The purpose of this article is to provide guidance to teachers on how to incorporate Latinx culturally relevant biographies into their social studies classrooms with English learners (ELs). In the social studies curriculum, United States history often is regarded as one of the hardest courses for newly arrived immigrants to learn due to the unfamiliarity of American history content (Dunne & Martell, 2013). Using a culturally relevant approach to teaching social studies has the potential to connect EL students to content in powerful and meaningful ways. As the number of Spanish speaking EL students grows in the American public school system (Cruz & Thornton, 2008), the use culturally relevant Latinx biographies allows teachers to incorporate different reading levels, bilingual narratives, and historical photographs in their sheltered (EL only) or mainstream (traditional) classroom. Teachers can differentiate assignments for students based on English proficiency, as well as challenge students who are learning new English skills. Additionally, the use of culturally relevant biographies can help teachers change the landscape of American history s/heroes and these shifts can be impactful for native-born students also (Wineburg & Monte-Sano, 2008). In this article, we provide a sample lesson where EL students in United States history study female Latinx activists to construct body biographies.
Southall, Aubrey and Bohan, Chara H., "Altering the Traditional American History Landscape: Incorporating Culturally Relevant Biographies in Social Studies" (2017). Educational Policy Studies Faculty Publications. 32.