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        Why Organize?: Lesson Plan | Dolores

        In this lesson, students will examine how people can use the tools of organizing to make all kinds of changes that will improve their communities and nations. Students will learn more about the United Farm Workers (UFW) grape boycott depicted in Dolores and the changes that emerged from it. Students will delve into the theory behind organizing and the potential of it as a tool for social change.

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

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        Lesson Summary

        Opening Quote

        “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute, a chance to save the world.” - Dolores Huerta

        ELL Strategy: Project the quote and hand out cards with the quote printed out. Have students read the card in pairs or small groups and discuss. If questions arise have students share their questions with the class.

        Students will examine how people can use the tools of organizing to improve their communities and nations using the United Farm Workers grape boycott and the changes that emerged from it as an example.

        Time Allotment

        One 60 minute class period. 

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

        Prep for Teachers

        Students will:

        ● Discuss the concept of community organizing and what it can accomplish.

        ● Learn more about what Dolores Huerta and the UFW organizers accomplished through the 1965-1970 worker’s strike and grape boycott.

        ● Understand the strategies and tactics that movements use to create social change.


        1. Lesson 3 - Clip 4: Power of Organizing (length 2:59)

        Description: This segment explores the effectiveness and power of the Farm Worker’s Union spearheading the organizing work of knocking on doors, registering voters at the door, and other organizing methods that are still in use today. The segment celebrates the impossible odds of the grape strike, the power of organizing to change policy, and of reaching up to the national level with the support of Robert Kennedy. 

        2. Access online to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Primary Source Set about the United Farm Workers and the Delano Grape Boycott.

        3. Access to the internet for research into community organizing strategies and examples.

        4. Copies of Appendix A.

        5. Project Slide and/or Cards prepared for: 

        Opening Quote and Intro Activity Step 1 (Quote)

        Introductory Activity

        What is community organizing?

        1. Read this definition of community organizing from the American Civil Liberties Union’s publication, Organizing: People, Power, Change

        Organizing is leadership that enables people to turn the resources they have into the power they need to make the change they want.

        And this quote from Dolores Huerta from Dolores:

        “The reason for the existence of the union was to try to get power for the powerless. The farm workers don’t have any power to solve any of their own economic and social problems. They’re faced by not only economic discrimination and social, but also racial discrimination.” 

        ELL Strategy: Project the definition and quote and hand out cards with both printed out. Have students read the cards in pairs or small groups and discuss. If questions arise have students share their questions with the class.

        Discuss the following questions:

        ● What do you understand about community organizing from these quotes? 

        ● Describe community organizing in your own words.

        ● What are examples that you know of or can imagine when a group of people might come together to make a change in their community?

        ● (If class completed the Intersectionality lesson) What are the ways the farm workers’ different identities intersected to make gaining rights more challenging?

        ● How are these examples different from the ways that people who are in power, or who have lots of money, make change?

        2. Introduce the  list of Key Terms for this lesson. 

        Boycott - Withdraw from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest.

        Discrimination - The act of making or perceiving a difference

        Ignite - To set in motion, spark

        Union - An organized association of workers formed to protect and further their rights and interests; a labor union.

        Revolution - A sudden or complete change

        Strike - A refusal to work organized by a body of employees as a form of protest, typically in an attempt to gain a concession or concessions from their employer.

        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 creating 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. 


        Learning Activities

        1. Watch the clip Power of Organizing. As students are watching, ask them to take notes about what they are seeing and be able to share out their notes with the class 

        1) words they don’t know

        2) questions that arise

        3) things they would like to learn more about

        ELL Strategy: Have students create a table with three columns. On the top of  each column use these headlines: 

        Column 1: Words They Don’t Know 

        Column 2: What Questions Arise

        Column 3: Things They Want to Know More About

        Show the first minute of Power of Organizing and pause. Model for students how to fill out the the table with just the first minute of the video clip as an example. After showing the first minute, have students watch the rest of the clip and continue to build out their chart.

        2. Explore Primary Sources: Robert F. Kennedy’s support for the UFW came in the midst of the farm worker’s strike and the 1965-1970 National Grape Boycott. Ask students to explore the Primary Source Set from DPLA about the UFW and Delano Grape Strike: 

        a. What do you gain from these primary resources that is different from reading a newspaper article or other summary?

        b. Why did the farm workers go on strike?

        c. Who or what were they striking against?

        d. What are the risks the workers faced from going on strike?

        e. Why was the strike not successful on its own? How did the boycott and the strike work together?

        f. What is the long-term impact of the strike and boycott?

        g. Why were these strategies and tactics effective? 

        If students have completed the Understanding Intersectionality lesson, include a question about how they saw the different social movements of the time working together to succeed.

        3. Analyzing Organizing Strategies: In the clip and in the DPLA resources, several community organizing strategies and tactics are discussed. As a large group, discuss these strategies that the UFW used, what each one is, and whether they were used and/or effective in the case of the UFW strike:

        h. Town hall meetings

        i. House meetings

        j. Door-to-door canvassing

        k. Strike

        l. Boycott

        m. Marching

        Ask students to identify additional strategies they have seen individuals or groups use to make social change. These strategies may include:

        n. Letters to the editor

        o. Social media campaigns

        p. School walk-outs

        ELL Strategy: One helpful exercise would be to create and Semantic Feature Analysis Chart to understand the organizing concepts better. Example chart here


        Culminating Activity


        1. Have students identify a challenge in their school or community they would like to address. From the tactics and strategies defined, which would they use and why? 

        Fred Ross, Dolores’ mentor and the organizer of the Community Service Organization wrote, “A good organizer is a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire.”  With that in mind, write the messages, script and words students  would use to convince others in joining them in creating the change they would like to see. 

        2. Read more about the life and assassination of Robert F Kennedy, and what it meant to the active social movements of the time.

        3. Study the philosophy of non-violence as it applies to social movements, starting with Gandhi’s work fighting colonial rule in India.



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