-- an investigation into the economics of imperialism and the culture of resistance, and the impact of these on identity, responsibility to self, community and the world, and the choice to participate.

Essential questions:

  • Who Am I? Who Are We? Who do you owe? What are you going to do about it?
  • Imperialism: What is it? What does it look like? What has it got to do with me?
  • Who Benefits? Who’s Civilized - and who decides? Who Resists, and how?

Possible culminating projects:

  • Memoir
  • Historical Fiction
  • Letter to the Author
  • Poetry
  • Memorial/Monument
  • Gallery Notes
  • Annotated Keywords List
  • Text-Based Essay

Skills we are teaching:

  • how do you determine the importance of information?
  • what strategies do readers use to interpret non-fiction texts?
  • what is social critique?
  • what good is poetry? What can it do that prose can’t?
  • what’s the difference between describing and interpreting?
  • how closely do you need to look?
  • what does it take to make a valid comparison?
  • can I argue my point well enough to persuade readers?
  • how do I marshall evidence to back up my assertion?
  • how do you consider multiple viewpoints?
  • how do I anticipate readers' counter-arguments?
  • what makes a good rebuttal?
  • what is wiki'ing?
  • what does it take to compose collaboratively? should I delete collaborators' contributions? add my own? or revise?
  • how do you become the custodian of a wiki page?

Sample student work

Jennifer's essay: Are You the Next Target?

Brandon's essay: What a Great Country!

Ann's essay: Wrong Turn to Puerto Rico

reading blog Their Possession?
reading blog Puerto Rico As An American Colony
reading blog Operation Bootstrap

Amanda's essay: How Dare You?

Cornell's poem: Less Money, More Problems

reading blog Operation Bootstrap

Ebony's poem: Cause

Ashley's essay: Operation Bootstrap

Reference materials

re: colonialism vs. imperialism:

Wikipedia's article on "Colonialism" notes that, "Colonialism is the extension of a nation's sovereignty over territory beyond its borders by the establishment of either settler colonies or administrative dependencies in which indigenous populations are directly ruled or displaced. Colonizers generally dominate the resources, labor, and markets of the colonial territory and may also impose socio-cultural, religious and linguistic structures on the conquered population. The term also refers to a set of beliefs used to legitimize or promote this system, especially the belief that the mores of the colonizer are superior to those of the colonized. Though colonialism is often used interchangeably with imperialism, the latter is broader as it covers control exercised informally (via influence) as well as formally.

re: definition of Imperialism:

I researched 4 textbooks: Wikipedia, Prentice Hall's Brief Review in Global History & Geography, Glencoe/McGraw Hill's World History, and Prentiss Hall's World History: Connections to Today. The one that I find the most useful is from Prentiss Hall's World History: Connections to Today: "Imperialism: domination by one country of the political, economic, or cultural life of another country or region."

Historical Events

1. Pre-Columbian Taino & European civilizations: What did they value?
What was Taino civilization like?
Why did European overseas exploration intensify in the 1400’s?
2. The Spanish conquest of the Americas: Columbus, the Taino, and the Aztec: Who's civilized, and who decides?
How did the Spanish Conquest of the Americas Go?
What did Spain’s imperialism look like and sound like in the Americas?
3. The Atlantic triangle trade: Who benefits, and how?
4. U.S. 19th c. imperialism and resistance in the Caribbean:
  • Puerto Rico -- The US in Puerto Rico: A Good Thing?
  • Dominican Republic -- What are the tensions of having a democracy led by a dictator?
5. U.S. 20th c. imperialism and resistance in the Caribbean:
  • Puerto Rico -- The US in Puerto Rico: A Good Thing?
  • Dominican Republic -- What are the tensions of having a democracy led by a dictator?

