuest which will give them background information on the Spanish American War. They will read “GROVER CLEVELAND: American Interests in the Cuban Revolution”, and “William McKinley: War Message and brainstorm the reasoning of each with a partner and then with the whole class as I create a table on the board. I will divide students into groups of 4 to prepare for tomorrows activity.
Day 2 and 3: Students will complete the interactive WebQuest activity in the groups created yesterday. From the perspective of being writers for a national magazine, the groups will write stories pertaining to the following categories: Coming of War, Battles of the War, Opposition to the War, and one group member will act as the Photographer. All materials are linked to the WebQuest. The articles and photos they produce will be compiled to “publish” a magazine as the culminating activity.
Day 4: Students will read the information found at: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/us-takes-control-of-puerto-rico and http://gopuertorico.about.com/od/introductiontopuertorico/f/Statehood.htm and in Immigration to America: Identifying Different Points of View About an Issue, pg 34 and 35: “The Puerto Ricans” by Therese Shea. Students will then be asked to formulate an opinion on “why” the U.S. annexed Puerto Rico and whether or not they think it was the best thing to do. After adequate time has been given to write their responses, students will be paired up and share their answers. In their pairs students will discuss their responses and try to persuade their partner to agree with them. Pairs will then share out and I will generate a T-chart on the board comparing reasons it was good and reasons it was not good. Students will then reflect on new ideas presented by their classmates and choose what they feel is the overall best response. They will then draft a letter to President McKinley explaining their perspective.

Day 5: Students will read the first page only and go to the link provided to complete the chart at http://www.campsilos.org/excursions/grout/one/act2.htm With this new knowledge of push and pull factors of immigration, they will read the information at http://www.pewhispanic.org/2013/06/19/hispanics-of-puerto-rican-origin-in-the-united-states-2011/ and complete the chart and read Quilted Landscape: Conversations with Young Immigrants, page 62-64, “Edward Rosa Maldonado” by Yale Strom. Students will consider why Puerto Ricans have immigrated to the U.S. in such numbers and why some may choose to return to Puerto Rico based on push/pull factors. For this, they will develop charts of their own.
Week Two:
Day 6: Students will readthe poem, “Day in the Barrio” at the beginning of An Island Like You. They will create some sort of visual of what they “saw”, felt or thought as they were reading. They may volunteer to share their work with the class. Next, they will read about Rita in the story “Bad Influence” pg 1-38. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “How does this story illustrate the conflict created between traditional Hispanic culture and modern American culture for Rita?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time.

Day 7: Students will read about Arturo in the story, “Arturo’s Flight” pg 39-58. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “In what ways does Arturo struggle with his identity and how is this struggle resolved?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. They will start a compare and contrast chart to be used throughout the book analyzing Rita’s and Arturo’s conflicts using the unit objectives.

Day 8: Students will read about Sandra in the story, “Beauty Lessons” pg 59-79. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “What stereotypical image is Sandra faced with on several occasions and how does she respond to them? Does she overcome the stereotype?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Sandra will be added to the compare and contrast chart.

Day 9: Students will read about Luis in the story, “Catch the Moon” pg 80-95. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “What socioeconomic factors have affected Luis’ life and how has he chosen to deal with them? What are the results?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Luis will be added to the compare and contrast chart.

Day 10: Students will read about Arturo in the story, “An Hour with Abuelo” pg 96-104. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “What similarity does Arturo realize he shares with his grandfather? What significance does this have for their relationship and how does Arturo react?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Arturo will be elaborated on in the compare and contrast chart. What more do we understand about him now? What does he better understand about himself?
Week 3:
Day 11: Students will read about Doris in the story, “The One Who Watches” pg 105-118. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “What important lesson does Doris learn about friendship, peer pressure and herself?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Doris will be added to the compare and contrast chart.

Day 12: Students will read about Kenny in the story, “Mateo’s Mirror” pg 119-133. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “What socioeconomic factors have affected Kenny’s life and how has he chosen to deal with them? What are the results?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Kenny will be added to the compare and contrast chart. They will pay particular attention to comparing Kenny and Luis.

