Finding A Voice

Author: Sara Patricia Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 2 Class Periods

Make copies of Handout 1 for each student


Handout 1: Outlining notes Computer Room

In this Explain lesson, students will be asked to review speeches Cesar Chavez made to understand how this form of communication can be powerful in grass roots movements as well as review an interview by Dolores Huerta. As a lobbyist, she and Chavez made a formidable team that forced the populace and government to listen to the plight story of the migrant field laborer.

Students will be able to:

  1.  Analyze speeches and articles by outlining their content.
  2. Create a list of dominant themes used in speech and article writing through class discussion and participation.

National Council for History in the Schools:
Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 2A: Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage.
  • Standard 2C: Read historical narratives imaginatively.

United States History Standards

  • Era 9 Standard 4: The struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties.
  • Era 10 Standard 2: Economic, social, and cultural developments in contemporary United States.

Teacher Background
Know the contributions of Cesar Chavez & Dolores Huerta.  See below for more information.

Resource Websites

United Farm Workers
United Farm Workers: http://www.ufw.org/
UFW The Sacramento Bee: http://www.ufw.org/_board.php?mode=view&b_code=news_news&b_no=1649
UFW ‘What is the worth of a farm worker?’ http://www.ufw.org/_page.php?menu=organizing&inc=keycampaign/krug/krugtp.htm

Cesar Chavez
The Cesar Chavez Institute: http://www.cesarechavezinstitute.org/home/
An e-book titled Chavez and the Farm Workers by Ronald Taylor: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=96275289
An e-book on the Farm Worker Movement in the 1960’s: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=57223807

Dolores Huerta Foundation
Dolores Huerta Foundation: http://www.doloreshuerta.org/
Dolores Huerta Biography: http://www.doloreshuerta.org/dolores_huerta_foundation.htm
Dolores Huerta Lesson Plan: http://www.teacherlink.usu.edu/tlresources/units/Byrnes-famous/huerta.html
Dolores Huerta: Si Se Puede (Yes, it can be done) http://www1.cuny.edu/portal_ur/content/womens_leadership/dolores_huerta.html
Dolores Huerta on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolores_Huerta (this page has a link to an audio speech Dolores Huerta made at Tucson High School in April 2006 under the external links section.)



Day 1

  1. As students walk to the computer room, display the slogan: Sí se Puede! on the blackboard.  Refer to above resource titled Si Se Puede (Yes, it can be done).
  2. Explain that such a slogan was only as powerful as a movement that relied on individuals being unafraid to speak out about injustices being committed. That is what Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta did about migrant farm workers in the United States.
  3. Their effort was two-fold in that Cesar Chavez was the field agent who worked on uniting the workers, gave speeches to the public, and conducted fasts to bring attention to worker plight. While Dolores Huerta participated in many of these events, her role was one of lobbyist in Washington, DC constantly bringing the plight of the farm worker to congressional members.
  4. In this activity, students must outline one of Cesar Chavez’s speeches and Dolores Huerta interview used in the previous lesson. They will use the Outlining Notes Form (Handout 1), one for each individual.
  5. For Cesar Chavez, they can choose from the list of speeches (internet addresses) provided below. Only choose one.
  6. They must answer the following question at the end of their speech analysis.
    • What effective strategies in the speeches were used? (The use of factual information, human connections made through real life stories, slogans, and/or clarity and strength of speech.)
  7. For Dolores Huerta, students will use the following interview conducted by Julie Felner.
  8. They must answer the following question at the end of their interview analysis.
    •  What effective strategies does the writer use to communicate Huerta’s opinions? (The use of factual information, human connections through real life stories, slogans, and/or clarity and strength of speech.)
  9. Prepare students that they will be asked to discuss their findings the next day in class.

Day 2

  1. As students walk into class have them take out their analysis notes from the previous day.
  2. The teacher must now lead a class discussion in which students are asked to share the dominant themes in the speech and interview. What were the main ideas and supporting themes?

Teacher Notes: Themes should range around topics of Equality (for men, women, and children), Wages, Working hours, Age limits, Working conditions, Living conditions, Health issues, specific illnesses, Death from riots, Death from health being compromised, & Pesticides.

  1. As students share their ideas, have someone write them on an overhead or on the board for everyone to see.
  2. Once finished, have students, in their own notes; categorize the themes into two dominant categories: Work association or Daily Life association. A theme can go into both categories.  (5 minutes)
  3. This can be done as a class with the teacher going through the list and writing what the class consensus is for each. (10-15 minutes)


  1. Finish with a discussion question:
    • What seem to be the themes that cross over the most between the two categories? (Hint: there should be health related themes in this answer.) 
    • Why is this?

Note  to share with students: Work induced illnesses do not stay at the work place. They go home with the worker where others can be affected.

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
Speech analysis outlining forms.
Class participation in discussion.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: March 7, 2007
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