Getting Started: Introduction to The Graduates/Los Graduados and Youth Action

From The Graduates: Youth Action Guide collection, lesson plan 1 of 7

Objectives: Participants will reflect on their experiences with education and evaluate the opportunities available to them for support and success.

  • Discuss the overall issue of graduation rates of Latino youth and some of the possible issues involved
  • Frame the themes that appear in the film and subsequent session activities
  • Look at a toolbox of strategies youth organizers can access for organizing campaigns for social change

Principal Writer: David Maduli is an independent educational consultant who has contributed many curriculum guides and conducted various workshops for PBS and ITVS programs. He has a master's in teaching and curriculum from Harvard Graduate School of Education and has extensive experience as a veteran Bay Area public school language arts and social studies teacher. He is currently at Mills College as a new teacher coach and Community Engagement Fellow in the Mills College creative writing program.

Time: 1-3 hours with full film screening


Opening Circle (20 minutes)

  1. As participants enter, give them a color-coded (six colors) or numbered card (1-6) with the following statements written or printed on one side:

    • “Every year, 1 in 5 Latino students will not graduate from high school on time.”
    • “In 2011, only 14 percent of Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds were high school dropouts, half the level in 2000 (28 percent).” (Source)

    On the reverse of the card write or print these three prompts:

    • What do you think of these statistics?
    • What do you think are contributing factors to both the high dropout rate and the increase in the number of Latino students who graduate and go on to college?
    • What is one thing that could be done to keep improving these numbers?
  2. Form a standing circle with everyone. Go around and ask each person to introduce themselves and share their response to the prompts.

  3. After everyone has had a turn, ask for any additional responses sparked by what people in the circle have said.

Small Group Interviews (20 minutes)

  1. Direct everyone to find participants in the circle with matching colored or numbered cards. This will be their group — have them sit together. They can choose roles such as facilitator, recorder, timekeeper, materials manager, and reporter to get everyone involved.

  2. Within the small groups, have members take turns being the interviewee. The other group members will take turns asking the questions below along with follow-up questions to get deeper responses:

    • How would you say you are doing in your school and your educational career? What things are helping you? What forces make it challenging?
    • How would you say Latinos are doing at your school and in your community? What groups, clubs, and organizations are there to support Latino students? Which adults — teachers, parents, coaches, mentors — are supportive of Latino teens?
    • What are some of the larger social and economic factors behind why so many young Latinos still struggle to graduate and go on to college?
    • Describe a time you were a positive influence to a peer.
    • What can you do to address the high dropout rate?
    • What can your larger community do?
  3. After everyone in the group has had a chance to speak, direct groups to work together to make an outline, web, or chart on poster paper with:

    • Quotes and phrases that stood out
    • Challenges to Latino student success — people, policies, laws, conditions, etc.
    • Supports — people, organizations, activities, policies
    • Actions — what we can do as individuals and as a collective
    • An illustration or graphic summing up the group's ideas (for example: an image of a bridge that leads to a high school diploma)

Large Group Share-Out (10 minutes)

  1. Have each group present their posters.

  2. As a large group, discuss similarities and differences across the presentations, things that were striking, and questions that came up.


The Graduates/Los Graduados Screening (the full film is 2 hours) or Community Cinema Discussion Guide Reading (20 minutes)

Since this initial Getting Started gathering is for youth leaders, you may want to incorporate a full screening of the film during this session or in conjunction with it, as the six individual segments are referenced in the modules that follow. Refer to the Community Cinema Discussion Guide for deeper context and other resources for hosting this screening and for debriefing after.

If time is limited, have participants read the Community Discussion Guide for a synopsis of the film and each of the stories of the youth profiled within. Participants can watch the film outside of this session on their own time, or you can schedule a separate screening.


Closing Circle (5 minutes)

Return to a standing circle with all participants. This time go around and have each person repeat one phrase or quote that someone else in the group said that stood out to them.

There are no extension activities.

  • Film module:
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