9 ES Salvadoreñx Political Activism in the 1980s
Students will analyze and evaluate various primary sources that depict political activism within the Salvadoran community in the United States. Utilizing a variety of mediums, students will gain insight into the political tools utilized by these activists.
- HSS 11.9.4 List the effects of foreign policy on domestic policies and vice versa (e.g., protests during the war in Vietnam, the \"nuclear freeze\" movement).
Collaborate with peers to engage in short, grade-appropriate written exchanges and writing projects, using technology as appropriate.
Use an increasing variety of grade-appropriate general academic (e.g., dominate, environment) and domain-specific (e.g., characterization, photosynthesis, society, quadratic functions) academic words accurately and appropriately when producing increasingly complex written and spoken texts.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form and in a manner that anticipates the audience\'s knowledge level and concerns.
In what ways have members of my community engaged in political activism?
Excerpts taken from the 9th grade Ethnic Studies chapter: Because of the interdisciplinary nature of this field, ethnic studies courses may take several forms. … However, central to any ethnic studies course is the historic struggle of communities of color, taking into account the intersectionality of identity (gender, class, sexuality, among others) to challenge racism, discrimination, and oppression and interrogate the systems that continue to perpetuate inequality. A course could focus in on the local community and examine the interactions and coalition-building among a number of ethnic and/or racial groups. In an ethnic studies course, students will become aware of the constant themes of social justice and responsibility, while recognizing these are defined differently over time. They can investigate the legacies of social movements and historic struggles against injustice in California, the Southwest, and the United States as a whole. The relationship between global events and an ethnic or racial group’s experience could be another area of study. In this vein, students could study how World War II drew African Americans from the South to California cities like Oakland and Los Angeles or examine a group’s transnational linkages.
Chapter 20 of the framework is dedicated to access and equity in history classrooms. This includes culturally responsive teaching, which encourages educators to recognize the cultural and experiential backgrounds of their students. Student learning increases when connections are made between their lived experiences and the content, when relevant, that is taught. It stresses that “it is important for students to see examples of members from their own … cultural and ethnic group [through] materials used regularly.”
With that in mind, this inquiry set highlights how a significant minority community in Los Angeles (and across the nation) continued to be deeply invested in homeland politics. Los Angeles has the largest population of Salvadorans outside of El Salvador. Here, the narrative is centered on a community that tends to be overlooked in history classrooms. There is much to learn about transnationalism, political organizing, and the history of US intervention in Central America by documenting the political activism of Salvadoran immigrants in America. Moving to the United States did not sever peoples’ political ties to the homeland for the Salvadoreñx diaspora. How and why Salvadoreñxs engaged in political activism during the 1980s helps us understand part of America’s ongoing immigrant story, of how and why newcomers settle in the United States.
The investigative question that students will answer in evaluating the primary sources is, In what ways did members of the Salvadoreñx community engaged in political activism during the 1980s? We are focusing on the 1980s because this decade saw the largest migration wave of Salvadorans to the United States, due to the political crises and civil wars that intensified in Central America at this time. This decade is of particular significance for Central American migration because half of the Central American population currently living in the United States arrived in the 1980s.
With this inquiry set, students will analyze how Salvadoreñxs continued to maintain political pressure on their homeland and transplanted political organizing to the United States. The political tools they used will give students insight into the civic values and responsibilities of this immigrant community in the homeland that were reestablished in the receiving country. Finally, students will interact with the primary sources by using critical thinking skills to formulate a response to the investigative question.
The purpose of the variety of primary sources is to appeal to different multiple intelligences and varying English language levels. Not only does the kinesthetic aspect of the gallery walk tap into a rarely used intelligence, but it also encourages intrapersonal processing between students. The photographs allow English learners to meaningfully participate in the learning process alongside their peers. Teachers can allow students as little or as much time as the class period and student dynamic allows for.
We recommend an activity from Facing History, Facing Ourselves. These are their Big Paper instructions: Big Paper Strategy from facing History and Ourselves
1. Select a stimulus for discussion.
First, you will need to select the “stimulus” — the material that students will respond to. A stimulus might consist of questions, quotations, historical documents, or excerpts from novels, poetry, or images. Groups can all be given the same stimulus for discussion, but more often they are each given a different text related to the same theme. This activity works best when students are working in pairs or triads. Each group also needs a sheet of big poster paper that can fit a written conversation and added comments. In the middle of each of these, tape or write the “stimulus” (image, quotation, excerpt, etc.) that will be used to spark the students’ discussion.
2. Prepare students.
Inform the class that this activity will be completed in silence. All communication is done in writing. Students should be told that they will have time to speak in pairs and in the large groups later. Go over all of the instructions at the beginning so that they do not ask questions during the activity. Also, before the activity starts, the teacher should ask students if they have questions, to minimize the chance that students will interrupt the silence once it has begun. You can also remind students of their task as they begin each new step.
3. Students comment on their group’s Big Paper.
Each group receives a Big Paper and each student gets a marker or pen. Some teachers have each student use a different color to make it easier to see the back-and-forth flow of a conversation. The groups read the text (or look at the image) in silence. After students have read, they are to comment on the text and ask questions of each other in writing on the Big Paper. The written conversation must start on the topic of the text but can stray wherever the students take it. If someone in the group writes a question, another member of the group should address the question by writing on the Big Paper. Students can draw lines connecting a comment to a particular question. Make sure students know that more than one of them can write on the Big Paper at the same time. The teacher can determine the length of this step, but it should be at least 15 minutes.
4. Students comment on other groups’ Big Papers.
Still working in silence, students leave their groups and walk around reading the other Big Papers. Students bring their marker or pen with them and can write comments or further questions for thought on other Big Papers. Again, you can determine the length of time for this step based on the number of Big Papers and your knowledge of the students. Students return to their group’s Big Paper, silence is broken. The groups reassemble back at their own Big Paper. They should look at any new comments written by others. Now they can have a free conversation about the text, their own comments, what they read on other papers, and the comments their fellow students wrote for them. At this point, you might ask students to take out their journals and identify a question or comment that stands out to them.
5. Discuss as a class.
Finally, debrief the process with the large group. The conversation can begin with a simple prompt such as, “What did you learn from doing this activity?” This is the time to delve deeper into the content and use ideas on the Big Papers to draw out students' thoughts. The discussion can also touch upon the importance and difficulty of staying silent and students’ level of comfort with this activity.
Related Resources / Materials
We encourage educators to familiarize themselves with the long history of US intervention in Latin America.
Book: Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America by Juan González
Film: Maria’s Story
- The Library of Congress. The Library of Congress’ Primary Source Analysis Tool supports an inquiry model of instruction by asking students to first observe, then reflect, then question. Their customizable tool includes specific prompts for student interrogation of books and other printed materials, maps, oral recordings, photographs and paintings, and many other types of primary sources.
- The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA has developed a vast collection of document analysis worksheets, ready for classroom use. Their website offers teachers a wide collection of customizable tools – appropriate for working with photographs, maps, written documents, and more. NARA has also customized their tools to meet the needs of young learners, and intermediate or secondary students.