Table of Contents

    Cover Story
  • Free COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement

    By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

    Students learn about the FBI’s counterintelligence program of the 1960s and ´70s. They see the roots of Black Lives Matter—and the attacks on it—in the history of Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Hampton.

  • Features
  • Free ESSA: NCLB Repackaged

    By Stan Karp

    Its total failure and the movement against standardized testing finally brought the demise of No Child Left Behind. But is its successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act, any better?

  • Free Education Under Occupation: East Jerusalem

    An interview with Zakaria Odeh

    By Jody Sokolower

    An on-the-ground account of the impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian children from the perspective of East Jerusalem.

  • Cultivando sus voces

    1st graders develop their voices learning about farmworkers

    By Marijke Conklin

    Emerging bilingual 1st graders research farmworkers by visiting a strawberry farm and reading lots of books. Then they write their own stories.

  • El corazón de la escuela/The Heart of the School

    The importance of bilingual school libraries

    By Rachel Cloues

    A public school teacher-librarian describes a vibrant library program—and exposes the harm when librarians are seen as dispensable and libraries become testing centers.

  • Free El corazón de la escuela

    La importancia de las bibliotecas bilingües en las escuelas

    By Rachel Cloues | Translated By Nicholas Yurchenco

    Una maestra bibliotecaria describe los dinámicos programas de su biblioteca y expone el daño causado cuando se considera a los bibliotecarios como dispensables y a las bibliotecas como el centro de los exámenes.

  • Believe Me the First Time

    By Dale Weiss

    A 2nd grader and a 4th grader share experiences on their paths toward gender identity, then join forces to create and teach a lesson promoting understanding and support.

  • Free Sacrifice Zones

    By Rosemarie Frascella

    An English language teacher uses Naomi Klein’s concept of sacrifice zones—from This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate—to help her immigrant students understand connections between oppression in their home countries and in the United States.

  • Free Zonas de Sacrificio

    Por Rosemarie Frascella | Traducido por Vanesa Ortiz Solis

    Una maestra de inglés usa el concepto de zonas de sacrificio de Naomi Klein, de Esto lo cambia todo: El capitalismo contra el clima, para ayudar a sus estudiantes inmigrantes a entender las conexiones entre la opresión en sus países de origen y en los Estados Unidos.

  • “The Most Gentrified City of the Century”

    By Becky HenkleBerry, Jeff Waters

    Middle school teachers collaborate to help students understand and critique the changes that have taken place in their Portland, Oregon, neighborhood. Their inspired students create an online resource of local history and heroes.

  • Free Prizes as Curriculum

    How my school gets students to “behave”

    By Kelly Lagerwerff

    A paraprofessional exposes the harm of substituting compliance for content at a school for special needs students.

  • Departments Free
    Editorials
  • Boycotting Occupation: Educators and Palestine

    By The Editors of Rethinking Schools
  • Education Action
  • Reining in Military Recruiting

    By Seth Kershner
  • Resources
  • Our picks for books, videos, websites, and other social justice education resources.
  • Good Stuff
  • Memories

    By Herb Kohl

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Cultivando sus voces

1st graders develop their voices learning about farmworkers
Cultivando sus voces

Photo:Marijke Conklin

First graders learn about the lives of farmworkers up close at Brentwood Berry Farm in California.

“¡Viva la huelga! ¡Viva la huelga! ¡Viva la causa de verdad!”

This was the energetic, ascending chant of my 24 1st graders last spring, as they joyfully presented the United Farm Workers (UFW) protest song “Niños campesinos” to their families at our end-of-year expo night. We had just finished our study of farmworkers, and these 6-year-olds captured the passion of a protest movement that galvanized millions to march against injustice in California in the 1960s.

My students, part of a Spanish K–8 dual immersion program at Melrose Leadership Academy, a public school in Oakland, California, learn in Spanish for five hours per day and in English for the remaining hour. They come from diverse racial and economic backgrounds.

Many of our students come to school with a strong sense of fairness and an interest in working together for a goal. By focusing on California farmworkers, I wanted to offer my students a platform in the classroom to share and develop those values. The whole study was in Spanish. Half of my students are Spanish language learners. That meant teaching vocabulary and concepts through songs, stories, trips, and discussions.

“How Do You Grow Fruit?”

In March, I gathered students together on the rug to kick off our study. “We’ve learned about wheat and fruit in California,” I began, making a bridge to our previous studies. “Starting today, we’ll learn about the people who grow the fruit we eat. We’ll take a trip to a farm where you’ll get to find out about some of these farmers.”

The room brimmed with excitement, and right away I got a wave of questions: “Where are we going? How far away is it? How will we get there?”

I told them we’d be riding a bus for an hour to Brentwood Berry Farm. “A family owns and works on the farm. Today, you’ll be working together in groups to come up with questions to ask them. Remember, questions can help us get more information about what we are learning. How do questions start again?”

Students called out “Who?” “What?” “Where?” “When?” “Why?” “How?” I charted their answers.

“Now let’s use those words to start a question for the people who grow our fruit.”

Coszcatl raised her hand. “Do they speak English or Spanish?”

Adam’s hand went up next. “What is your favorite color?”

“All questions can give us interesting information,” I said, wanting to validate Adam but also guide the class toward content-specific questions. “But we’re especially looking for information about what it’s like to be a farmworker.”

Pablo asked, “What kind of fruit do you grow?”

The students then gathered in their groups. Loretta, the notetaker, got her group started by asking, “OK, what are our questions?”

Daniel posed the first one: “What do you like about working on a farm?”

Ethan: “How do you grow fruit?”

Sofia: “What don’t you like about working on a farm?”

Loretta: “What different fruit do you grow?”

Daniel: “Where are you from?”

I signaled the end of the group work with my rain stick. Back on the rug, students shared with each other and decided which questions to keep. I charted their questions and asked them to consider which ones would help us get the most information.

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