A lesson plan based on the article about George’s exploration of Latino culture in the September 2004 issue of L.A. Youth.

By Libby Hartigan, Managing Editor

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Language arts
Overview of lesson plan: Students will discuss ways to learn more about our multi-cultural community.
Suggested time allowance: 45 min.-1 hr.

Objective: Students will develop critical thinking skills while exploring new ideas about diversity.

Resources and material:
— pens, paper
— copies of L.A. Youth September 2004 issue (one per student)
— blackboard or whiteboard

Write "Diversity" on the board. What is diversity? What kinds of diversity are represented in your classroom? Many Los Angeles classes have racial, gender, age and socio-economic diversity. Students (or their families) come from different countries, and have had different experiences. Ask the students to help you make a list of some of the different kinds of students represented in your classroom.

Many schools and community leaders have adopted programs to promote tolerance. But students don’t have to wait until Black History Month or Hispanic Heritage Month to learn about other cultures. What are some ways that students are already learning about others? Write some of their ideas on the board. They might include:
• meeting new people
• tasting unfamiliar foods
• listening to someone else’s music
• tuning in to a radio station that you don’t usually listen to
• learning words in other languages
• attending school with different people
• having friends from different races
• reading the news about other countries
• reading books by foreign authors

Reading. Have the students read the article about George’s experiences learning about Latino culture on pages 24-25.

How did George learn about Latino culture? Ask students to make a list of all the ways that George was exposed to the different culture. Once they are done with the lists, ask them to read out their answers and write them on the board. They may observe some of the following:
• he lived in Baldwin Park, a predominately Latino neighborhood
• he hung out with Latino friends at their houses
• he tried delicious Mexican food like tamarindo
• he went to a quinceañera
• he joined Mecha, a Latino club
• he learned that Latinos were planning a boycott
• he learned that illegal immigrants can’t have driver’s licenses
• he learned that some of his friends had relatives who were not legal immigrants
• he learned that Latinos have faced discrimination, like his teacher who was once wrongly accused of plagiarism.

You could point out that initially, George learned about things that are easily accessible, like trying Mexican food. As he spent more time with Latino people, he learned about the discrimination they faced because of their skin color. Why do your students think it took longer for George to become aware of that? Maybe it was harder for him to see it because, when he was growing up, he was never discriminated against, and he didn’t see people around him being discriminated against.

Extension activity:
After discussing the ways in which students are already learning about other cultures, and analyzing George’s process of understanding Latino experiences, what else could your students do to build awareness of diversity?

Ask students to set a personal goal for learning about others, and outline a plan to achieve it. The plan should include specific actions they can take. Share the plans with the class and set a deadline for meeting the goal.