American Uprisings: The Culture and Politics of Latin America and the Caribbean

Lesson Plans

Though Ralph Waldo Emerson’s line “the shot heard round the world” has permanently fixed the exceptional nature of the American Revolution in the U.S. popular imagination, the persistent ubiquity of Che Guevara T-shirts reminds us that it was not the only revolution that fundamentally shaped the political and cultural landscape of the Americas

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How Far is Too Far?
Ellen H. Cohen, Metairie Park Country Day School, Spanish Language and Culture, Grades 11 and 12, 85 minute lesson

This lesson plan investigates the lengths that a government may go in protecting its interests in another country. Guatemala between the years 1900-1954 will be the example used.

Societal Organization of the Late Colonial Period in Perú
Dominique Gálvez, East Hampton High School

In this learning activity, students will experience being a part of late colonial Peruvian society.  Students will research the racial, ethnic, social, and economic conditions that lead to the movement for Peruvian independence.  Students will unfold the key concepts related to the time period through an experiential learning activity.

Perspectives on American Involvement in the Civil War in El Salvador
Eric Shapiro

Students will look at the history of U.S. involvement in El Salvador during the 1970s and 1980s.  Their examination will consist of various readings from different perspectives on this topic.  Readings and other sources will discuss U.S. military and economic support for the El Salvadoran government, especially under the Reagan administration (1981-1989). Group work will consist of choosing texts to examine, discussing the texts, and presenting group findings to the class as a whole.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It: A Classroom Inquiry To See What’s Important Across the Americas
James Bratager

Using this lesson plan, a teacher will be able to help students understand that there are different issues and problems that face other communities that they may or may not face in theirs by using the Newseum Front Pages website. Using the front pages of the newspapers across the Americas and the world, students will be able to determine what is important in each region through comparing and contrasting. This lesson plan is designed for 7th/8th graders but can easily be upgraded for high school students.

Upsetting the Apple Cart: Thinking Critically About Oppositional Discourse
Charles Scruggs

This lesson has been designed for use in an open-enrollment, post-secondary setting. It is hoped it will also be of interest to high school teachers and their students.

Drawing its inspiration from a body of literature known as post-colonial theory, this lesson provides students with an opportunity to examine critically the anti-imperialist poetry of Ruben Dario and Pablo Neruda. Through collaboration in small groups, students will consider audience, tone, and point of view—as well as the ways in which the two poets conceptualize the complex nature of the colonial relationship through the use of metaphor and other techniques. As a summative assessment, students will be asked to compose their own poem which explores the theme of colonialism in a context beyond Latin America (for example, Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia).

USA Border Crisis and the Deportation of Minors to Central America: A Child Portrait of the “American Dream”
Mellie Crespo-Jimenez

Students will use print, oral and digital technologies to create and present their perspectives on the actual crisis of USA deportation of minors from Central America who entered the country illegally. They will specifically express their conceptual understanding of the political and human behavior of this crisis, and the impact of this crisis on the discourse of the “American Dream” from multiple points of view.

Bienvenido a Territorio Zapatista
Elise Weisenbach

Indigenous peoples of Mexico have been struggling to defend their rights for over 500 years.  On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) rose up against the government of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. They expressed frustration with Neoliberalism, NAFTA and the government ignoring Article 27 of the Constitution of 1917 that called for land redistribution and protection of communal land. Indigenous communities wanted more control of public expenditures and the right to determine development plans. The San Andres Accords of 1996 gave indigenous peoples autonomy from government control, but were rejected by the Zapatistas because the agreements were ignored by the Mexican government. Instead, the Zapatistas relied on funds from international organizations to organize independent communities. The Zapatistas have received international support through the internet and social media. There have been improvements in public health and gender equality and women have a vital position in the Zapatista movement. Zapatista iconography includes faces covered by a black ski mask or a bandana. Street art, mural paintings on old buildings and walls highlight the snail, speech scrolls, corn, women in traditional clothes with guns and slogans related to indigenous rights and preservation of their culture.

Who is Rigoberta Menchú? & the Rigoberta Menchú Controversy
Bill Gibson

Rigoberta Menchύ’s biography, I, Rigoberta Menchύ: An Indian Woman in Guatemala (1983) has been a lightning rod for both adoration and condemnation. After winning the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize her narrative, writ large, was considered a threat to status quo stakeholders from academia to neoconservatives, and beyond. While it is tempting to reduce this response to hysterical hyperbole this lesson is intended to contextualize the Rigoberta Menchύ controversy and by extension generate lasting interest in Guatemalan history, historiography, and human rights.

The EZLN in Historical Context
Jenny Kline

This lesson explores the emergence of indigenous opposition to NAFTA in the early 1990s through two primary documents published by the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) at the start of the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico. 

Chilean New Song and Revolutionary Activists
Karen Jogan, Albright College; Spanish/ Latin American Studies; two class periods of 50 minutes. Second class period might include brief follow reports, as suggested below.

In this lesson, students will identify characteristics of Chilean new song. They will identify themes and style of the Chilean new song in two specific selections, which thematically focus on revolutionary activists of the 19th and 20th century (Bolivar and Che Guevara).

Power point on Chilean New Song | PDF version

Lyrics of two songs (Simon Bolivar, and El Aparecido)

Dos caras de Potosí–Jigsaw Reading and Discussion
Jennifer Glandt

The lesson was created for upper level Spanish students in a Latin American Civilization course. It is based on the colonial boom-town of Potosi, Bolivia and the complex society that quickly  grew up to support the silver mining, which in turn supported the Spanish Empire. Students will work in four expert groups (Mining and Money, the Mita System and Slavery, the Commerce and Society of Potosi, and the Birth of World Trade) and then reorganize into base groups to share their knowledge and complete an exit ticket activity.

