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        The Complexity of Identity: Lesson Plan | Dolores

        In this lesson, students will use Dolores Huerta’s story as a backdrop to explore the complexity of identity. Students will examine aspects of their personal identity, factors that contribute to their identity formation as an individual, and how identity shapes one’s values, relationships and opportunities.

        Note to Educator: The topic of national identity and citizenship can be sensitive for many students and families. Dolores Huerta and her story provide an opportunity to bridge this conversation and illustrate how one’s identity can cross over and be affected by many sectors and affiliations, including gender, ethnicity, religion and nationality.

        Additional strategies for supporting ELL learners are included throughout this lesson.

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        Lesson Summary

        Opening Quotes:

        “Revolution starts with self-love in the sense that if you're a member of an oppressed people, an oppressed class, you have to develop self-respect and that starts by developing some affection for who you are.” - Luis Valdez, Dolores

        “First time I opened up Time Magazine, a little picture of a march and all the people out there looked like me. That first impact was huge. So, the farmworker was a catalyst and ignited a personal and community-wide self-evaluation of who we were as a people.”  

        - Raul Grijalva, Dolores

        ELL Strategy: Project these quotes or hand out cards with these quotes from the film printed out and read aloud. Have students read the cards in pairs or small groups and discuss. If questions arise, have students share questions and discuss in class.

        Students will learn about Dolores Huerta’s story and examine the factors that contributed to her identity as a woman, mother, activist, and as an American, to inform exploration of their own identities

        Time Allotment

        One 60 minute class period. 

        For ELL class, two 60 minute class periods are recommended.

        Learning Objectives

        Students will:

        ● Learn about Dolores Huerta and the complexity of her identity

        ● Consider the formation of self-identity

        ● Investigate how community and cultural perception influence self identity


        1. Clip 1: Origins of a Leader’s Voice (length 2:34)

        Description: Overview of Dolores Huerta’s background and the work she continues to be involved in. Covers her upbringing and how she challenged the expectations of a Latina woman.

        2. Clip 2: Complexity of Identity and Chicano Power

        2a: Farmworkers Spark a Cultural Revolution: (length 2:45) 

        2b: Self-Love and Self Respect Build Movements: (length 2:17)

        Description: These film segments explore the idea of Chicano representation and the power of seeing yourself in the public and political landscape including seeing Latinos organizing and marching together. The segments also examine the conception of what is beauty from a gender and cultural perspective. 

        3. Copies of Appendix A

        4. Project Slide and/or Cards prepared for  Opening Quote, Step 3 (Quotes), Step 5 (Questions.)

        Introductory Activity

        1. Introduce the term identity to your class. Have students write down words they think describe what this term means and then as a class, brainstorm a working definition of the term.

        ELL Strategy: Model for your class the concept of identity by showing 4-5 pictures of yourself or  images that reflect facets of your identity. You may also want to bring in artifacts that represent important parts of your identity. Describe to students why you choose what you did and how they reflect this concept of identity. Teachers can also refer to these best practice strategies for differentiating instruction and for increasing vocabulary fluency. 

        2. View Clip 1: Origins of a Leader’s Voice - (length 2:34)

        Discussion Prompts:

        ● Based on what you just watched in the film, who is Dolores Huerta? 

        Share out characteristics you saw and heard in a Think-Pair-Share format using these sentence stems to spark their discussion. 

        (1) Dolores described herself as. . .

        (2) I connected with Dolores’ . . .

        (3) Dolores was inspired by . . . 

        ELL Strategy: It may also be helpful to read aloud this short biography of Dolores Huerta from the Dolores Huerta Foundation website after viewing the clip. Have students turn and do a Think-Pair-Share with the classmates. This will help to reinforce students' understanding of her life and work.

        For example:

        Think about what they learned about Dolores Huerta and write down some ideas to share with a partner.

        Pair up with a classmate that you assign or have students choose their own.

        Share their reflections about their thinking.

        Learning Activities

        In this part of the lesson, students will examine their personal identity and answer the question, “Who am I?” 

        Discuss with students that identity can describe a person’s distinct individual characteristics, describe their interests and hobbies and also be used to describe how their shared affiliations contribute to a community identity. 

        Refer back to the images or artifacts you explained earlier that described or illustrated facets of your individual identity and ask students to add other words or ideas that would describe your community identity.

        1. Introduce Key Terms for the lesson on identity that connect to the story and life of Dolores Huerta. These words are terms that are relevant to this lesson, may be considered academic vocabulary, and may be new terms for ELL learners.  

        Catalyst - a person or thing that causes a change

        Inferior - less important or poorer quality

        Oppressed - to be crushed by abuse of power 

        Self-love - caring about one’s own happiness and well being

        ELL Strategy: Have students complete a Word Knowledge Continuum (Appendix A) to begin increasing student fluency and understanding of these terms used in Dolores.  This exercise enables even students with very little background knowledge of these terms to participate in the class conversation.

        For higher level ELL learners create a word web (or word map) whereby students place the word in the middle and place examples or helpful clues around the term. For native English speakers,  have students create a word web with  synonyms and antonyms in the graphic organizer or consider adapting The Frayer Model for building student vocabulary.

        Encourage Higher level ELL learners to write down their thinking as they acquire greater language fluency such as creating a sentence using the word that is relevant to their personal experience. For example:


        ❖ The recent incidents of school gun violence at Sandy Hook Elementary and in Parkland, Florida were a catalyst for me to learn more about our nation’s gun policy. 


        ❖ Because Dolores Huerta and other Latino and Latina men and women, were treated as inferior by many of their employers, the United Farm Workers Union was established.