Primary and secondary historical documents

1. Pre-Columbian Taino and European Civilizations

“Taino Civilization”, The People’s Voice: Puerto Rico

The Golden Flower, picture book by Nina Jaffe

“Dangers” and other excerpts on Guanahani Indians, Genesis, Eduardo Galeano

Slides of artifacts at Museo del Barrio and/or Metropolitan Museum

“The Search for Spices”, World History: Connections to Today. p. 372

Glencoe textbook p. 434 on Reconquista & reasons for European Exploration

“Genoese World Map, 1457”, The Image of the World

2. The Spanish conquest of the Caribbean

The Encounter, Jane Yolen

Let’s Meet Columbus!

“The Sun Route to the Indies” from Genesis, Eduardo Galeano

Excerpts from The Rediscovery of North America, Barry Lopez

“Columbus Meets the Arawaks” and “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress,” Overview of Regional History

“Wednesday, 12 December 1492”, The Log of Christopher Columbus

"Hispaniola”, Bartolome de las Casas’ Writings

“The Hidalgo’s Hat and a Hawk’s Bell of Gold,” Martin Espada

“Critiquing Columbus,” pp. 1, 2, 3, 11, & 12, Colonialism in the Americas: A Critical Look

“Borinquen: Land of Courage,” Puerto Rico: The Flame of Resistance

“Conversion of the Indians,” painting by Haitian Renaissance artist Blaise

“Columbus” and “Day of Glory”, Genesis, Eduardo Galeano

“The Mission”

“Seven Components of Colonialism”, adapted from Colonialism in the Americas: A Critical Look

“The Encomienda System,” Peoples Voice History of Puerto Rico, pp. 21, 41

3. The African presence in the Americas

The People’s Voice: Dominican Republic – Culture and History , 19-23

The People’s Voices: Puerto Rico – Culture and History, 36-41

“Social Structure of the Spanish Colonies”, Global Regents Exam Prep, 165

PortCities Bristol:map of Triangular Trade with a button to press in 6 sites along the route, to see an artifact and read 2 paragraphs of text. 3 buttons are on Africa, Caribbean, Europe. The other 3 are on "Raw Materials", "Manufactured Goods", "Enslaved Africans".

Oloudah Equiano: Life on board a slave ship:A recording of Equiano's words to listen to as you follow along, reading the transcript.

PortCities Bristol:The three legs of the slavery routes described, with primary documents AND artifacts (including from the great civilizations of Africa) to click on.

Triangular trade:An interactive, animated map of the triangular trade. Viewer gets to create his/her own gallery exhibition of artifacts from Europe, Africa, and Caribbean.

(JPEG Image, 1028x1280 pixels) Diagram of the hold of a slave ship

The View from Calabar

Alexander Falconbridge's account of the slave trade

“1531: Santo Domingo -- A Letter,” Genesis, Eduardo Galeano

“Red Flower,” Paulette Poujol-Oriol


“Raraman,” song performed in Haiti by Mini All Stars, written by Fred Paul.

“Cana,” poem by Nicolas Guillen

“The High Price of Sugar,” Newsweek

“Slaves and the Slave Trade,” Connections, Prentice-Hall

“Black Slaves and White Sugar,” Puerto Rico: The Flame of Resistance

“Feet” and other excerpts, Genesis, Eduardo Galeano

Guest Speaker: Rosamaria Roberts-Muldro, Dance Choreographer

“Birth of the Meztizo,” poem from 500 Anos del Pueblo Chicano / 500 Years of Chicano History, E. Martinez, ed.

4. The legacy: US imperialism in Puerto Rico – The Spanish-American War

Lesson: Pledge of Allegiance invented for Columbus Day, 1892

“Proclamation,” Major-General Commander Nelson A. Miles

“Puerto Rico as a Permanent Possession,” an American business man’s letter to the New York Times, 1898

“Lesson 1.3: Political Cartoons and Historical Context,” Resistance in Paradise,9

“Lesson 1.4: The Treaty of Paris,” Resistance in Paradise, 24

“Puerto Rico After 1898,” and “Twentieth Century Nationalist Movements,” Resistance in Paradise, p. 66

