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This page contains a "menu" of lessons and activities for this week. You will find the objectives: the specific skills that you work on. Then you will find a selection of lessons and activities which help you practice and master those skills. If you run into technical issues or other difficulties with any of these, simply move on and choose another.


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Culturally Relevant ELA - Week Six

Printable Version of this lesson board in PDF format

11th/12th Grade ELA

Week 6 May 11-May 15, 2020

Objectives: Students will be able to:

  • examine critically the nature of motherhood by reading a selection of poems on the topic, available on the poetry foundation website, and
  • select one for literary analysis.
  • read the attached poem la jefita” and examine the related image.
  • describe how the two works may relate to each other.
  • compose a free verse poem characterizing a particular mother.

From the Poetry Foundation
Poems About Motherhood
by various authors

Personal Literacy Connection
Mother’s Day in Mexico is always celebrated on the 10th of May. This year, coincidentally, the U.S. is also celebrating Mother’s Day on the 10th. As you complete the reading and writing lessons listed below, take note of the emotions and memories that the tasks may evoke in you.

Lesson 1: After reading several of the works available on the Poems About Motherhood web page, including at least one from each of the first four subcategories, select one poem to analyze through the use of the attached ten-item Poetry Response graphic organizer.

Lesson 2: Write a one-paragraph caption of at least 50 words, explaining how the poem “La Jefita” relates to the image entitled “Proud Farm Worker Parents and Daughter.” Point out some of the ways that the family in the poem resembles and/or differs from the family depicted in the image.

Lesson 3: Compose a free verse poem of at least 20 lines characterizing your mother or any other mother in your extended family. Avoid sentimentality and focus on concrete, vivid details about the woman’s physical appearance and personal traits, such as the shape of her eyes, the sound of her laughter or the smell of her hair. Include details about some incident the two of you were involved in and which has left a lasting impression on you. (There are excellent examples in the “Children on Their Mothers” subsection of the assigned website.)

Journal Writing: Reflect on the advice or lessons you have received over the years from your mother, grandmother, aunt, elder sister, or any other adult woman in your extended family, and write a journal entry about the best and worst advice or lesson they have ever given you.


chorro- a flow
dando segundo a los ruidos nocturnos- adding rhythm to the night’s sounds
bacín- chamber pot
y los perros ladrando- and the barking of dogs

Although contemporary Mexican American literature appears predominantly in English, some works employ code switching, typically English and Spanish. Such works can be especially challenging for monolingual readers of English, but context often explains the meanings. The classic poem shown below, originally published in 1969, is a prime example. The title La Jefita (literally “The Little Chief”) is a slang honorific for “mother.” The poem aptly describes the conditions under which women farmworkers toiled, but it also illustrates the tradition of idolizing Mexican mothers as las mujeres abnegadas (long-suffering women), a concept that is now strongly criticized by Chicana feminists.

La Jefita
by José Montoya (1932-2013)

When I remember the camps
and the nights and the sounds
of those nights in tents or
campers, I remember my jefita 's
rolling pin
Clik-clok; clik-clak-clok

And her soft cough.
(I swear she never slept!)

Reluctant awakenings a la media
noche y la luz prendida

A noisy chorro missing the

¿Qué horas son, amá?
Es tarde, mijito. Cover up
your little brothers.

And I, regretful but too sleepy,

Go to bed, little mother!

A maternal reply mingled with
the hissing of the hot planchas
Y los frijoles de la olla
boiling musically dando segunda
a los ruidos nocturnos and
the snores of the old man.

Lulling sounds y los perros
ladrando—then the familiar
hallucinations just before sleep.

And my jefita is no more.

But then it was time to get up!
My old man had a way of whistling
that irritated the world to

Wheeeeeeeeeet! Wheeeeeeet!

Arriba, cabrones chavalos

Y todavía la pinche
noche oscura
y la jefita slapping tortillas.

Prieta! Help with the lonches!
Caliéntale agua a tu ’apá!
(Man, my jefita never slept!)

And in the fields, as she pulled her cien
libras of cotton,
my jefito would smile and say,
That woman—she only complains
in her sleep!

Proud Farm Worker Parents & Daughter


Student Name: ______________________________________________ Period: _____________

Selected Poem’s Title: ______________________________________ Poet: _______________________

This graphic organizer is intended as a way to gather ideas leading to a more formal analytical essay.

1. What feelings arise in you as you read this poem?

2. What memories or past experiences came to you as you read?

3. What images are most striking, and which of your senses do they awaken?

4. What other poetic devices—such as repetition, allusion, irony, onomatopoeia, or symbolism—does the poem contain?
5. What parts of the poem puzzled you or posed questions in your mind?

6. As titles are sometimes ironic, what additional meaning might be contained in the poem’s title?

7. What can you tell about the speaker in the poem—and how?

8. Why do you think the poet chose this narrator?

9. Why do you think the writer decided to use poetry rather than prose?

10. After each poem, a short bio of the poet appears. In what way can such information offer some insight into the poem’s meaning?

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