Napa County Reads study guide the Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

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What do you do when you have too much of something? Pretend that you have a small garden where you are growing tomatoes. The weather has been warm, you have tended your garden well providing water and fertilizers, and you have kept all of the weeds away. Your garden is a whopping success! You have given tomatoes to your relatives, neighbors, and friends, and you still have so many tomatoes. What are you going to do with them? You are a great success, shouldn't you be rewarded?

Making Connections:

As farming techniques improved, farmers grew more produce than they could use, creating a surplus. A surplus meant success, more money for growers, but not everyone shared in the success, more money - a surplus. In reference to surplus, César E. Chávez said, "Farm workers are involved in the planting and the cultivation and the harvesting of the greatest abundance [surplus] of food known in this society. They bring in so much food to feed you and me and the whole country and enough food to export to other places. The ironic thing and the tragic thing is that after they make this tremendous contribution, they don't have any money or any food left for themselves."

Vocabulary Activities:

Students continue to list and define teacher given vocabulary in their vocabulary journals. (Refer to farming lesson)

Guided Instruction:

In our wonderful, successful tomato garden you did all the work in the garden and you owned the land, you were both grower and farm worker. But in the real world of agriculture, the grower and the farm worker are not the same and that is the problem. Let us first review surplus and then discuss the plight of the farm worker.

Students/teacher read and discuss text pages 132-143 and make connections to the key concept: Surplus and its impact on farm workers. Teacher assigns students to complete the flow chart from page 143. Students should work independently or in small groups.

To review the plight of the farm worker, watch or read one of the following: The Fight in the Fields: César Chávez and the Farm Worker Movement; (Fighting for Our Lives, The United Farm Workers' 1973 Grape Strike); Ferriss, Susan and Sandoval, Richard. The Fight in the Fields, César Chávez and the Farm workers Movement (Chapter 6: Blood in the Fields)
Discuss the video or reading and list the problems of the farm workers.
Integrating Language:

Students will listen to teacher’s introduction, read textbook, participate in classroom discussions, and complete a flow chart, interview a farm worker, or grower.


Interview a grower or a farm worker and share your interview with the class. Use the following guidelines for your interview:

  1. Arranging the interview: The key is to establish rapport with the potential interviewee.

  1. Setting up the location of the interview: Choose as quiet a location as possible.

  1. The interview process: An oral history interview is not a general dialogue. The purpose of the interview is to listen to what the interviewee has to say and to stimulate the narrative with understanding comments and intelligent questions. Ask open-ended questions first, waiting to see where they lead.

  1. Possible themes: family, migration, childhood, job history, education, and unions.

The Circuit
Lesson Title:

Our Common Ground

History-Social Science Standard:

8.8.5 Discuss Mexican settlements and their locations, cultural traditions, attitudes toward slavery, land-grant system, and economies.

Setting the Context:

Mexican American “pilgrims” of Delano marched to Sacramento and demonstrated that cultural community demand for justice, freedom, and respect. César E. Chávez began in San Jose where “house meetings” got Mexican Americans first talking about civic rights and registering them to vote and moving them toward a sense of community and “union consciousness.” This tradition dates back to the Spanish and Mexican ideas of community property in the Southwest. These ideas became laws that entitled farmers, “parciantes,” to share water and provided property protections for women and children.

Focus Question:

What is community?

How is it formed?
Why do we need these groups in a democracy?

Have the students create a visual diagram of all the important communities and the historic role of the Mexican American communities to which they belong.

Through class discussion, students will explain how the U.S. has inherited more than language and Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
Key Concepts:



Essential Vocabulary:





egalitarian (one who believes in human equality)
Primary Sources:

Ross, Fred, Conquering Goliath: César Chávez at the Beginning El Taller Grafico Press, Kenne, CA 1989, page 99.




