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8 Ways Teachers Are Celebrating Latino/a Joy & Achievement in the Classroom

Check out the creative ways teachers are celebrating the Latino heritage and culture throughout the school year.


Capturing the moment

In her project, I’m Proud of My Work, Let’s Take a Selfie!, Mrs. Combs has found a fresh new use for a standard classroom item: the printer.

“My students will be able to use the Canon Selphy printer to be able to document photos of the work they are most proud of…I will then be able to see that the student is proud of their work and take a picture of them holding up their work. I will have a specific place in our classroom to display their selfies.”

Encouraging students to celebrate themselves – and each other – can be as easy as hitting ‘print’.

Teaching each other

In her project, Proud of Our Origin, Ms. Lopez del Rio’s little learners get to teach each other about their heritage through play.

“Latino culture has a wide variety of board games that can be used in the classroom to enhance the value of Hispanic culture and the Spanish language. What better way to encourage cultural exchange and mutual respect than by playing games. Children of Latin origin will be able to teach their classmates Spanish vocabulary, traditions of their countries of origin, rules of these games, etc.

Empowering students to be the teacher, especially in a fun and engaging way, is an opportunity for students to feel proud of their Spanish language and heritage.

Sparking joy

Ms. LaBrant is celebrating her students by investing in the things that excite them. Her school book club is just starting its 3rd year, but has grown from just 6 students in its first year to 20+ students today. Her project, Perfect Book for Not Perfect Book Club, acknowledges her students’ passion for reading alongside the complexity and richness of their heritage.

“Our high school majority is low income and Spanish speaking, but our book club continues to grow. Please help me to encourage these students by providing them with a book they can keep.  This semester we will dive into "I am not your perfect Mexican daughter" by Erika Sanchez. This is a great story about discovering your heritage and embracing who you truly are. It will hit our students on several levels as a young adult novel, as a story about someone like them split between 2 cultures and as an intriguing mystery.”

Whether it’s books, robots, ceramics, or cooking supplies, going all in on students’ interests will exponentially increase classroom joy. 

Honoring Heroes

Mr. De La Cruz Rosales wanted to prepare his middle-schoolers for their informative writing unit project: A Just America Wax Museum. His project, Wax Museum Research PBL, provided them with representational reading resources that 

“My students, primarily, Latino, Filipino, and Black will feel validated and their experiences will be reflected in the works that have been selected for our classroom library. Representation is key and seeing main characters that have similar viewpoints characteristics and shared experiences will engage and motivate them to engage with literature.

A library of books that reflect students’ lived experiences can help foster a sense of pride and joy in students’ Latino heritage.

Finding the beauty

Teachers across the country are discovering cultural celebrations outside of the classroom.

Ms. Portugal took her Oakland students to a local production of “In the Heights”:

“One young lady, Nacia, said she could watch the play on repeat and at one point was brought to tears.”

Mrs. Jones took her students to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago:

“I continued to hear priceless feedback from the students like, ‘I can relate to so much here!’”

Whether it’s an in-person field trip, a virtual excursion, or tapping into the education resources of theaters and museums, Latino/a artists and creators provide an endless source of inspiration.

Showing up authentically

Ms. McGroarty’s project, Make A Spanish Speaker Out Of You

“I am very privileged that I get to teach Spanish classes to my amazing middle school students. Spanish was my first language so teaching my students how to speak, read, and write Spanish is very important to me. For me to complete this task correctly, I need access to specific materials to hand out to my students to provide success.”

Students of all ages and identities benefit from diversity in the classroom. When teachers feel supported in bringing their expertise and authentic selves to their teaching practice, everyone is better for it.

Leveling Up

Ms. Stewart’s students are outstanding Latino kids in the heart of Chicago. Through her project, 5th Graders Can Be Published Authors!, she’s investing in her students’ work by helping them feel professional and accomplished.

“Each year, my students create books for several different units of study…For every book they publish I struggle to come up with a great way to bind their work in a nice way. We have tried everything from pipe cleaners to rings to staples but none of that will look as nice as having them actually bound in this professional looking manner!

My 5th graders will be so proud of their books with the use of these materials! We showcase their books at our bi-annual parent teacher conferences where the kids present the things they are most proud of to their parents.”

Lamination and binding supplies are a low-cost way to help students feel immeasurably valued.

Throwing a Fiesta!

Honor Hispanic and Latino/a Heritage Month like Dr. Puicon did with her project, Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Books, decorations, t-shirts, and posters created a grade level-wide celebration of all of the wonderful diversity within the larger Hispanic community.

“These supplies will ensure we close out the month in a celebratory fashion, and the remaining supplies will allow us to continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage throughout the academic year. Thank you for your contributions and for supporting the students this year.”

And like Dr. Puicon, Latino/a joy and achievement in the classroom can – and should – be celebrated all school year long.

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