Today’s Contributor: Karen Guerrero
Karen teaches at AP US History and inclusion US History for English Learners at Crockett High School. She has two sons who both attended Crockett. When not at Crockett, she can be found out in nature or on the water, listening to music, playing golf or just relaxing with a book or movie.
Ah! October! There is a chill in the air, pumpkin spice comes back and football season is in full swing. Holidays are around the corner, decorations for Holloween are going up and in some cultures, Ofrendas are being created to honor ancestors who have died. Ofrendas are a collection of objects placed in a ritual display and are traditionally a part of the Dia De Los Muertos celebration in Hispanic Cultures.
Incorporating Blended Learning, Social Emotional Intelligence and Culturally Responsive Teaching in classroom lesson plans can be a big order for any class. I teach two sections of U.S. History that are stacked with English Language Learners. This makes differentiation difficult, however, this fall I did find one way to use all three in my U.S. History classes.
Crockett holds a school-wide Dia De Los Muertos celebration every year. I decided to incorporate Ofrendas into lesson plans for U.S. History to address Social Emotional Learning and Culturally Responsive Teaching. Students were given a reformer from the Progressive-Era and tasked with creating an Ofrenda to the reformer. Students from cultural backgrounds that celebrate Dia De Los Muertos became instant experts on the project for other students unfamiliar with Ofrendas – a welcome change for students unfamiliar with the dominant culture of the United States. Having the Ofrendas presented at the school-wide celebration gave all students a real-world application to the project.
Blended learning was incorporated by using Chromebooks to research reformers and prepare parts of the Ofrenda. Students also used looping videos as a part of their presentations. Ofrendas were presented in the classroom in a museum presentation. Students moved freely about the room reading the contributions of each reformer and watching videos. Students were given a choice as to how they recorded the information they were learning – to type notes on GoogleDocs or handwritten notes.