Celebrating Cesar Chavez Lesson Plan: Unions and the Rights of Migrant Workers

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore how growing seasons affect the lives of migrant workers. Students will compare their own lives to the lives of a migrant worker, and write a creative essay imagining how it would feel to be a migrant worker.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Explain how growing seasons affect the lives of migrant workers
  2. Compare their own lives to the lives of a migrant worker
  3. Write a creative essay imagining how it would feel to be a migrant worker

Materials:

  • Computer with internet access and projector or IWB
  • Map of California
  • List of harvesting seasons for various crops
  • Photocopies of the Vocabulary page

Vocabulary:

union; protest; harvest; crop; migrant worker; campaign; labor union; non-violent; strike; negotiate; boycott; compromise

Preparation:

Celebrate Cesar Chavez's birthday by helping students connect Chavez's life with science! Preview the movie topic ahead of time and plan pause points for discussion.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Build historical background about the lives of early migrant workers in the United States by showing the Real Life and In Depth FYI features.
  2. Play the BrainPOP movie Cesar Chavez and ask students to listen for ways that the lives of Chavez and other immigrants are similar to and different from their own lives.
  3. Discuss the vocabulary from the movie using the Vocabulary page. Students may want to work with a partner to define the words. It may be helpful to play the movie through a second time and have students extend their definitions as they watch.
  4. Show students a map of California. Have them label the areas where various crops are grown and the times of year they are harvested. Though Chavez was from California, you could do this activity with another state that has a high population of migrant workers.
  5. Ask students to explain (either orally or in writing) how the harvesting seasons affect where the migrant workers live.
  6. Have students compare the life of a migrant worker to their lives, or imagine what life would be like as a migrant worker. Students may wish to write a journal entry or blog post about their thoughts, or create a conversation around the topic using VoiceThread.

Extension Activity:

To extend student understandings, you may wish to read the book "Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez" by Kathleen Krull to the class. You can find more ideas for celebrating Chavez Day in BrainPOP's In Practice FYI feature.