“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” - Indira Gandhi

“We can choose to use our lives for others to bring about a better and more just world for our children.” César E. Chávez

Making Connections:

Economics: Tradition of Acequias for 400 years: sharing a precious resource for mutual benefit.

Geography: The landscape of the Southwest and Pacific Regions
Vocabulary Activities:

  1. Use the new vocabulary in sentences.

  1. Put them on 3x5-inch cards for easy reference.

Guided Instruction:

What is a community? Lead a discussion brainstorming on this topic. It’s more than a geographic locality where people live together under the same government; it can also be things like common interests or a feeling.

Have the students create a visual diagram of all the important communities to which they belong. For example, have them print their own name on an individual sheet of paper. Then have them write the names of communities they feel they belong to on separate circles of paper. Example labels can be suggested like: family, country, school, neighborhood, organization, club, church, apartment building, Internet community, sports team, and so forth.
Have them arrange the circles so that those communities most important to the student are closest to the student’s name, and those least important farthest away. How might the importance of these different communities change? Have them arrange the circles according to how they felt when they were younger and how they predict they might feel in the future. What communities might be added or removed in the future?

Have them create a circle for those students in the classroom. Have them write the names of people with smaller letters into the different community circles. Note any classmates’ names that might be shared in more than one circle.

What if the students had been born hundreds of years ago, or some other period of history you’ve been studying? Would the list of communities be different? Why? Conjecture on what communities would be important to a person from another time. Use the textbook chapter to examine community importance during the nineteenth century and how the development of our country was aided by this social structure. Make the contemporary connection for the students with César’s story.
Integrating Language:

Write a poem or short essay using terms from the American civil rights movements:

civil rights
passive resistance

Research the “Acequia” system in New Mexico where communities have shared water for centuries.


Assignment: Research a local person who you admire for their commitment to democracy or building common ground through collaboration.

Research guide - Biography data sheet (You may use this as a guide when you research a personality from the history of your town.)

  1. What is the personality’s name? When and where were they born? If applicable, when and where did they die?

  1. What were the most important experiences in this person’s life?

  1. What local contributions did this person make? How did this person help in the development of the city? Or how did this person lead his or her ethnic group?

Service Learning:

Neighborhood issues

How are people joining together to resolve these issues?

What community resources do we have today? With a partner, interview representatives from these community groups (police officer, park ranger, club president). Name a problem they dealt with?

How did it come up? How were citizens involved in solving it? (Videotape interviews if possible.)
This is a list of possible community problems that offer service opportunities ideas:

community gardens

voter registration
helping seniors
suicide prevention
farm and food issues
traffic and safety
hate crimes
endangered species
drinking and driving
teen support groups
animal rights
eating disorders
The Circuit
Lesson Title:

The Industrial Revolution and the Formation of Unions

Unit of Study:

Industrial Revolution

History-Social Science Standard:

10.3 Students analyze the effects of the Industrial Revolution in England, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States

10.3.4 4 Trace the evolution of work and labor, including the demise of the slave trade and the effects of immigration, mining and manufacturing, division of labor, and the union movement.
Setting the Context:

The Industrial Revolution in Europe during the nineteenth century had a profound effect on all aspects of life. The move from a cottage system to a machine-driven industry affected the workingman and his family in all aspects of life.

Family units often worked the factories. Women and children were used for the most demanding jobs in the workplace. Many drug coal cars in the coal mines of England. Fathers, in the meantime, would use picks and shovels to get at the coal. In the textile factories, children worked for their parents at such jobs as picking up waste and fixing the most dangerous parts of machinery.

These working conditions, coupled with very low wages, pushed workers to unite. Groups in Great Britain formed worker associations that represented the interests of the workers in various industries. The associations eventually turned into labor unions. These unions, however, ran into serious problems in the beginning. In both France (1791) and Britain (1799 and 1800), laws were passed to ban unions. It would not be until much later that the idea of unions would be recognized.
Focus Questions:

What were the working conditions like during the Industrial Revolution?

