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Inquiry Project- Creating a Curriculum

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This curriculum is designed for a pre-kindergarten classroom (ages 3-5 years old) with a student population of 23 students. A bilingual literacy curriculum will be designed for immigrants or children of immigrants from Mexico. The students speak predominately Spanish. The parents of these students speak very little English, so the students cannot use their parents as a resource to learn English. The class meets five times per week for five hours. This is the second semester of the school year. By the time the students’ progress to kindergarten, the students will be expected to understand English because in kindergarten, only English will be spoken. In this curriculum, in addition to learning the basics of reading and math, there will be activities that will incorporate two main goals: To have the students understand English without losing their identity and to incorporate culture into the student’s learning.

            In semester one, the teacher spoke both English and Spanish. However, in this semester, there will be a bigger focus on English, since this is the only language that will be spoken in kindergarten.  The average length of a school year is 180 days, so these three units will take place for 30 days during the semester two.



- Learn the letters of the alphabet

- Begin to recognize their sounds

- Begin to recognize two and three letter words that are important for beginning readers

- Upper and lowercase recognition

-  Recognize colors in English

-Practice speech and comprehension

Unit One:

The goal of this unit is for students to learn the letters of the alphabet and begin recognizing the sounds of letters. In addition, the students will learn the differences between upper and lowercase letters.

  •  Activity 1: There will be a “letter of the day” each day. The teacher will tell the students the letter, and have them repeat it in English. The teacher will then write the letter on the board (in upper and lower case), sound it out with the students, and give examples of objects that start with that letter. The examples will consist of objects from the student’s culture or anything relatable. (It is important to get to know the students so examples will engage students in finding learning relatable to their experiences.) The teacher will then ask the students to think of things that begin with the “letter of the day” and share it with the rest of the class.

Example: The letter of the day is M. It makes the sound mmmmmm. Mango is a food that starts with M. Who likes Mango? (The question engages the students)

  •  Activity 2: By this time, the students should be familiar with the alphabet song. Continue to reiterate the alphabet to the students by playing the alphabet song. Have the students stand up and dance to it. Try to engage all of the students to sing along. This will engage the students to want to learn the song so that they can sing along to it as they dance.
  •  Activity 3: Have the students choose a partner. The students will say their partner’s name and guess the letter their partner’s name begins with. Students will repeat this activity with three different classmates.  


Padron, Waxman, and Rivera, authors of Education Hispanic Students: Obstacles and avenues to improved academic achievement, discuss the idea of culturally responsive teaching, which emphasizes the everyday concerns of students and works to incorporate these concerns into the curriculum. By emphasizing existing knowledge, students’ self-confidence and self-esteem is improved. (Padron, Waxman, and Rivera) The transfer of school-taught knowledge to real-life situations is an important aspect to educate Hispanic students. Each activity that is in this unit allows students to build on knowledge that was already acquired, allowing students to connect school material to their lives. Activity 1 allows the teacher to use the letter of the day to give examples of things that relate to the students’ culture. The students are then asked to give examples of objects that begin with the letter of the day, in which the students can dig into what is familiar to them and relate it to the material being taught. This, in turn, gives students confidence and self-esteem because they feel accomplished when they can identify objects that begin with the letter of the day. Activity two is a reiteration of the alphabet. The students already know the alphabet, but they continue to sing it, which emphasizes existing knowledge. Students feel good when they are able to sing along. Activity three allows students to connect real materials to their lives by allowing students to sound out their peers’ name. Each activity described boosts the students’ confidence.

In addition to emphasizing existing knowledge, Padron, Waxman, and Rivera discuss that through explicit instruction in learning strategies, students learn how to learn and know when to tap into various strategies to accelerate their acquisition of English or academic content. In activity 1, the teacher is giving explicit instruction by telling them the letter of the day, making them repeat it, showing them what the letter looks like written, and giving examples of objects that begin with the letter of the day. This is explicit instruction- a mini lecture.

Unit Two:

The goal of this unit is to have the student begin to recognize words from the letters that they have been learning. In addition, the students will learn to practice speech and comprehension.

  •  Activity 1: There will be a “word of the day” on the board everyday. The word will change every two weeks. Week one, the teacher will explicitly tell the students the word and the students will repeat it. Then, the teacher will have the students recognize all of the letters in the word. The teacher will then use the word in a sentence.

Example: The word of the day is “the.” (T-H-E) The apple is red.

