Los Héroes y las Heroínas

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Overview: 

Through songs, stories and paintings, students explore how and why communities tell stories about heroes and heroines.

This helps students develop a greater understanding of actions that lead to social change. Students also develop proficiency in the use of the preterite and imperfect verb tenses in the Spanish language.

First, we brainstorm a list of people that the class considers to be heroes and heroines. The list can include people living or dead, fictional or real. We try to arrive at a consensus for each name placed on our list. We discuss how, where, when and from whom we heard about these people.

Next, students work in pairs to come up with actions (verbs) that these heroes and heroines did. They also create a list of adjectives to describe them. Students come up with an interesting variety of social justice vocabulary words that can easily be recycled throughout the unit.

We then experience musical, written and visual storytelling about heroes and heroines in the Latino community. With each story we ask: What motivated or inspired this person? What actions did they take? What challenges did they overcome? Did they always succeed? What role did they play in creating positive social change? Does everyone consider this person to be a hero or heroine? Why or why not? How and why does the storyteller share this person’s story? Who is the audience?

In the end, we chat about what it takes to be a hero or heroine and whether any person can become one. As a final assessment, students create and present an original song, poem, work of art or children’s book in Spanish to tell the story of a hero or heroine.

Liz Ransom
Princeton Day School
Princeton, N.J.

Possible Sources
There are Spanish corridos (ballads) about César Chávez and Dolores Huerta for students to use. The Smithsonian Institute’s website includes a brief video explanation about corridos along with footage of Chávez. 

Puerto Rican artist Yasmín Hernández produced a series of paintings entitled Soul Rebels that can be found on her website (look for it under the heading “projects”). 

Other resources include excerpts from the children’s book Cosechando Esperzanza: la Historia de César Chávez by Kathleen Krull, translated into Spanish by F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada; any book from the series Cuando los Grandes Eran Pequeños; and Julia by Georgina Lázaro, a story in rhyme about Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos.


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