September 11 Digital Archive

F L Y E R S
View flyers distributed in the
streets of NYC after 9/11

R E P O R T S
Read reports written by
organizations and
institutions in response to 9/11

I N T E R V I E W S
Read in-depth oral history
interviews

C O L L E C T I O N S
View collections of documents
from groups and individuals

H O M E
Go to the main page of
the September 11 Digital Archive

Stories
E-mail
Still Images
Moving Images
Audio
Documents
Guide to Websites
About the Archive


Documents- SuperRico
Creating SuperRico

Ms. Nina Anastacia, a teacher at the Puerto Rican Family Institute's PS 721 middle school program, felt it would be helpful to find a way to get the kids work out some of their feelings regarding Sept. 11. while incorporating lessons on grammar and writing. The kids were very excited about the new Spiderman movie that was being promoted and Ms. Anastacia used this to create a lesson plan that would include grammar, writing and emotional issues.

The class had to work as a team to decide what the Superhero would look like and what character attributes it would have. Ms. Anastacia encouraged the kids to look within their own culture to see if there was something, someone they could use as a superhero. The Coqui is a loud tree frog native to Puerto Rico. It is heard throughout the day and its name is akin to the sound it makes, "Coqui" (co-kee). This frog was given muscular strength, street smarts, compassion and an incredibly sticky tongue.

Each student was responsible for one chapter and a drawing. This in itself became a group project because each chapter had to make sense when combined into one story. Again they had to decide as a team, what came first and how the story was going to progress. Grammar lessons included teaching students about verb tenses, (past, present and future) and writing in a distinctive voice; they chose third person for the final draft. The content of the chapters, while written by one person, needed group consensus so that the story made sense.

Ms. Anastacia worked with the kids so that they could respect differing opinions and ideas and learn to negotiate and compromise for the good of the project. The students had the freedom to explore different strengths and challenges for Super Rico as he struggled with family separation and conflict: issues close to home for many of the kids in this setting.

Initially putting together the idea was challenging and there was some concern that it would not take off. However, as soon as it was decided that the chemical 2K0 would morph the plain Coqui into a super Coqui, the lesson took on a life of its own. Initially the focus was to work on a writing assignment of interest but the kids became engrossed in the art work as well. They used their time to meticulously draw their characters and the scenery for their chapters.

The students dedicated the book to "the families of the people who lost their lives in the World Trade Center" and "the real heroes of New York City," members of the police and fire departments. At the end of the year, the students held a party to celebration their accomplishments and distribute the book to their parents, teachers and friends. Their efforts gained media attention, too, such as a feature article in the New York Times. But perhaps most important is the way the project helped them transform a very difficult experience into an opportunity for growth and learning.

- Yolanda Alicea-Winn, the Site Director at the Adolescent Day Treatment Program of the Puerto Rican Family Institute, Inc.

 

SuperRico Front Page

Table of Contents

About the Authors