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Grappling with Identity in Latino Poetry
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students


What is the experience of being a Latino living in the United States today? Are their concerns and experiences different or similar to that of other ethnic groups? Can the experience be categorized at all? The PBS series AMERICAN FAMILY gives one perspective on this as it depicts the life and times of a fictitious Mexican-American family. There has been much else written on the subject as well. In this lesson, students explore this complex issue by looking at the demographics of the United States, and reading how this has made an impact on American media. After becoming aware of some of the issues surrounding Latinos, students read a collection of poems on the subject, written by Latino writers. In the end students reflect on what they’ve learned by creating a multi-media collage.

Grade Level:
9-12

Time Allotment:
One to two weeks

Subject Matter:
English, Social Studies

Learning Objectives



Students will be able to:

  • Identify some common themes involving the Latino immigrant experience as conveyed through a variety of media.
  • Learn about issues of identity in some examples of poetry written by Latinos.
  • Learn the demographics of the United States.
  • Learn some basic poetry reading strategies.
  • Express what they learned in a multi-media collage.

National Standards:

MCREL Reading Standard 6, #6
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/Standard.asp?SubjectID=7
Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts. Understands how themes are used across literary works and genres (e.g., universal themes in literature of different cultures, such as death and rebirth, initiation, love and duty; major themes in American literature; authors associated with major themes of specific eras).

MCREL Reading Standard 6, #8
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/Standard.asp?SubjectID=7
Understands relationships between literature and its historical period, culture, and society (e.g., influence of historical context on form, style, and point of view; influence of literature on political events; social influences on author's description of characters, plot, and setting; how writers represent and reveal their cultures and traditions).

.MCREL Reading Standard 6, #10
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/Standard.asp?SubjectID=7
Relates personal response or interpretation of the text with that seemingly intended by the author.

This lesson was prepared by Sharon Freedman.