By: Michael Hyel
B) Project Information and Standards List
1. Curriculum Project Profile
a. Project Title: Themes of Cesar Chavez
b. Grade levels : Kindergarten - Sixth grade
c. Curriculum areas: Language Arts , Social Studies and Visual Arts
2. Students: Twenty First Grade students of varying achievement levels including resource
students and English Language Learners successfully participated in this project.
3. What You Need: Read aloud books: Smokey Night, Click Clack Moo, Yoko, Wump World,
Swimmy, Potatoes, Potatoes, and Thank you Mr. Falkner. These can be checked outfrom the
local library. Resource Books: Learning About Justice from the Life of Cesar Chavez: by
Jeanne Strazzaabosco, Farmworker's Friend , The Story of Cesar Chavez by David R. Collins
and Somewhere Today A Book of Peace by Shelley Moore Thomas. These can be ordered from
most book stores.
Art book about the artist Rene Magritte
Art poster paintings by Rene Magritte
Water colors, crayons, magazine cut-outs, sentence strips , markers, envelopes
Poem: "These are the Memories" adapted from KC Kuoy Chhan (poem included in
Social Studies: 1.5 Students describe the human characteristics of familiar places and the
varied backgrounds of American citizens and residents in those places.
English /Language Arts: 1.0,Written and Oral English-Language Conventions: 1.1 Select
a focus when writing.
Visual Arts: 2.0, Creative Expression: 2.1 Use texture in two-dimensional and threedimensional
works of art.
C. Project Profile
1. How it Works
a) The Themes of Cesar Chavez is an integrated unit in which students from the First-Grade learn about the six themes of Cesar Chavez's life: non-violence, unions, treating people fairly, safe
food , education and respect. The students then use this information to create several poems, a story ,
and multi-media art project depicting the thematic aspects of Cesar Chavez' s life.
b) As an introduction, students are told that they will be studying about a special person who
First Step: Students help the teacher complete a chart to find out what they know
and what they want to learn (KWL chart) about Cesar Chavez. At the end of the unit students list
what they have learned. Throughout the unit, the students with facilitation from the classroom
teacher, process the KWL chart to see if information on the What We Know column is true or false.
If the information proves false, the correct information is added.
Second Step: A pictorial input of
Cesar Chavez (a pre traced drawing of his body that is outlined with a marker while students listen
to the classroom teacher talk about his life and list relevant information and key words about him on
the chart. ) This pictorial input stays in the classroom as a reference throughout the entire unit.
Daily read-alouds are then shared pertaining to each of the six themes.
Third Step : Students choose
magazine photo cut-outs that represent each theme of Chavez's life. These are saved in an envelope
to be used at a later time for a multi-media art project.
Fourth Step : AT-graph is used with the
students that shows what non-violence looks and sounds like. The students use this information to
write a framed poem based on the book Somewhere Today, A Book of Peace. Throughout the entire
unit , students collect teacher created Cesar Chavez trading cards that focus on the specific themes of
his life. On the front side of the trading card is a photo of Cesar Chavez and on the back side of the
trading card might be a sentence to the effect: Cesar Chavez wanted people e to solve their problems
in a peaceful way.
Fifth Step : A class paragraph is created from group sentence strips that relate to
photos of Cesar Chavez 's life that the teacher has passed out to students. The strip paragraph begin s
with the following sentence:" Cesar Chavez helped many people. " As group s complete their
sentences, the sentences are put in order to create the class paragraph.
Sixth Step: After sharing the
poem, "These are the Memories," students create their own poem.