  •  Activity 2: During week two, the teacher will sit the class in a circle. The students will play “hot potatoes,” which is when the music is playing and when it stops, the person who has the ball has to get in the middle. The person in the middle will have to say a sentence with the word “the” in it. The student will then have to spell the word “the.” The student can then get out of the middle if he or she does both correctly. If not, the student will stay in the middle. When another student is put into the middle, the student has a second chance to spell the word correctly and use it in a sentence.

Example 1 (if the student does both tasks correctly): The ball lands on student 1. Student 1 gets into the circle. “The cookie is good.” (T-H-E) The student joins the circle again.

Example 2 (if the student does one or both tasks incorrectly): The ball lands on student 1. Student 1 gets in the circle. “The cookie is good.” (T-E-H) Student 1 remains in the circle. The ball lands on student 2. Student 2 does both tasks correctly and rejoins the circle. Student 1 is given the chance to spell “the” over and does so correctly. Student 1 rejoins the circle.

  •  Activity 3: Have the student bring in an object that is important to them. They will present it to the class in English. It will be a ‘Show and Tell.’ After Each student presents, ask the rest of the class questions about some of the things that was presented by the student.

Example: A student gives a presentation. Student: “I brought in a quilt. My mom sewed for me to sleep in.” Teacher: “Why did this student’s mom make this student a quilt? What are some of the colors in the quilt?”

  •  Activity 4: Have the parents present a historical figure to the students. It can be presented in either Spanish, but English is preferred. The parents will then question the students about some of the information that they told the students.


It is important that the students view themselves as whole rather than damaged, as Eve Tuck discusses in Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities. Being that there is a language barrier, some students may feel that they are broken, but the activities in this unit assure the students that they are whole. By incorporating culture into these activities, it shows the students that they are important. Activity 4 allows the parents to expose the students to Hispanic figures that are successful, which not only enables students to view themselves a whole, but can also give the students a role model other than their family members to look up to that is Mexican just like them. By having the parents present these successful historical figures to the class, it expands the role of parents in the classroom. Padron, Waxman, and Rivera believe that Hispanic parents should be provided with opportunities to participate in school activities that are connected to their community context. Activity 4 does this. Padron, Waxman, and Rivera elaborates by stating that it is important that parents are given opportunities to participate in meaningful activities that can improve instruction because parents may have skills or experiences that are useful to a particular topic being studied, or they can contribute by discussing topics that provide new knowledge and information to students.

            Gerald Campano introduces a concept of creating an alternative pedagogical space. (Patricia Venegas) This space should “develop organically by following the students’ leads, interest, desires, forms of cultural expression, and especially their stories (Patricia Venegas).”  Activity 3 allows the students to do so. In activity 3, students are permitted to lead the class by presenting an object that is important to them for ‘show and tell.’ They can tell a story about this object and the rest of the class can question the student about the object, creating dialogue. Gerald Campano illustrates how valuing students’ cultures, histories, and communities establish what Freire referred to as a true dialogue. (Patricia Venegas) By sharing what is important to them, the students feel a sense of empowerment. The teacher can learn from the students with the ‘show and tell’ activity by “recognizing the students’ personal and collective experiences as promising seeds for creating brighter futures.” (Patricia Venegas)

            In addition to culturally responsive teaching, which gives students exposure to knowledge about other individuals, Padron, Waxman, and Rivera introduces cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is effective instructional approaches that stimulates learning and helps students come to complex understandings through opportunities to discuss and defend their ideas with others. (Padron, Waxman, and Rivera) It provides opportunities for students to communicate with each other, enhancing instructional conversations and develops proficiency in English by providing students with rich language experiences that integrate speaking, listening, and reading. (Padron, Waxman, and Rivera) During show and tell, students are able to discuss their object, and their classmates can question the students. Being that they students are presenting in English, it eases the tension of speaking in English because students are discussing things that are meaningful to them. This allows students to communicate with each other.

            Padron, Waxman, and Rivera advise teachers not to consistently lecture or transmit material to the students, but to encourage cooperation among students. This student-centered teaching practice creates interdependency among students and teachers. Rather than limiting expectations for Hispanic students by avoiding discussion during instruction, instructional conversations emphasize dialogue with teachers and classmates. This whole process is referred to as instructional conversation and is recommended to teach to Hispanic students. (Padron, Waxman, and Rivera) This is shown in activity 2, which sets high expectations for preschool students. It is a game that involves dialogue as well. The teacher is not simply giving the students information in a lecture style, but it is interactive learning. 

Unit Three:

 The goal of this unit is to have students recognize colors in English.

