‘Esperanza Rising’

As part of the Common Core module on human rights, fifth-grade students at North Babylon’s Woods Road Elementary School studied the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and read the fictional story “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan. Set in California during the Great Depression, the story tells the riches-to-rags story of Esperanza, who learns the valuable lesson that there are more important things in life than money.

During their study, the fifth-graders sketched and paraphrased the articles of the UDHR and compared them to the story of Esperanza and her family. Taking their lesson on social studies one step further, teachers Denise Casale and Darren Lotter challenged the students to create skits from the novel. Working in small groups, the students drafted their skits, created scenery and culminated the activity in a special performance for their parents, as well as the kindergarten and first-grade students.

“We read the book and put it into our own words,” said fifth-grader Tamia Tolliver. “We made it easy to understand so the little kids could enjoy the show.”