Becoming Francisco X. Alarcón
At a time of such deep division, how can teachers help students reflect on their unique cultural identities and their participation in the larger American story? Rather than seeing individual identity and communal engagement as mutually exclusive, we at the Great Books Foundation believe that exploring diverse texts enables all students to learn about themselves and appreciate the perspectives of others.
Rudine Sims Bishop, professor emerita at the Ohio State University, memorably expressed students’ need for diverse literature. She wrote that students need books that serve as both windows and mirrors. Which books individual students experience as windows into an unfamiliar world and which they experience as mirrors of their own lives will inevitably vary. But when a curriculum includes books from a wide range of perspectives, all students have the opportunity both to reflect on themselves and to develop empathy for others.
As an example, this month we’re offering lesson plans for our exclusive profile of Francisco X. Alarcón, taken from Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry 3. Alarcón was an award-winning Mexican-American writer whose stories and poems for children and adults were frequently published in both Spanish and English. As our biographical profile for young readers highlights, Alarcón also worked extensively with schools to encourage students to express themselves in poetry.
Please use the activities for “Becoming Francisco X. Alarcón” below for classroom sessions that will provide a window for some of your students and a mirror for others. You can download the complete text using the link on this page. We hope you and your students enjoy exploring this selection!
Senior Professional Learning Consultant and Editor.
Nancy Carr has over 20 years of experience as both a professional development coach and a curriculum developer, working in schools throughout the country and with a wide range of student populations. Her work focuses on the intersection of curriculum materials and classroom practice, and she has helped develop many of the Foundation’s current K–12 materials. Nancy holds a PhD in English from the University of Virginia.