A new place-based curriculum presented for Valley teachers


VALLEY — The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA), in partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder), has launched a place-based program to train local teachers on creating lessons and curriculum about local culture, history and heritage.

On June 18th, local teachers from the North Conejos and South Conejos school districts were sponsored by the SdCNHA to attended the Summer Latino Teacher Workshop hosted by CU Boulder. The teachers’ travel, lodging, and fees were covered by the SdCNHA. Sixty teachers from Boulder County, and the San Luis Valley attended the workshop. Teachers received CEU credits and graduate credits for the work done during the workshop to create specific lessons for K-12 students.

CU Boulder originally launched the teacher workshop as part of their Boulder County Latino History Project, now in its fifth year. The purpose of the Boulder project is to highlight the Latino contributions that have been almost invisible in standard histories of Boulder County and in the American history taught in local schools. Many families (whether deeply rooted in the community or more recent arrivals) have their own stories about the past, but these memories have rarely been recorded and are in danger of being lost.

Similarly, through placed-based learning, the SdCNHA wishes to highlight the diverse ethnicities and contributions in the San Luis Valley that are also in danger of being lost. Toward that effort, Victoria Martinez and Dr. Benjamin Waddell have worked diligently to collect, record, and preserve over 80 oral histories of Valley locals in video form. These oral history videos are in the process of being made available to the public via the heritage area’s YouTube channel (Sangre NHA). The lessons local teachers will create will be available to Valley teachers and teachers throughout Colorado via the heritage area’s website (sdcnha.org).

There are two dimensions to place-based learning worthy of highlight, as they relate to K-12 schools in the San Luis Valley. Dimension one empowers schools to recognize the value of local knowledge and experience by promoting learning within local communities as a means of forging a deeper connection between students and residents, and in this manner, validating local knowledge and experiences.

Dimension two calls for firm investments in human capital at the local level in order to promote quality leadership within Valley communities. The SdCNHA is interested in investing in local teachers to assist them in creating place-based curriculum that meets Colorado state standards, without adding an additional component to their already hectic teaching schedules.

Possible lesson topics explored by the teachers include: art, music, remedios (remedies), Hispanic migration, agriculture, rural women, conservation, Native American traditions, food traditions, the Spanish dialect of the upper Rio Grande area, and poetry.

Any local teachers within the three counties of the SdCNHA interested in participating in this program who are willing to create K-12 curriculum are urged to contact the SdCNHA at [email protected]