“The Largest Versions of Ourselves”: Interrogating and Expanding Latina/o Identity In the Middle School English Language Arts Classroom Through Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Kenan Brett Kerr, English, Whitewater Middle School

Curriculum Unit (pdf)



This unit utilizes Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents as a “window and mirror” into Latino/a culture more broadly, integrating “The Five Cs of Foreign Language Educations—cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities—into the English language arts curriculum. A principal goal of this unit is ensuring our school’s curriculum is representative of the Latino/a students we serve—that their Latinidad is recognized, respected, and celebrated. This unit asks students to consider their own identity, as well as their own experiences of migration. Emphasis is placed on collaboration, storytelling, social-emotional learning, and cultural competency. Instructional strategies used throughout the unit are intended to elevate student inquiry and critical thinking. To execute this unit successfully, teachers must themselves be both culturally aware and culturally sensitive. The unit culminates in the creation of a community ofrenda. It is suggested that this unit is presented during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which occurs annually from September 15th to October 15th.