Unit 2: 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.
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.
Fishtank Plus for ELA
Unlock features to optimize your prep time, plan engaging lessons, and monitor student progress.
Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, we receive a small portion of the proceeds, which supports our non-profit mission.
Book: La Causa: The Migrant Farmworkers' Story by Dana Catharine de Ruiz and Richard Larios (STECK-VAUGHN, 1 edition, 1993)
Book: César Chávez: A Photographic Essay by Ilan Stavans (Cinco Puntos Press, 1 edition, 2010)
Article: “Farm Labor Organizing 1905-1967, A Brief History” by Linda Lewis Tooni (National Advisory Committee on Farm Labor, 1967)
Video: “The Farm Worker Movement” (Produced by WETA, Washington D.C., 2013)
Article: “A Union in the Community” by César Chávez (Distributed by the Arkansas Institute for Social Justice, Inc., 1969)
Article: “Boycott Instructions - Delano Grapes/Schenley Liquors 1966”
Video: “Delano Manongs” (PBS Online, 2014)
Article: “Bitter Harvest: LIFE with America's Migrant Workers, 1959” by Ben Cosgrove (Time, Inc., 2013)
Video: “Chicano! - Struggle in the Fields”
Article: “National Farm Workers Association Rules for Pickets”
Photo: Early UFW Boycott Flyers
Article: “Declaration of Human Rights” by United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Adopted 1948
Assessment Text: “A Brief History of American Farm Labor” by Smithsonian Magazine, adapted by Newsela staff (Newsela)
Rubric: Grade 5 Informational Writing Rubric
These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit. Essential Tasks can be found in the following lessons:
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
To learn more about how to prepare a unit, internalize a lesson, and understand the different components of a Fishtank ELA lesson, visit our Preparing to Teach Fishtank ELA Teacher Tool.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 2, view our 5th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
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.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
Notes to help teachers prepare for this specific unit
Explain why the study of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers movement is important.
Describe what life was like in Yuma and on the grape farm, particularly how the Chavez family was treated in each location.
Defend if from a young age, Dolores was able to connect with farm workers.
Write a paragraph explaining why Dolores was able to connect with farm workers.
Explain the impact the National Labor Relations Act had on farm workers and if it was positive or negative.
Describe the conditions for farm workers in California by paraphrasing and summarizing details from print and digital sources.
Defend if farm workers’ human rights are being protected.
Determine the main idea of the chapter “Viva La Causa”.
Describe three or four of the strategies that Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta used in order to organize a strong movement and union.
Explain why Cesar was hesitant to join the Filipinos and how the final decision was made to join their strike.
Explain what role Filipino-Americans and Larry Itliong played in the farm worker labor movement.
Writing – 2 days
Describe the characteristics of an influential leader.
Analyze the impact Cesar Chavez’s push for nonviolence had on Dolores and what might have been different if Dolores had used violence.
Defend if the strike was successful or not.
Describe the values that were at the heart of the farm workers movement and how those values influenced their actions.
Explain how Cesar Chavez used flyers to help educate the public to participate in the boycott.
Discussion & Writing – 2 days
Analyze the pros and cons of using strikes and boycotts as forms of nonviolent protest.
Defend if the farm workers’ actions are finally moving things in the right direction.
Summarize what happened on the march to Sacramento and if it was effective.
Describe times when courage, unity, and hope were shown by the farm workers.
Describe how the farm workers movement left a lasting legacy of change.
Analyze how the core values of courage, unity, and hope fueled the farm workers movement and justify which value was the most important by stating a claim and drawing on information from multiple print and digital sources to examine a topic.
Informative Writing – 5 days
Conduct a short research project that uses several sources to build knowledge of different aspects of a topic.
Create a free account to access thousands of lesson plans.
Already have an account? Sign In
The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Explain the function of conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections in general and their function in particular sentences.
— Form and use the perfect (e.g., I had walked; I have walked; I will have walked) verb tenses.
— Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense.
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use punctuation to separate items in a series.
— Use a comma to separate an introductory element from the rest of the sentence.
— Expand, combine, and reduce sentences for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style.
— Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.
— Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
— Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.
— Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
— Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
— Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
— Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.
— Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
— Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
— Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
— Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
— Link ideas within and across categories of information using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., in contrast, especially).
— Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
— Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.
— Apply grade 5 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., "Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point[s]").
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 5 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
— Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., photograph, photosynthesis).
— Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal contrast, addition, and other logical relationships (e.g., however, although, nevertheless, similarly, moreover, in addition).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
— Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.
— Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.
— Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4—5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
— Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
(Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1—3 above.)
— With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
— With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.
— Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
— Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Protecting the Earth: Plastic Pollution
Young Heroes: Children of the Civil Rights Movement
Join us in July and August!