Day 13: Students will read about Yolanda in the story, “Don Jose of La Mancha” pg 134-155. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “What insights do we gain into Yolanda’s life and her identity struggles? What conclusions does she come to?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Yolanda will be added to the compare and contrast chart.

Day 14: Students will read about Connie in the story, “Abuela Invents the Zero” pg 156-163. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “How does this story illustrate the conflict created between traditional Hispanic culture and modern American culture for Connie?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Connie will be added to the compare and contrast chart. They will pay particular attention to comparing Connie and Rita.

Day 15: Students will read about Teresa in the story, “A Job for Valentin” pg 164-191. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “What important lessons does Teresa learn about peer pressure and tolerance?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Teresa will be added to the compare and contrast chart.
Week 4:
Day 16: Students will read about Anita in the story, “Home to El Building” pg 192-210. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “What insights do we gain into Anita’s life and her identity struggles? What socioeconomic factor is she trying to overcome and how? What does she learn?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Anita will be added to the compare and contrast chart.

Day 17: Students will read about Doris in the story, “White Balloons” pg 211-242. They will read with the following focus question in mind, “What important lessons does Doris learn about peer pressure, human nature and tolerance?” They will list several examples from the story as they read and bring their observations to the class discussion held after ample reading time. Doris will be elaborated on in the compare and contrast chart. What more do we understand about her now? What does she better understand about herself?

Days 18 and 19: Students will watch the film “Stand and Deliver” and identify various examples of racial and ethnic discrimination and prejudices as well as social and economic inequalities. Although this film takes place in California and not New Jersey, and the students are not all Puerto Rican, they will be able to draw many parallels to the book. The film is valuable because it reinforces the notion that anyone can succeed and it only takes the faith and encouragement of one person to bring about drastic, changes in individuals and to tear down stereotypes and call prejudices into question.

Day 20: Final Project: Now that you have finishedAn Island Like You, you are going to demonstrate what you have learned about growing up in both American and Puerto Rican culture. You may do this in any genre you wish. Examples may be, but are not limited to- an essay, a PowerPoint, a brochure, a congressman letter, a videotaped interview/role play or documentary.
Step 1: Choose one of the struggles of Puerto Rican teenagers we have discussed to explore in depth from our learning objectives and goals.
Step 2: Use historical information to help explain the perpetuation of the issue.
Step 3: Choose at least 2 of the characters to illustrate your explanation (you can also use examples from “Stand and Deliver”).
Step 4: Discusshow the characters experiences were the same and/or different.
Step 5: Offer some suggestions or possible solutions to improve the situation.
Step 6: Be creative!

6+1 Trait Writing Model: Caught Between Two Worlds



Teacher Name: J Fletcher


Student Name:


CATEGORY
4
3
2
1
Identified Learning Objective
Demonstrated an excellent understanding of one of the learning goals or objectives.
Demonstrated a satisfactory understanding of one of the learning goals or objectives.
Demonstrated a minimal understanding of one of the learning goals or objectives.
Demonstrated virtually no understanding of one of the learning goals or objectives.
Included Historical Information
Demonstrated an excellent understanding of relevant historical information.
Demonstrated a satisfactory understanding of relevant historical information.
Demonstrated a minimal understanding of relevant historical information.
Demonstrated virtually no understanding of relevant historical information.
Used Characters to Illustrate
Successfully used characters to illustrate understanding of issue.
Some what successfully used characters to illustrate understanding of issue.
Attempted to used characters to illustrate understanding of issue.
Did not use characters to illustrate understanding of issue.
Showed similarities and Differences
Successfully showed similarities and differences between characters.
Somewhat successfully showed similarities and differences between characters.
Attempted to show similarities and differences between characters.
Did not show similarities and differences between characters.
Offered a Solution
Successfully offered solutions to solve a problem.
Somewhat successfully offered solutions to solve a problem.
Attempted to offer solutions to solve a problem.
Did not S offer solutions to solve a problem.
Used Creativity
Extremely Creative! Amazing!
Somewhat Creative, appealing.
Attempted to be creative, I see where you were going...
Very little creativity