Sí Se Puede: The Migrant Workers' Movement

While learning about the California migrant farm workers' fight for justice led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, students learn to make connections and think about cause and effect.



Unit 4

5th Grade

This unit has been archived. To view our updated curriculum, visit our 5th Grade English Language Arts course.

Unit Summary

In this unit, students study the California migrant farm workers’ fight for justice. Led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, this time period is often referred to as the start of the Latino civil rights movement. Throughout the unit, students will explore what life was like for migrant farm workers in the 1960s and the barriers that prevented them from obtaining better wages and equitable working conditions. Students will then learn about how the farm workers were able to band together under the leadership of Larry Itliong, Cesar Chavez, and Dolores Huerta to launch a multi-year movement focused on using nonviolent tactics as a way of making meaningful, long-lasting change. In particular, students will analyze how different types of nonviolent protests (boycotts, pickets, marches, strikes, and fasting) helped educate the public and influence change. Understanding the history of migrant farm workers and their struggle for justice is important for helping students understand the world around them. It is important to note that this unit is based on history. Many of the ideas and concepts in this unit are connected to current events; however, the focus of the unit is on this period in history. 

This unit helps students continue to build their informational reading skills. Unlike previous units, this unit contains a variety of primary sources and videos that require students to use different reading, speaking, and listening strategies in order to synthesize and summarize key ideas. Using all of the text types from the unit, students learn how to think about chronology and cause and effect when explaining the relationship or interaction between two or more individuals, events, ideas or concepts. Students also explore how the purpose and point of view of a text influence the type of information an author provides. 

When discussing the text, students continue to work on elaborating and supporting their own ideas, using examples and evidence to justify their own thinking. Doing so sets students up for success with discourse in later units when students are pushed to engage with the thinking of others. Students continue to work on building their writing fluency by writing daily in response to the Target Task questions and writing informational paragraphs and essays. Over the course of the unit, students hone their informational writing strategies building up to the culminating informational projects. 

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials


These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

  • What was life like for migrant farm workers in the 1960s? What barriers did they face in order to obtain better working conditions? Wages? 
  • What were some of the key moments in the migrant farm workers' fight for justice? 
  • Who were Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta? What strategies did they use to make meaningful, long-lasting change?
  • How did the farm workers use different types of nonviolent protest to educate the public and push for change? 

Reading Focus Areas

  • To explain the relationship or interaction between two or more individuals, events, ideas or concepts, readers need to think about the chronological order of events.

  • To explain the relationship or interaction between two or more individuals, events, ideas or concepts, readers need to think about what happened and why.

  • The purpose and point of view of a text influence the type of information presented.

Writing Focus Areas

Informational Writing

  • Conduct research on a topic.

  • Introduce a topic and write a strong topic sentence or statement.

  • Group related information logically.

  • Develop the topic with facts, definitions, details, and quotations.

  • Link ideas and information using words, phrases, and clauses.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Prepare for discussion.

  • Elaborate to support ideas. Provide evidence or examples to justify and defend a point clearly.

  • Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share their thoughts.



activism agitator agony bargain boycott commitment committee crop disband dispute dignity dramatic dumbfounded dues equality exploitation grass-roots organization grass-roots grievance growers harvest hostile huelga injustice inventiveness inhumane intimidation labor unions labor latinx legitimize negotiate nonviolence nucleus opposition painstaking pesticides publicity relentless scuffle strike sympathetic tactic treatment treasury unity urge visibility vulnerable


-ism -ment -or -tion in- non-

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 4, view our 5th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Content Knowledge and Connections

Notes for Teachers

  • The questions on this unit's Cold Read Assessment reference the article, "A Brief History of American Farm Labor" (930L) by Smithsonian Magazine, adapted by Newsela staff (see unit materials). Be sure to include this article with the assessment.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards


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