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IMGALTTAG Volume I: Contemporary Latin America:  Culture and Civilization


Racial Issues In Brazil: Is There Truly a Racial Democracy?
Adjua Z.M. Adama
Oliver High School

Is there racism in Brazil - the type of racism the world has become accustomed to hearing from the mouths of African descendants in the United States and in South Africa? Is there a racial democracy in Brazil – the idea that if people are not provided an equal opportunity toward social advancement, this is not due to any racial discrimination? There, apparently, seems to be two sides to this issue.

With this in mind, it is necessary that students understand key concepts and terms. They need to understand that prejudice is just someone’s prejudgment, for whatever reason, which may not necessarily have to deal with race. Racism, as the suffix "-ism" suggests, is systemic racial hatred; hatred and discrimination that have become public policy and social norms. Students must also understand how people on both sides of this token economy have bought into its dictates. How have whites come to believe that they were the superior race over the years, and how have blacks come to believe it as well – which begins to foster the phenomenon of light-skinned blacks discriminating against dark-skinned blacks. This has been quite an occurrence within the U.S., but is a substantial issue in Brazil as well. Only systemic racism can breed the peculiar traditions centered around interracial racism, which is rarely discussed among laymen race scholars.


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The Diversity of Latin American Music and the Musical Influences of Other Regions
By Henry L. Biggs
Rogers School for the Creative and Performing Arts

Southward from the Isthmus of Panama stretches the second great continent of the New World. From its northernmost point in Colombia, some 830 miles north of the equator, it spans more than 40 degrees of latitude to its southernmost point – Cape Horn. This vast land mass encompasses many regional types, mountains, deserts, and pampas (grasslands). This is the continent of South America.

Latin American Music is very diverse in the Americas, Mexico and The Caribbean. There are many regions in South America, Central America and Mexico and the Caribbean that contain a rich variety of cultural and musical heritages. These diversities were not born only out of these countries alone, but were created over a period of time stemming from many years of travelers coming to and from the area. The countries representing Latin American present cultural traits mainly inherited from the Iberian Peninsula. However, in the following lessons, the students will discover how Latin American music became so vast in its musical style. There were many outside influences that helped to create the Latin American music that we know of today. The Spanish conquest had a profound affect in the development of this "new world" music. The path that Columbus took in order to reach his planned destination, and the eventually influx of other countries sailing west to reach this new region had its influences in the development of Latin American Music.


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Latin American Literature Inclusion in the High School English Classroom
Antoinette W. Brunger
Allderdice High School

This unit is two-fold in that it will serve as Latin American Literature inclusion in the 9th and 12th grade classrooms. Through a study of Latin short stories, essays, and poems, students will become more aware and knowledgeable of the interconnection among all peoples, that universality in all fine literature, which proclaim us citizens of the world.


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20th Century Latin American Art: Critical Issues of Influence
Cynthia DeFilippo
Pittsburgh Middle Gifted Center

20th Century Latin American Art: Critical Issues of Influence" is the title of my curriculum unit for the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute. It was developed from the seminar, "Latin America; Culture and Civilization. This curriculum unit will develop how the European Styles, indigenism, social realism and surrealism influenced the Latin American Artist. It will also develop the influence of political and social issues, which directly influenced the subject matter of many Mexican muralists. This study and research will lead to a curriculum unit based on the various influences in the art of Latin America in the 20th century.

I will then develop lessons and art activities for my students, which constitute a similar influence and method. This curriculum unit will be designed for Middle School students.


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Making Connections: Latino-Caribbean Literature
Dr. Marlene Gardner

The concept of making connections is important in both teaching and learning. Much of teaching consists of helping students find connections and learning involves making connections among the various aspects of content areas. Cultural connections and literary themes have independent connections for teachers and for students.