  •  Activity 1: Since all of the students in this particular class are from Mexico or immigrants of Mexico, bring in a Mexican flag. Explain to the students that this is the flag that represents Mexico. Then the teacher will point to the colors in the flag, say them, and have the students repeat. This activity will be repeated with different flags of different cultures, which contain different colors than the Mexican flag.
  •  Activity 2: Have a stack of coloring sheets that match the theme. (The pictures should be simple) In this case, the theme is food. Call the students up one by one in front of the class and have them say aloud what is on the picture. Have the students pick out a color that the food is from the crayon box. Send the student to the table to color the food. When all of the students are finished coloring, allow the students to gather on the rug. Call the students up one by one and let them tell the class what the food is that he or she has colored and name the color, in English, that he or she colored the food.

Example: The teacher- calls student 1 up to the front of the class. “This is a picture of an avocado. What color is an avocado?” The student repeats “avocado” then the picks the color of an avocado from the crayon box. The student goes and colors the avocado green. When the student is finished, the student comes back to the rug. Student-This is an avocado and it is green.” The teacher will participate in the activity so that he or she can be the example.


Gerald Campano discusses the importance of expanding the notion of learning and of what exactly counts as knowledge. (Patricia Venegas) Teachers should engage students in a collaborative endeavor that provides a framework for new kinds of learning and literacy development that reflects cultural-historical approaches to learning. (Patricia Venegas) Activity 1 creates a new way of learning colors that is cultural. By looking at various flags, students are learning their colors.


            This curriculum was created based on my placement. I am placed in a bilingual preschool and I have seen many implications. With this curriculum, I tried to address these implications. For example, it is the second semester of the school year, and the teacher in my placement speaks a lot of Spanish, and very few English. The students are capable of understanding the teacher, but switching between the languages confuses the students. I find that sometimes the students do not know whether to speak English or Spanish, and when in doubt, they refer to the language that they are most comfortable with: Spanish.

From reading Padron, Waxman, and Rivera, I learned the importance of respecting the culture of the students so that they are not forced to assimilate into the dominant culture in America. This is the reason I incorporate activities into the curriculum that can still allow students to feel like their culture is important. Some of these activities are: show and tell to practice English and learning colors through looking at the Mexican and various other flags. These activities incorporate a small portion of their culture, which I find the students very much connected to.

In addition, I used Padron, Waxman, and Rivera’s ideas of raising Hispanic students expectations. Some of these activities may be viewed as too much for preschoolers, like the hot potato game, but with practice and encouraging words, he students will be able to do it. I have seen some amazing things in my placement that led me to believe that anything is possible, even with students at this young age. I watched a three year old learn his numbers, the alphabet, and colors in English within his first three weeks in preschool. People learn a new language quicker at younger ages and this was certainly the case for this particular student. Furthermore, by giving a space to present what is important to them for show and tell, they can feel more comfortable to speak in English. Although I will be making the students speak in English, the fact that they are speaking about something that is important to them does not completely force them into the dominant culture. Besides, I will not prohibit the students from speaking in Spanish during class. They are free to engage in conversations in Spanish during free play, but when there is an academic activity, the students will be encouraged to speak in English. After all, this is an expectation for them to progress to the next grade level. In addition, parents are able to present historical figures to the students in Spanish as well. I do not want the students to develop the notion that Spanish is not “good enough” for the classroom.

In his paper, I used a combination of scholars that focus on bilingual education, like Padron, Waxman, and Rivera and Patricia Venegas, as well as scholars from multicultural education in general, like Eve Tuck. I believe that each scholar used, had valid points that could be applied to teaching bilingual students form Mexican backgrounds. I used Paul Gorski’s idea that education must become more fully student-centered and inclusive of the voices and experiences of the students when I designed this curriculum. From my praxis experience, I believe that Hispanic preschoolers benefit most from incorporating their voices and interactive learning, not only lectures and explicit instruction. Every student must have an equal opportunity to perform to her or his full potential. (Paul C. Gorski)

 Work Cited

  • Gorski, Paul. "The Challenge of Defining "Multicultural Education"." Critical Multicultural Pavilion: pag.1 Print.
  • Padron, Yolanda N., Hector H. Rivera, and Hersh C. Waxman. "Educating Hispanic Students: Obstacles and avenues to improved academic achievement." (): n. pag. Print.
  • Tuck, Eve. "Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities." Vol. 79 No. 3: 409-427. Print. 
  • Venegas, Patricia. "A Review of Immigrant Students and Literacy: Reading, Writing, and Remembering by Gerald Campano." Networks pag.1-2 Print.