University of Arizona
Center For Latin American Studies
Saturday Workshops for Educators
Puerto Rico: the
PUERTO RICO SECONDARY LESSON
Arizona State Standards:
Reading: Strand 2-Concept 1 (apply reading strategies) Strand 3-Concept 1
Writing: Research Document: Strand 1-Concept 1, Strand 2- Concepts 1,2,6,
Strand 3–Concept 6.
Listening and Speaking: LS-P1 & P5 (shares, presents, listens & responds) VP-
P1-P3 (develop, analyze, evaluate, organize)
History: 1SS-P1(chronological & spatial skills) 1SS-P2 (research methods) 1SS-
P3 (interpretation) 1SS-D1 (historical sources) 1SS-D2 (historical thinking)
Geography: 3SS-P1 (using geographic tools) 3SS-P2 (regions) 3SS-P3 (social
interaction, migration) 3SS-P5 (applying skills)
Arts: 2AV-P1/P2/3AV-P2(cultural & historical relevance) 2AV-P4(role of art in
Goals & Objectives:
Explain the political status of Puerto Rico.
Develop arguments in favor and against the political status of Puerto
Identify famous Puerto Ricans and Nuyoricans. Discuss the feelings of
Puerto Ricans about their political status through poetry and art.
Illustrate the migration story of a Puerto Rican living in New York
conducting historical and cultural research.
Length of lesson: Two one hour periods or one block period
Materials & Preparation: Lesson handouts, newspaper articles on Puerto Rico.
Ask students to come up to the board and do a cognitive map on what comes to
their head when they hear the word ‘Puerto Rico’. Relying on the words they
wrote on the board, discuss the stereotypes with them and add some content
information. Ask students if they have visited Puerto Rico and/or if they know
any Puerto Ricans. Based on their experience, what would they change or add to
the cognitive map on the board?
What is the capital of Puerto Rico? What is its main currency? What is its
political status? Give students handout #1 and ask them to list the differences
between Puerto Rico and U.S. states. Do they think the name ‘free associated
state’ defines the situation of Puerto Rico? Opinions will vary. You can divide
the class in groups and give them newspaper clippings that show different points
of view on the subject.
Ask students to write an essay about the political status of Puerto Rico, and what
the political option they would preference for the island: independence, statehood,
or continuing as a Free Associated States.
Where are most Puerto Ricans in the United States? Have they ever heard the
term ‘Nuyorican’ before? Explain to students that the economic situation of
Puerto Rico has forced many people to leave the island. Examples are the famous
Tito Puente and the poet Gloria Vando. Brainstorm some more famous Puerto
Ricans and Nuyoricans (Roberto Clemente, Johny Smits, Ricky Martin, Jennifer
Lopez, Raul Julia etc). Many people define Puerto Rican migration as a
‘Diaspora’, and Puerto Rican nationality as ‘transnationality’ because of the
ambiguous political situation of the island.
Give students handout #4 and read the poem aloud with them. Which city is the
protagonist walking through? What does she feels as she walks through the
streets of this city? Discuss the past actions on behalf of Puerto Rico that the
poetic persona has taken. Has she had to pay a price for those actions? What is
the price? How dos Gloria Vando describe the Americanization of Puerto Rico?
Why do you think she mixes English and Spanish in her poem? In what other
ways does she use language to express her feelings? Why does she say that
‘fatherland’ is a ‘sneaky word’?
Find other examples where poets and musicians express their longing for Puerto
Rico and the uncertainties about the cultural identity of the island.
Research the culture of Puerto Rico and design a storyboard about a Puerto Rican
who leaves the island and settles in New York. Include as much cultural
information as possible: geographical locations, food names, music, names of
political and national figures, etc. Include your own artwork.
Students present their storyboards and give feedback to their peers.
Evaluation: (1) Assess students’ individual and group participation; (2) Grade their
essay on the political status of Puerto Rico; (3) Grade the essay for content, form,
creativity and effort; (4) Grade oral presentation for clarity, content and effective
communication; (5) Give students a grade for providing constructive feedback on each
#1 Play the film ‘Nuyorican Dream’ and ask students to comment on the difficulties that
Puerto Ricans face in the United States. Discuss the perspective of the director and the
different life experiences of the characters in the film.
#2 Research different topics on Puerto Rico: music, language, architecture, and people.
Have each group present their findings in class. Invite a Puerto Rican to class that can
give feedback to each of the group presentations.