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
institutions in response to 9/11
H O M E
Go to the main page of
the September 11 Digital Archive
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.