Sunday, December 8, 2013
For my final project I decided to work in some class discussion and reflection time about stereotypes and Latinos in the USA. We started off in a very basic way, by introducing the word stereotype itself. Many of my seventh grade students were unaware of the what the word meant, so this was a good starting point. We added the term to our classroom and unit vocabulary. The unit I designed is entitled "Latinos in the USA." I tried to attach the vocabulary, essential questions and some of the documents I've used, but don't have a way of sharing these using Adobe, so I will bring them to class with me.
The essential question and unit vocabulary were discussed and broken down in class on Monday. On Tuesday I provided students with an organizer outlining various groups or "categories" of people in our country. The organizer listed about 7 or 8 groups and had blank bullet points underneath each, a framework for discussion. Students were asked to work with their groups and list the stereotypes we associate with each group provided. After about 20-30 minutes of group discussion we came together as a class and created a class list. I asked the students to think about why I had them do this and I emphasized that we would be talking more specifically about Latinos (on group on their list). In addition to this, we discussed why stereotyping limits our understanding of the world around us, and the ways in which media and TV contribute to our opinions and categorizations of people.
In addition to the vocabulary and overview discussion of stereotypes, we watched two more specific video clips (found on YouTube). This was done on the third day of the unit (Wednesday). These two video clips deal with stereotyping and Latinos. It seems that one was filmed by a teacher, the other creator isn't easy to determine. Both videos feature teens who are of Latino descent. The teenagers ask watchers to consider their first hand experience with stereotypes. One of the videos is simply entitled "Hispanic Stereotypes." The other is really wonderfully entitled "We Would Like You To Know." Both videos provide the star students with a voice, something that we have discussed in class. I think the featured students really feel heard. Also, I think having my students, some of whom have never really had any real life experience with someone who is Latino, found these videos meaningful.
I let the students watch the videos, we discussed them briefly, and they completed a journal entry with a few guiding questions to answer.To wrap up this portion of the unit I asked the students to think about ways that we can fight stereotypes. I encouraged them to think about this on a personal level, not in a broad sense. One student said "think twice, speak once." I thought this was an excellent way to transition into the next piece of the unit, which deals with immigration.
We Would Like You To Know:
I'm not going to go into detail about immigration or illegal immigration here. However, what I think is important to note is that the discussion and work we did prior to getting into the unit further, is the emphasis on empathy. One more piece of the discussion prior to immigration was a day devoted to a documentary called "Which Way Home?" This video is about teens and children, along with many adults from Central America, who ride on the tops of trains in order to get to the U.S./Mexican border. These are people who are incredibly desperate and need to earn money for their families. I've included a trailer below. I think this video, along with the discussion of stereotypes worked as fantastic precursors to the very confusing and challenging topic of illegal immigration. Ultimately I will be providing students with a number of resources which look at multiple stories and ideas about how to solve this problem. I will ask students to take a side and we will set up a classroom debate as part of our final assessment for the unit.