How do people handle bad working and living conditions?
Have workers in California and the United States experienced these bad working conditions? What did they do?
What are some of the conditions farm workers endure?
Expected Learning Outcomes:

Students will identify the reasons why unions are formed and specifically why the UFW was formed. Students will apply these reasons to a variety of working situations in their area.

Students will compare and contrast why unions started during the Industrial Revolution and why César E. Chávez started the UFW.
Key Concepts:


industrial revolution
Essential Vocabulary:


collective bargaining


Le Chapelier Law

Combination Act
Primary Sources:

History of the Farm Worker Movement, Fred Ross Sr. at Dayton, Ohio. October 1974, Part I Background.
Address by César E. Chávez, The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, November 9, 1984


Pictures of women and girls in coal mines during the Industrial Revolution

Pictures of housing in migrant farm worker camps.

Picture of farm workers in the fields.


Tell the students that they will receive a certain number of bonus points if they can complete cutting out a given number of letters in 10 minutes. If they do not accomplish it, they will be penalized and will receive a 0 for the day. Have students cut out letters from construction paper to very specific standards. These letters must be perfect. Give them 10 minutes to complete a virtually impossible number to complete. Only one or two people, of your choosing, should receive the points.

*Teacher’s Note: Ensure that, at the end of the lesson, the students understand this was only a ploy to make them feel the part of the worker.
Vocabulary Activities:

Create a vocabulary journal of the new words and concepts as the lesson develops. The class should discuss the terms and concepts at the end to make sure that the correct meanings are realized.

Guided Instruction:

  1. Do the Motivation activity above.

  1. Ask the students how they felt about the letter cutting exercise and have them write it down.

  1. Students should have read the appropriate material from their textbook on the Industrial Revolution and the teacher has provided additional information from the Setting the Context.

  1. Have the students look at the pictures and discuss what they see. After completing the discussion, give the students the two primary documents from the given primary material source.

  1. HOMEWORK: Have the students look around in their own area or nationally in areas where there is the potential to unionize. Report back to the class with at least one visual aide (e.g., poster, workers hat) on their findings.

  1. Students will write an essay comparing and contrasting why unions were formed in the Industrial Revolution and why the UFW was formed.


  1. Students can gain more understanding of the formation of the UFW by reading the high school biography of César E. Chávez on the CDE Web site.

  1. Debate panel discussion - with those who might be opposed to unions forming. What are their reasons to oppose?

  1. Research the Factory Act of 1833 and others that helped European workers in the nineteenth century.

Integrating Language:

  1. Pre-reading skills will activate prior knowledge through classroom discussion. Active discussion will be used in reviewing the primary source documents.

  1. Speaking and listening skills will also be used when students share their findings on potential unionization with the class.

  1. Writing skills will enhance through comparison essay that makes historical connections.

Service Learning:

Identify the Problem

Many people in the community do not know the history of the UFW or traditional unions.

Develop a Plan

Brainstorm the best way to help people learn the history of these unions. You will want to research the history of unions in your area as well as the UFW. If there are no unions in your area, you may want to research why there are none.

Initiate Action

Follow through with developing the history in the format of your choosing. Present the end product to the unions, business organizations, and to area libraries.


Students will review their product and, if possible, have professionals in the particular media area also review their material. They will then write a short narrative piece on their feelings about what they found and what they did not find.

The Circuit
Lesson Title:

Francisco Jimenez Biography Boards

Unit of Study:

United States History

History-Social Science Standards:

11.10 Students will analyze the development of Federal civil rights and voting rights.

11.10.5 5 Discuss the diffusion of the civil rights movement of African Americans from the churches of the rural South and the urban North, including the resistance to racial desegregation in Little Rock and Birmingham, and how the advances influenced the agendas, strategies, and effectiveness of the quests of Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans for civil rights and equal opportunities.
Focus Question:

Who was Francisco Jimenez, and what were his achievements?


