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Documentaries & Teaching Guides

Centro Documentaries and Teaching guides contain useful tools for teaching about Puerto Ricans in the United States through the lives and work of notable Puerto Ricans who made a difference. Over the last two and a half years, Centro has engaged four educational consultants in the development of seven Teaching Guides: Four guides on notable Puerto Ricans (Pura Belpré, Frank Bonilla, Clemente Soto Vélez and Jesús Colón) were completed by the end of spring 2013. The remaining three Teaching Guides are based on Centro documentaries (Plena is Song; Plena is Work; the Antonio Martorell installation: De aquí pa’llá; and Memories on the Wall: The Murals of María Domínguez).

The Teaching Guides provide an overview for how teachers at the undergraduate level or middle and high school levels can use archival resources to guide students’ projects. Teaching resources include primary sources and documents (accessible at Centro’s website and in its library and archival collection); trade books for children and young adults available at Hunter College or through CUNY inter-library loans; and formative and summative assessments intended to guide teaching and to evaluate instructional outcomes.

All seven teaching guides include an introduction and background essay, information on the historical era, activity guides for two educational settings (middle and high school grades and undergraduate college levels) as well as for after-school and community-based education programs, discussion questions and learning activities, and a bibliography that includes teaching and learning resources.

To find out more about how Centro can help you teach and share our history and culture, email centroed@hunter.cuny.edu


Pura Belpré

Pura Belpré was a Puerto Rican storyteller and folklorist. She built on her love of stories in her career as a librarian at the New York Public Library and as an author. This teaching guide presents a curriculum map for K-12 educators that assumes students will view the documentary about the life and work of Pura Belpré entitled Pura Belpré, Storyteller, and read some of her fiction.


Dr. Frank Bonilla

This teaching guide is built around a documentary, The Legacy of Frank Bonilla, produced by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies/ Centro in 2011. Frank Bonilla was a university researcher and community activist. Bonilla worked on research projects in New York’s Puerto Rican community, various Latin American countries, and Latino/as nationwide.


Clemente Soto Vélez

This teaching guide focuses on the life and work of “revolutionary poet” Clemente Soto Vélez. The guide is built around the documentary, “Clemente Soto Vélez: A Revolt through Letters,” a film that traces major moments in the life of Soto Vélez, from experiences in his early school years that were to mark the course of his life until his passing in San Juan in 1993.


Plena is Song; Plena is Work

Plena is a music performance in the form of storytelling song. Plena is originally a Puerto Rican musical form.  To appreciate the full scope and meaning of plena, we must engage in a journey to explore its cultural milieu and history. The aim of this teaching guide is to use the documentary film, Plena is Work, Plena is Song, as a vehicle to pursue such a journey of exploration.