Within my current curriculum, an anthology entitled Latino-Caribbean Literature, edited by Virginia Seeley is included. The text emphasizes definitions of narrative writing, expository writing and poetry and the anthology is organized in the following way: four expository selections, four narrative selections, a poetry section and an edited play. This curriculum unit, intended for use with eighth grade students, will incorporate information about the setting (historical time frame and place), the authors, and the theme of identity relative to the selections in the text. The curriculum unit supports the Pittsburgh Public Schools Communications Standards and the focus will be on the reading (standard 2) and the writing (standard 4) standards; Citizenship Standards and Arts and Humanities Standards are also involved in the unit. Technology and internet resources are used to enhance the depth and range of available information. The anthology will be the starting point for numerous connections within the area of study.


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Negrismo
A Theme for Improving Self-Image in the Spanish Classroom For Black History Week
By David Ghogomu
Allderdice High School

This curriculum is on Negrismo, an Afro-Latino political, economic, cultural—but mostly literary movement, identical to the Francophone African movement Négritude, both of which movements not only scandalized the state of blacks in white-controlled environments, but also exposed the positive and resilient nature of the same down-trodden people over the years—through colonization, enslavement, emancipation and discrimination. From within this movement sprouted ideas and ideals for, and about these people, their generation, their children and their land. They claimed to see the light within themselves, and believed they were not only a good, and god-fearing people, but also smart, strong, beautiful, capable, etc., as they looked back to their motherland, Africa, as having everything godly, just, natural, and breath-taking.

The aim of the curriculum unit is to expose black students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, especially those who feel alienated in a foreign language classroom, to these ideals and ideas. Students exposed to Negrismo through this curriculum will meet these ideals, teachings, and directions in the writings of black authors writing in Spanish. Feelings of alienation for black students in a Spanish class should therefore be minimized by introduction of these black authors who write in Spanish glorifying things and people of black and African origin and also instructing blacks in many positive ways.


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The Legacies of Mexican Artists, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and Their Influences on Mexican Culture
Joanne Marie Hattrup
Burgwin Elementary School

This curriculum unit is designed for a fourth grade art class that will focus on the legacies of two prominent Mexican artists, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. It gives an overview of Diego’s influence on Mexican culture and Kahlo’s role in promoting Mexican culture during the 20th Century. The purpose is to provide students with a framework to understand both folk art and mural painting. To accomplish this, I will establish the connections these artists had to Mexican folk art and to Mexican murals. Both artists loved Mexico and focused on the concept of identity; Rivera’s pursuit of it was for his country, whereas Kahlo desired it more for herself on a personal level.


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Learning la Latin American Vida
By Alexis Kilgore
Fort Pitt Elementary School

The goal of this curriculum unit is to educate pre-school students about the importance of culture, specifically Latin American cultures. First defining what culture is and then offering students a variety of experiences with various aspects of life in Latin American countries will accomplish this task. The students will be able to connect these cultural experiences with ones in their own life. It will also provide ideas for pre-school teachers to integrate a multicultural awareness component into their curriculum.


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Our Latin Neighbors-Refused at the Gate
Diana Lininger
Arsenal Middle School

The fastest growing minority in the United States today is Hispanic. Economic and political reasons have forced many Hispanic people to come to the United States in search of a better life. Many Hispanics have been here since before the Pilgrims landed at Pilgrim rock. More Hispanics have immigrated to the United States than Europeans did when they came through Ellis Island. Many settled lands in the Southwest in the infancy of this country. Open borders allowed people to come into the United States and then return home as they willed. Hispanics have now gained a voice in government and have careers that have elevated them to the middle class. However, as the United States placed immigration controls on the number of people entering, many people entered the country as illegal aliens. These people work in domestic, factory, and farm work.