Working in groups of 5-6, students will create biography boards representing various aspects of Francisco’s life. Students will be assessed based on the quality of their projects and their oral presentations according to the rubric provided.

Key Concepts:




civil rights

civic action




















Essential Vocabulary:




Zoot suit

Sal Si Puedes






labor contractor

collective bargaining

representational election

short-handled hoe

Agricultural Labor Relations Act


Community Service Organization
Guided Instruction:

After introducing the lesson as described under Vocabulary Activity and Motivation, break the class into groups of 5-6 students. Either assign or allow groups to choose the aspect of Francisco's life they will research. Hand out the assignment sheets to each group. There are separate assignment sheets for each topic. Next, hand out the illustrations of the biography board and explain your expectations based on the rubric. The remainder of the period can be used for groups to meet, choose a group leader, recorder, and supplies person, and discuss their assignment sheet.


Students can begin their research at home. If they have computers, they can browse the California Department of Education website, or they can look through the section of their textbook that corresponds to the time period of Francisco’s life that their group is researching. They should look for historical events that relate to their topic and can be incorporated into their time line.

DAY 2-4 Students will be conducting research in the computer lab using the Francisco’s website.
DAY 5 Students will assemble their biography boards and prepare their oral presentations.

DAY 6-7 Each group will present its biography board to the rest of the class. The teacher will lead a discussion in which students summarize their research. They should answer the question, Whowho was Francisco Jimenez, and what were his achievements?

Integrating Language:

Students must listen to the instructions and to their fellow students during group work and class discussion. They will utilize their speaking abilities in both classroom discussion and their oral presentations to the class. Students will be asked to research both primary and secondary sources as part of the computer lab research component. Students will write captions for their pictures and historical summaries of key events on their time line and each student will write a one-page essay on their biography board.


  1. Students could construct a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting FranciscoFranisco Jimenez with another author.

  1. Students could take notes during the group presentations and write a brief summary of the research completed by each of the other groups.

Students could read a biography about Francisco.


The finished product will be a biography board created by each group. These boards will represent their research on Francisco, and each board will represent a different aspect of Francisco’s life. A rubric is provided for assessment of each student's contribution to the biography boards. Teachers may assign points for group work, as well as for contributions during class discussion. All individual contributions to the biography boards will be mounted on color-coded paper for ease of grading.

Service Learning:

  1. Students could volunteer in elementary classrooms as tutors, class aides, or "book buddies" for English Language Learner students.

  1. Students could volunteer at elementary schools as after school playground/gym supervisors.

  1. Students could volunteer in pre-school/Head Start programs to help disadvantaged children and serve as mentors and role models.

  1. Students could set up a homework club at Community Centers or at elementary schools in poor neighborhoods.

Reflection on Service Learning:

After completing any of the activities above, students should take time to reflect and write their experiences. They should try and focus on identifying the goals of the activity and whether they felt they were successful in accomplishing them. Students should also note any personal feelings and experiences that occurred during the activity.

Francisco Jiménez
GROUP # _______________

1._____________________________________ 2. ____________________________________

3. ____________________________________ 4. ____________________________________



1. Title: Spelling and neatness


2. Introductory Statement

Quality of writing and thoroughness of content


3. Map Representative of topic


Content of caption and explanation of historical significance


4. Pictures: Representative of topic


Content of captions and accuracy of information


5. Quotes: Appropriate for topic


Content of captions and accuracy of analysis


6. Time line:

Neatness and Presentation accurately shows passage of time


Entry captions contain appropriate and accurate information


Accuracy of dates for historical events


7. Papers: Thoroughly cover topic


Quality and accuracy of content


8 Overall Presentation: Well organized, neatly constructed


Interesting and informative




5. ____________________________________ 6. ____________________________________

GRADE _________

EXTRA CREDIT: Going beyond minimal assignment

20 points possible
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