Introduction page projected for class

4 one-page readings:

La minería y monedas(mining and money)

La mita y la esclavitud (the Mita System and Slavery)

El comercio y la sociedad de Potosí (Trade and the Culture of Potosí)

El nacimiento del comercio mundial (the Birth of World Trade)

Art of the Mexican Revolution/ El Arte de la Revolución Mexicana
Janna Aune, Saint Thomas Academy, Spanish Level 3, grades 9-12, 45 min lesson

The Mexican Revolution continues to have lasting impacts that are relevant both to the study and analysis of the history of Mexico as a whole as well as the political and cultural relations between Mexico and the United States. The Mexican Revolution is characterized by a cultural revolution that was proliferated through various forms of public art and the search for a new Mexican identity. This new school of art would reaffirm the values of the revolution and provide a historical narrative as well as social commentary by the public and for the public. In this lesson, students will begin to recognize key icons and events in the Mexican Revolution as they examine and explore the visual arts.

El Arte Revolucionario de México-Diego Rivera: Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda

Teacher Handout: Diego Rivera — Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park

What factors caused the Haitian Revolution? How did this Revolution affect the people of Haiti and the surrounding region?
Maria Valentin, World History II – 10th grade – 49 min. lesson (or 2 – 49 min. blocks)

This lesson seeks to introduce students to the internal and external factors that caused the Haitian Revolution by examining a variety of primary and secondary sources. The lesson seeks to place the Haitian Revolution in a global context with colonialism and the American and French Revolutions. It seeks to get students to think define the ways in which the Haitian Revolution was similar to and different from these aforementioned Revolutions. It also seeks to get students to understand the impact of the Haitian Revolution on Latin America and to get students to think about the ways in which Haiti was similar to Latin America.

The Haitian Revolution (ppt)

Fruits of Revolution: The Zapatista Movement
Pamela Melton

In this mini-unit, students will be looking at the Zapatista Movement as an effect of the Mexican Revolution. First, students will analyze the relationship among concentration of indigenous populations, GDP and literacy rates by comparing various maps and drawing conclusions about the realities of indigenous people across Mexico. Students will be given the task of “investigating” the Zapatista movement based on articles, photographs and interviews in small groups, as a whole class and individually. Students will be given several homework assignments and assessments throughout the time of study.

Ché: Peacemaker or Warmonger?
Tamara Gordon, Westlake High School, Waldorf, MD and Patrick Iber, University of California Berkely, AP World History, 9th-12th, 46 minutes period

This lesson has students analyze two speeches from Ernesto “Ché” Guevara to determine what kind of influence he had throughout his role in history.

Rubric for the Assessment of the Argumentative Essay

Diarios de motocicleta: La evolución del Che
Vanessa Del Giudice, NBCT

In this unit students will read some selections from Diarios de motocicleta, a memoir by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, in order to improve their proficiency in the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They will analyze the historical context of the work to gain an understanding of what life was like in Latin America during this period. They will also reflect on the formation of “Che” Guevara’s character and revolutionary persona through the events he experienced in his travels.

In addition, the students will examine a poem, “La United Fruit Co.,” by Pablo Neruda and a mural, “Gloriosa Victoria,” by Diego Rivera in order to provide a context for Guevara’s writing. They will also use these works to assess the role of art and literature in expressing cultural perspectives on important events and issues.

Handout 1: “La United Fruit Co.” por Pablo Neruda

Handout 2: “La United Fruit Co.” por Pablo Neruda (Preguntas de comprensión)

Handout 3: “Gloriosa Victoria,” Mural de Diego Rivera (Preguntas de comprensión)

Handout 4: Selecciones de Diarios de motocicleta por Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Preguntas de comprensión)

La Revolución Cubana – parte 1 (The Cuban Revolution – part 1)
Sarah M. Stoecker, Brookfield East High School, Spanish 3 (immersion-style classroom), Grades 9-12, 90 minute lesson

In this lesson, students will work to identify, compare, and contrast what “revolution” means from a U.S. perspective via their prior knowledge of the American Revolution as well as the Cuban perspective via the Cuban Revolution.

La Revolución Americana y la Revolución Cubana

Los Cubanos en los EEUU

Los Cubanos en los EEUU (answers)

La historia breve de la revolución cubana

La historia breve de la revolución cubana (answers)

Case Study: Tupac Amaru Rebellion
Dave Desrosiers, Thomas Hunter Middle School, Global History of Warfare, 7 minutes

In this lesson students will use the Tupac Amaru Rebellion as a case study and analyze a primary source document using Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Students will assess Micaela Batisdas

Letter from Micaela Bastidas to Tupac Amaru II

Document Analysis Journal

What is a Revolution? (Day 1)- ¿Qué Es Una Revolución? (Día 1)
Josue Lopez, Windham Middle School, Social Studies-History, Grade 7 ‘New Arrivals’ Classroom, One 90 minute Class period

The class is a self-contained bilingual classroom. Students who are in the classroom are Spanish-speaking students who are all below English proficiency levels as  measured by LAS Links.

This “revolutionary” unit has students exploring revolutions, uprisings, and movements in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. They will explore different events in Latin America history with themes that are culturally relevant such as poverty, racism, sexism, and more.

Day 1 notes