My Name is Juanita.
I am Mexican.
I live in New York.
I am Latina.
Our indigenous roots are alive
Many indigenous cultures have survived. Most people in Latin American have indigenous roots.
“The children of the Americas should learn to know, respect, and love the indigenous mother
of this continent.” José Martí, La edad de oro.
Questions to Initiate and Guide the Creative Reading Dialogue
What do we know about Juanita’s family and about the place where she lives?
How was Juanita’s school in her hometown?
Why did Juanita struggle in school?
What did Juanita wished she knew more about?
What was the great surprise? How did it make her feel?
Personal Interpretive Phase
Do you have indigenous roots? Do you know anyone who does?
Do you speak at home a language other than English?
Do you know anyone whose home language is not English?
Have you ever moved? How did you feel about living in a different place?
Have you noticed anyone struggling to speak English?
Have you seen people making fun of someone because they do not speak English fluently, or because they have a different culture or background?
Why is it valuable to know how to speak more than one language?
Creative/ Transformative Phase
How is the life of people who know well more than one language enriched?
How can we show respect and appreciation for indigenous cultures and their languages?
Questions for the Analysis of the Composition and Structure of the Text
What words Juanita used to describe her friend?
How does she describe her home town?
What is the meaning of:
We smile in silence.
to break the magic of the moment.
We have learned to smile
when we understand that silence is better…
Activities Students Can Do Individually or in Groups
Find/create a map showing all the countries where Spanish is spoken.
Make a list of the countries.
Search to find how many people speak Spanish throughout the world.
Find out which are some of the indigenous languages that are also spoken on those countries.
Make a display of pictures, a collage, or a mural showing monuments created by indigenous cultures
in Latin America and/or some of their art expressions.
Have students research and share contributions of the indigenous cultures in the areas of:
A Creative Writing Transformative Education Activity
Students can further the exploration of their own personal identity by creating an I Am poem. This activity becomes stronger when you model it by creating a book about yourself.
When I am by myself
and I close my eyes
I’m a twin,
I’m a dimple in a chin
I’m a room full of toys
I’m a squeaky noise
I’m a gospel song
I’m a gong
I’m a leaf turning red
I’m a loaf of brown bread
I’m a whatever I want to be
And anything I care to be
And when I open my eyes
What I want to be
F. Isabel Campoy
I am a woman, creator of life.
I am Latina, passionate, familiar.
I am an emigrant,
conscious of my two horizons.
I am bilingual,
capable of negotiating contradictions.
I am the granddaughter of peasants.
I am the daughter of tenacity and love.
I am mestiza of cultures, of races,
of ways to see life.
I am a voice without fear.
I am here, building new roads
to go forward,
true to myself.
1. Create your own “I Am” book
Metaphoric “I Am” book
—-Present yourself in terms of:
colors, fragrances, feelings, food, music, songs, etc.
a part of nature: ocean, mountains, desert, fields, trees, or flowers, animals, birds, fish
a place or object in your house, an element of your life
a cultural icon
any image that represents you
Relationship “I Am” book
Present yourself as daughter/son; sister/brother; aunt/uncle, etc.
Acrostic “I Am” book
Use each letter of your name to guide the structure of the book
Combination or Original structure “I Am” book
Dare to be creative.
2. Create a collective “I Am” poem with the class
Share your poem with the students and ask each one to give you one sentence to create a collective poem.
3. Encourage students to create their own individual poems
4. Create a class book
Include your poem, the students’ collective poem and their individual poems.
5. Share the class book with parents
6. Invite parents to create their own poems
7. Create a parents collective books for the classroom, school and public libraries.
The Transformative Education Principles supporting these activities and the methodology of Authors in the Classroom can be found in www.authorsintheclassroom.com
Specific examples of I Am Books can be found at: http://authorsintheclassroom.com/1-affirming-self-i-am-books/
Take advantage of quality sites in the Internet to provide valuable visual experiences for your students.
The Smithsonian Institute has a virtual exhibition: http://latino.si.edu/exhibitions/centralamericarevealed/3DSim/RACA.pdf
Related Books Grades 2-4
Laughing Crocodiles by Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy.
Includes Guatemala section with poems by Humberto Ak’abal
Related Books Grades 4-8