Research the folklore and history of Cape Verde through interviews with artists, entrepreneurs, laborers and scholars to create literacy resources for a pilot school serving a student population that largely emigrated from the island nation.
Our objective was to visit Cape Verde capture authentic experiences as well as deeper insights into country’s history so we could write children’s books that represented a more accurate portrayal of the homeland for a large number of our students. As a result, we have collected ideas and photographs for books on a range of topics from Cidade Velha, to a plant nursery at Boa Entrada. We met experts in history as well as the arts who have taught us as well as given us access to primary sources.
Our goal is to create and use books that are accessible to readers at different levels. For example, “Beginning” would address readers at the basic literacy level affecting simple sentence structures and vocabulary. These are typically books read between kindergarten and second grade. “Middle” level books address the reading interests and needs of students at the third through fifth grade. We will use these texts to teach our students how to read as well as help them learn history.
My greatest accomplishment was being able to meet and interview Iva Cabral, the daughter of the slain leader of Cape Verde, Amilcar Cabral. She is a historian and has agreed to work with us throughout the year, to create history picture books for children. Throughout my interview with her she emphasized the importance of people knowing and understanding their history. She is making her own personal photos and other items available for our use in creating these books.
Our Cape Verdean children's books will impact our student population in several ways. First of all, we will be creating prototypes of books that our students and their families will see and use and experience the representation of their culture in history, as not seen before in texts. Secondly, we will be implementing a school wide project through classes as well as our after school program to have our students continue creating these books.
This year we will continue to have our Family Literacy Nights, however with a new purpose. This year we will introduce the idea of representing personal history and culture in these events. Our colleagues who participate in this will have an opportunity to see how the work is done and even participate in creating the texts. Additionally, all of the school community will have opportunities to use these texts in their classrooms.
We plan to have at least two major events during the year, as well as the monthly Literacy Nights that will highlight the history and culture of our students. The first major event will be a exhibit opening for the photographs of Kuny Mendes, who was one of the artists we met in Cape Verde. We purchased nine of his photos that our students will create a museum display of based on research they do. Additionally, we will have a publishing party for our books at the end of the year.
One major issue has been that Cape Verdean history is not represented in any text books or picture books in Boston Public Schools. Our students will begin to recognize the history and share it with the community as they create the books as well as the photography exhibit.
We set out to learn and understand a history that has been illegal to teach in Cape Verde for many years. Because of this, people were oppressed. I will always work to ensure that all of my students know and understand history so that they will be able to make the most of the lives and be citizens who help make the world a better place for everyone. It is imperative that all students see the representation in our American classrooms or we are doing what the oppressors have done.