Sí Se Puede: The Migrant Worker's 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 Summary

In this unit students study the California migrant farm workers’ fight for justice. Lead by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, this time period is often referred to as the start of the Latino civil rights movement. Over the course of 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 in 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. 

In reading, this unit helps students continue to build their informational reading skills. Over the course of the unit students will be pushed to think about the connection between two or more historical events and people. Unlike previous units, this unit contains a variety of primary sources and videos that require students to use different reading and speaking and listening strategies in order to synthesize and summarize key ideas.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • 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? 

Vocabulary

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Text-based

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

Root/Affix

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

To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 5th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

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Notes for Teachers

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  • 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

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  • La Causa pp. 48 – 58

    RI.5.2

    RI.5.3

    SL.5.1

Defend if the strike was successful or not. 

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Assessment

  • “A Brief History...” — 930L

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

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L.5.1

L.5.1.a

L.5.1.b

L.5.1.d

L.5.2

L.5.2.a

L.5.2.b

L.5.3.a

RI.5.2

RI.5.3

RI.5.6

SL.5.1

SL.5.2

SL.5.4

SL.5.5

SL.5.6

W.5.2

W.5.2.a

W.5.2.b

W.5.2.c

W.5.7

W.5.8

W.5.9.b

Spiral Standards

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L.5.4

L.5.4.b

L.5.6

RF.5.3

RF.5.4

RI.5.1

RI.5.10

RI.5.4

RI.5.7

RI.5.9

W.5.10

W.5.4

W.5.5

W.5.6

W.5.9