        ❖ Dolores Huerta worked tirelessly on behalf of oppressed farmworkers.


        ❖ Self-worth and self-love can be ways to describe a positive way of thinking about your identity.

        2. View Clip 2: Complexity of American Identity and Chicano Power

        After watching the clips, discuss the following questions in a Think-Pair-Share format:

        ● What factors or influences did you hear Dolores’ children talk about that determined their identity? 

        ● How did the farm worker movement influence and change the way people interviewed saw themselves?

        3. In their Voices: Using Quotes from the Film

        ELL Strategy: Hand out cards with these quotes from the film printed out. Read aloud first and then have students read the cards in pairs or small groups and discuss. If questions arise, have students share their questions and discuss in class.

        “ We are Indio, Mestiço, Hispano, Mexicano. The names have all been changed across the centuries, but they all mean the same thing. We have been Americanos longer than America has existed.” -Male speaking, Dolores

        “First time I opened up Time Magazine, a little picture of a march and all the people out there looked like me. That first impact was huge. So, the farmworker was a catalyst and ignited a personal and community-wide self-evaluation of who we were as a people.” 

        -Raul M. Grijalva, Dolores

        “Revolution starts with self-love in the sense that if you're a member of an oppressed people, an oppressed class, you have to develop self-respect and that starts by developing some affection for who you are. You love your family and you say, “Okay, but why does the world regard them as inferior? Why does the world regard them as ugly when, in my eyes, you're quite beautiful?”  -Luis Valdez, Dolores

        4. Think, Pair, Share: Ask students to choose one quote that reflects how they think about their own identity. Assign students to work in pairs, or to choose their own partner, and engage in a Think, Pair, Share discussion using these prompts:  

        ● Think about each quote and be able to share why students chose the quote they did. For ELL students it may also be helpful to write down their reasons as a helpful tool to share their thinking. 

        ● Pair up with a classmate that you assign or have students choose their own.

        ● Share their reflections about their thinking.

        ELL Strategy: Be sensitive to learners' needs (reading skill, attentional skills, language skill) when creating pairs. Allow students to choose who will share with the whole group. You may elect to have ELL students write their thinking out as they prepare for a Think, Pair, Share. Encourage students to circle/underline unfamiliar words in the quotes and have access to a dictionary.

        5. Identity Mapping:  After learning about Dolores and reflecting on how others in the film talked about her identity, students will build their own identity maps. Have students draw a circle in the middle with six circles around it.

        Explain that all people build their identities in many ways including their role in their family group, their religion, their passion for art, music or writing, their political beliefs, their sexual and gender identity, their language, ethnicity, nationality, and other characteristics. Have students write their names in the middle circle, and then in the other circles, write words or draw pictures they would use to describe themselves. Students are free to add as many circles as they want. 

        After completing their identity maps, organize students in small groups Pass out one card per student that has one of the following questions printed out. In pairs or small groups have students describe what they wrote in their circles using these discussion questions:

        ● Which of these identities do you feel most strongly at school? At home? At your place of worship? Why do you think that might change?

        ● Which of these identities are related to or connected to one another? For example, is your religious identity related to your family role?

        ● Do any of your identities conflict with one another? Does something you identify as or do at school conflict with something you’ve learned at home?

        ● How might you fill in the circles differently if you’re asked how others see your identity?

        Explain to students that the way your identity is seen by others affects your day to day life and  expose you to different kinds of discrimination or bias, like racism, sexism, classism, etc.  Refer back to the pictures, images, or artifacts that you shared at the beginning of the lesson that described your identity and share one example. 

        The term “Intersectionality” is defined in the Oxford Dictionaries as “The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” 

        Project or hand out this infographic that visually explains and helps to clarify intersectionality. 

        Create your own identity map that illustrates intersectionality using both words and images to convey how facets of your identity “intersect” with other aspects of your identity. Ask students to create a second set of identity circles that may overlap or connect to reflect how their different identities intersect and influence how they experience the world. 

        *Note to teachers: Lesson Two created for Dolores,  “The Intersectionality of Social Movements,” is an excellent continuation of this conversation, talking about how struggles for rights of different groups are interrelated, and how they supported one another in the film.

        ELL Strategy: You may also want to post words relating to the identities of your students around the room to support students understanding. For example, son/daughter/mother/father, soccer player, musician, cook, country of origin, religion, newcomer, etc.  

        *Note to teachers: Explorations of individual identity can surface a range of emotions and memories. This activity can be adapted in a variety of ways including allowing students to keep this list private, to share their list with the class, to bring in an artifact that represents/illustrates/celebrates their identity, etc. 


        Culminating Activity

        6. Closing: Dolores was born in the United States. Her relationship to what it is to be American is complex, given her Native roots, her Chicana identity, and her activism. 

        End the lesson by dividing students into pairs with one student assigned to read the role of the interviewer and one to be Dolores Huerta. After reading the parts, have each student complete the Exit Ticket question to end the lesson.

        ELL Strategy: Handout roles to students and let small groups discuss the question before each student completes an Exit Ticket in writing.

        Female Interviewer: You were a young girl, growing up in America in the ‘40s. You must have had a dream. 

        Dolores Huerta: I guess my only dream was just to be accepted. I think that’s what a lot of young children feel, just to be accepted for what you are and that’s not possible. 

        Female Interviewer: Tell me when you were first aware of having a social conscience. 

        Dolores Huerta: I think that I felt it very deeply as a teenager and it was mostly because of the police brutality against Mexicans and Blacks, the kids that I grew up with and you find out that the justice, it’s not there. The equality isn’t there. 

        Exit Ticket: What is your reaction to this short interview? What would you like to say to Dolores if you were to meet her tomorrow?


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