“Lesson 3.1: Race and Identity,” Resistance in Paradise, p. 74

“Lesson 3.2: La Boriquena,” Resistance in Paradise, p. 79

“Gunboat Diplomacy,” Caribbean Connections: Puerto Rico, p. 115

“Black Americans and the Spanish American War,” lesson from Reluctant Colossus: America Enters the Age of Imperialism, Brown University

“Critiquing the “White Man’s Burden,” lesson from Reluctant Colossus: America Enters the Age of Imperialism, Brown University

5. The legacy: US imperialism in Puerto Rico – Operation Bootstrap

“Mi Puerto Rico,” video documentary directed by Sharon Simon, narrated by Raquel Ortiz

“Dona Licha’s Island,” oral history collected in 1974 from Leticia Roman on environmental, nutritional, economic, and demographic degradation caused by US business policies, Caribbean Connections: Puerto Rico

“Dupont,” Caribbean Connections: Puerto Rico

“The Admiral and the Snake,” poem by Martin Espada comparing US Department of Defense occupation of Vieques to Columbus’ conquest

“The US in Puerto Rico,” Resistance in Paradise, p. 68

“Profit Island, USA,” The Flame of Resistance, p. 91-102

“Operation Bootstrap,” Peoples Voice: Puerto Rico, p. 74

Puerto Rico Mio: Four Decades, photo-essay by Jack Delano comparing the island’s condition in 1942 to that of 1980 p.102-3, Peoples Voice: Puerto Rico

“Three Viewpoints,” Caribbean Connections: Puerto Rico

“Lesson 3.3: Puerto Rico’s Political Status,” Resistance in Paradise, p. 82

“Crossroad,” play by Manuel Mendez Ballester

“American Invasion of Macun,” 5th chapter of When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago, in which US government establishes free breakfast, vaccination, nutrition education, and ESL programs in the barrio.

“Island of Lost Causes,” 845-word essay by Esmeralda Santiago on P.R.’s political status, Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings, ed. Roberto Santiago (One World/Ballantine, 1995)

6. The legacy: US imperialism in the Americas -- US Support of Trujillo

Wiki questions

Spring 2006

a place for authentic, subjective reader response

We could have students interact with primary and secondary historical documents, and then have them use the "Interpreting Non-Fiction" and "Social Critique of Non-Fiction" blog starters to respond to them. They could tab over to East Side Bloggers 2009 to copy one of these 2 sentence starters, then tab back to the Wiki and paste them in to the discussion page and use them for responding.

Here's my thinking on this: Authentic reader response is subjective. In order to foster an authentic response to non-fiction text, we need to give the kids a chance to write subjectively, in the first person. There IS a place for this in wikis, and that is on the Discussion page behind an article. It's the act of selecting text from the Discussion page to copy and pasting it onto the Article page that initiates the conversion from 1st person to 3rd person. That is, as soon as it lands on the Article page, a writer experiences a felt need to edit the voice. Why? Because when they and others click on the article, it will not look and sound the way other Wiki articles look and sound. This was how it happened last year, with our Puerto Rico articles. Moreover, the act of converting writing from 1st person voice to 3rd person voice is one of the more powerful things we can teach ninth graders.

Spring 2005


Although we tend to be pretty hard on ourselves, it would probably be a good idea to take a look at what teachers said about a similar project last semester: Talk:Puerto_Rico_and_the_United_States.

So how can we proceed differently this semester? My understanding of your suggestion last week was that we could provide each individual contributor with an array of Wiki textual access features to choose from... I imagine that the student would choose which textual access feature s/he wants to pursue (writing... editing... titling... inserting tables... inserting maps... inserting images... captioning... )? And that that feature would become the 'medium' in which s/he is working, which shapes what kind of thinking s/he engages in... But what about creating assertions and marshalling evidence to back them up? And considering multiple points of view, acknowledging a counter-argument, and rebutting? How would the captioner get to do that within his/her medium?

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.