The sixth grade Social Studies curriculum has the study of Latin America incorporated into it. I teach Communications in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. I will be collaborating with the Social Studies Teachers as they teach their unit on Latin America. My students and I will read literature dealing with the different ways that Latinos have become a part of our society. We will read stories about Mexican-American children and how they deal with normal school activities. We will read about children of migrant workers. We will read about children who have to leave their family and travel to the U.S. as illegal aliens. We will read poetry and stories written by Hispanic authors. This literature will enable my students to respond to what they have read by writing reports and creating power point presentations, writing persuasive letters, and writing poetry. Hopefully, this will help my students to make links with our Latin neighbors.


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Escape to Latin America
By Hannah McCarthy

The curriculum unit "Escape to Latin America", written for sixth grade social studies classes refine skills from different disciplines. The unit is enhances the sixth grade curriculum currently being used in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The goal of the unit is for the students to develop an extensive project on Latin America. The main objective is for the students to cooperatively work in-groups to research and create an oral presentation on a Latin American country. This unit also touches on various state standards.


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Putting the Puzzle Together: Art, Literature and History of Latin America
By Mary Eileen Swazuk
Taylor Allderdice High School

The addition of art, literature and particularly poetry infuses the study of history and culture with tangible connections that bring facts and concepts to life. This curriculum unit contains 5 combinations of Latin American art, literature and history/culture which are designed to be presented together. This is less a series of specific lesson plans and more of an open-ended narrative since the intended audience includes more than Spanish teachers. The curriculum is designed to encourage teachers of a variety of courses to adapt the information presented to use in their own classes, either in Spanish or in English. All students, from the most active and curious to the least motivated should find something to excite them when provided the opportunity to explore Latin American art and literature and history as interconnected pieces of a puzzle.


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Exploring Twentieth Century Latin America Through Film
Karen L. Haller
Schenley High School

The purpose of this unit is to introduce students, of any discipline, to the cultural aspects of various Latin American countries through film. Though designed for use in a Spanish class, the unit is adaptable, as it touches upon other disciplines, namely history, literature, and music. In the unit, students will use films as a tool to further their research of any of the aforementioned areas. The unit includes three films, La historia oficial (The Official Story), Eréndira, and The Buena Vista Social Club. Each lesson includes watching a film, discussing that film as one group, and in smaller groups, and independent research on the topic covered in the film. The entire curriculum unit can be taught in segments over the course of the year.


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Chile: 1960 - 1990
By Marsha Plotkin
Taylor Allderdice High School

The curriculum unit has been designed as a cultural supplement to language learning (grammar, vocabulary, etc...) in high school Spanish III classes. The curriculum is not meant to replace the existing Spanish III curriculum based on the oral proficiency standard, rather it takes a magnified look at a specific time period in Chile. During this time of tremendous political activity, Chile became the first country in Latin America to elect a Socialist president in 1970, only to see it fall to a violent golpe de estado (coup d’etat) three years later. The curriculum unit will examine events leading up to the election of Dr. Salvador Allende, the overthrow of his government with the covert help of the Nixon administration, and the ensuing rule of the military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet. The geography of Chile and a brief history of pre-conquest and colonial Chile are also included in this unit. Additionally, students will listen to music by Chilean musicians Victor Jara, Inti-Illimani and Los Prisioneros and understand the importance of their music during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Finally, students will read poems by Chile’s two Nobel Prize winning poets, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda. Neruda was active politically and became a senator during the Allende presidency. Although Mistral died in 1957, she was an influential figure in Chile. Prior to gaining fame from her poetry, Mistral was a teacher. One of her students was Pablo Neruda. She recognized his early talents and encouraged him to continue writing.


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Latin American Literature: Revelation and Revolution
By Constance Weiss
Schenley High School

The focus of this unit is both on the literature of Latin America and the cultures out of which it grew. Given the facts of a conquered people and the conquerors living together; land and wealth held by a small percentage of the people, it is not surprising that despite the differences, one common theme will be revolution.

We will study the literature basically of Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Central America, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Our reading will be accompanied by an immersion into the culture with art and music forming pieces of the workshop/learning station milieu.


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Chatham University
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IMGALTTAG Pittsburgh Teachers Institute
Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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