Thanks to generous support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Working Films is revising and expanding New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina, a multi-media curriculum. This resource for educators models a popular education approach to learning, incorporating independent film clips into lesson plans aimed at 8th-12th grade students, with the goal of combating stereotypes and misinformation about Latinos in North Carolina. The curriculum’s design is also informed by an overarching goal of economic justice for all North Carolinians. The curriculum was originally released in 2007, and implemented in a broader range of classroom environments than initially intended. We found that it was being used minimally by targeted 8th-12th grade social studies teachers, and more often facilitated in Spanish and ESOL classes, professional development settings where themes of cultural competency were the focus, and within other adult learning environments.
I arrived in Wilmington from Philadelphia a few weeks ago, as the Working Films George Stoney Fellow, and immediately launched into this project of updating and revising the curriculum with Anna, who had a hand in the creation of the initial project. Together we decided that there are holes in the content of the original lesson plans and video clips, as well as outdated information. Sadly the fact that some of the content is out of date speaks to the reality that North Carolina has only moved backwards in the last few years when it comes to the rights of immigrants and that xenophobia has increased during these desperate times of economic crisis. But given that sad reality we are more driven to improve the curriculum and expand its use.
We also wanted to make it more appropriate for a wider span of learners and contexts, by creating specific teacher guides geared toward the various settings that it might be used. We began by assessing the previous use of the curriculum, contacting educators and facilitators that used the material, and documenting the feedback that we received. We then created an advisory board made up of a pool of leaders at the helm of local movements in support of social and economic justice for Latinos and immigrants in the state. We had our first advisory board phone call last week; what an inspiration to convene with such powerful leaders, and move forward with this project. Keep an eye out for a revised version of the curriculum toward the end of August!