Seventh Step: Using the
information they have learned about Cesar Chavez's life, students create a story with the four story
elements - character, setting, problem and solution. The unit culminates with a multi-medi a art
project. The students learn about and look at art prints by Rene Magritte. They then create a
surreal, multi-media project using their magazine cutouts, crayons, and watercolors. This multimedia
piece represents the six themes of his life. By using a variety of interactive graphic organizers
, creative writing, teacher created trading cards , and multi-media art, this unit is an innovative way
to teach and motivate students to learn.
c) We were insprited to develop this unit after attending a Project G.L.A.D. workshop
presented by Nancy Pohlod and Lisa Tate. Project G.L.A.D. stands for Guided Language
Acquisition Design which presents content academic language using visual graphic organizers. We
developed the Cesar Chavez unit from the sample unit on Literacy that was presented at the
workshop. By making curriculum accessible and building academic language, we want students to
have a better understanding of the themes of Cesar Chavez's life,and his contributions as a civil
rights leader and his advocacy for social justice and nonviolence.
2. Why It Works
a. The Themes of Cesar Chavez unit works because students are able to learn about an important
American citizen and the six themes of his life: non-violence, unions, treating people fairly,
safe food, education and respect. Cesar Chavez is quite literally, a natural springboard for
reading, writing, and artistic expression. By studying Cesar Chavez, students are presented with
opportunities to learn about the background of a famous American citizen. The unit makes
curriculum accessible by building academic language and building on prior knowledge.
Throughout the unit students are actively participating, learning vocabulary and comprehension
in a motivating low anxiety way. T-graphs, Cesar Chavez trading cards, charts and poems are
used to reinforce and organize information.
b. Students were assessed at the beginning and end of the unit with a KWL chart. The chart
compares and contrasts what they knew before the unit and what they learned from the unit.
This clearly shows the teachers and students what was learned. Students were also assessed
using a six-point rubric for their Learning Log with four points being the passing criteria.
c. At the beginning of the unit, by using the KWL chart, we discovered that our students knew
little or nothing about Cesar Chavez. All students were then introduced to the Themes of Cesar
Chavez. Students learned about the contribution that he made to our society and community and
how the life of one person can help the lives of many. The students also learned about how
these changes have made a difference in their lives . At the end of the unit, the class on average
was able to identify five of the six themes of Cesar Chavez. Every student was able to
successfully complete a multi -media art project of his life and complete "These are the
d. Parents were enthusiastic about the knowledge their children gained during this unit. Other
teachers in our grade level have requested this unit.
3. Adaptation Tips
a. This unit format can be used when studying any person or subject. It is especially helpful for
English learners and resource students . A good resource for adapting this unit is Is That a Fact?
Teaching Nonfiction Writing K-3, by Tony Snead, which can be ordered from Scholatic Press.
b. Teachers should use age appropriate resources (books, pictures, etc.) for their grade level.
E. For Team Grants only
Teresa Iturriria and Mike Heyl are first grade teachers. We developed this unit when we were
teaching partners, sharing the same classroom and same students. This year we each have our own
classroom and students and support each other and our students by continuing to meet and discuss
project implementations and on-going student learning of the major elements. Both teachers
present all parts of the Themes of Cesar Chavez lessons that are described in this application. The
students benefit from the variety of unique lessons that both teachers bring to the classroom setting.
F. Specialized Grants
John Greenleaf Whittier Award for Character Education
The Themes of Cesar Chavez is an integrated unit in which students from the First Grade learn
about the six themes of Cesar Chavez's life: non-violence, unions, treating people fairly, safe food,
education and respect. These themes are American core values . The students listen to stories about
Cesar Chavez's life, write stories and poems. Finally the First graders create a multimedia art
project depicting these core values. All these activities are done in a variety of student groupings.
First graders who study Chavez's life will learn how he worked to resolve problems through
peaceful means. By examining the life of Cesar Chavez, they understand how his cultural
experiences influenced his views on non-violence, honesty, respect, responsibility, tolerance and
Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau (SBCFB) Award
Cesar Chavez was an advocate for safe foods. He demonstrated this through his life long work of
educating migrant field workers of their responsibilities as immigrants, farm workers, and citizens.
Not only did he raise the awareness of the plight of a field worker, he educated the general public of
the role of a field worker, and the process of bringing safe food from the field, to the grocery store ,
and to the consumer' s table.