Thursday, January 29, 2015

Spanish in the Community: Dream Act, DACA and DAPA

by Ann Abbott

Last semester I set myself up for blogging failure: I said I would share all my lesson plans on my blog. Didn't happen. Too much going on, so I didn't always have time to sit down and write and share every single lesson plan.

So this semester, no promises. When I can, I will. And I'd love to hear from you about your courses, lesson plans and class projects. Just as a reminder, you can contact me:
And here's what I did with my students today.
Students using their earbuds, listening to the videos.
It's hard to see, but on the board I wrote:
¿Qué? ¿Y qué? ¿Ahora qué?

¿Qué? Informarse

First I asked students if they knew who our Illinois Senators are. One student knew--he's a political science major. They are Dick Durbin (D) and Mark Kirk (R).

Then I put these words on the board: Dream Act, DACA and DAPAI asked students if they knew what they were. Students who are doing their community service learning work at the Refugee Center and had an orientation this week knew something about them. But most students didn't have any background knowledge about them. I explained that Senator Durbin was one of the authors of the Dream Act and what it consisted of. I then pointed out that since the Dream Act has never been passed by the legislative branch, Obama took executive action and created DACA and more recently DAPA.

We went to our Facebook page. From there they clicked on the link to Senator Durbin's website. Once there, we went to the page on "Issues," clicked on "Dream Act" and listened to the short video. I called out the following: the family was from Korea (not all immigrants are from Mexico, as the common discourse claims), the girl didn't make the choice to come, we don't know if she speaks Korean (she might not), and she's certainly never been back to Korea because without papers you can't get a passport, and without a passport you can't fly.

¿Y qué? Analizar

I asked students to then read the written information on Dick Durbin's page on the Dream Act. Afterward, they got into groups and shared their reactions. I heard a lot of support, and I also heard some students say that they don't like illegal immigration. (That's okay; I have the whole semester to help them see undocumented immigration as something more complex than most people have ever imagined.)

Next we went to Dick Durbin's Facebook page. I assigned each student a number, either 1, 2 or 3. Number one had to watch the video his office posted about Juan's DACA Story, Number two had to watch Ola's DACA Story. And students with the number three watched Oscar's Dream Story

I then asked them to skim through the comments on the Facebook posts. (I'm sure there are plenty of similar comments on the YouTube videos.) We talked about the tone of the posts (very hateful, angry). What the people who are against the Dream Act were actually against. We talked about debating using our "racioncinio," facts, and emotions.

¿Ahora qué? Tomar acción

I then called their attention to the board where I had written the three stages of reflection: ¿Qué? ¿Y qué? ¿Ahora qué? I told them that for the first stage of reflection, we simply informed ourselves about the Dream Act, DACA and DAPA. For the second stage, we looked at what those policies meant to immigrants and specific cases of Dreamers. We analyzed reactions against these bills and policies. For the third stage, I emphasized that in this class, this semester, yes, we will study, yes, we will write papers, yes, we will take exams, but that our learning will also lead to action. In pairs, the talked a few moments about what they could do to support (or not) these bills and policies. 

I then showed them what I have done. I sometimes participate in these Facebook discussions.
Finally, in pairs, they had five minutes to write a something short that they could post on Dick Durbin's Facebook page under the DACA and Dream Act posts. They had to post it to our Facebook thread. They could also post to Dick Durbin's page, but they weren't required to. (Some students just aren't ready to make that step yet.)


Well, I wish there was a more elegant way to present all this information. Despite the clunky look of this post, the class was dynamic, fast-paced, and I know the students left the room knowing some things that they didn't know before.

We´ve talked in my department about defining our goals for Spanish majors: what should they know before they graduate. Some people say they can't graduate without knowing about El Quixote and Cien Años de Soledad. Some faculty feel that all Spanish majors should graduate knowing about morphemes. Well, what are we actually teaching them? Although students might not read El Quixote and Cien Años de Soledad, our current curriculum ensures that they will have at least one literature class. Same with linguistics.

What we aren't teaching our Spanish majors is the on-the-ground socio-political realities of Spanish speakers in the US. I know this because my students have usually taken many Spanish classes, several of them have even studied abroad, and yet they don't know the most basic information about issues of concern to millions of Spanish-speakers in the US. And it's not the students' fault!

So, feel free to try this lesson with your students. And please leave a comment with activities that you do with your students to teach them about political policies regarding immigration. Or about Dreamers. Or about ways to model civic engagement to our students.

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