Nicaragua, Imperialism, and National Identity

Lessons:

  • A Basic History of Nicaragua: A basic overview of Nicaraguan history and culture through the end of the modern period, with a focus on the post-colonial period.
  • William Walker, the Grey-Eyed Man of Destiny: William Walker was an American  who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as “filibustering.”
  • Augusto Sandino, National Hero: From 1927 until 1933, Gen. Augusto César Sandino led a sustained guerrilla war first against the Conservative regime and subsequently against the U.S. Marines, whom he fought for over five years. He was referred to as a “bandit” by the United States government; his exploits made him a hero throughout much of Latin America, where he became a symbol of resistance to United States’ domination.
  • The Sandinistas: The Sandinista National Liberation Front – also called the Sandinistas – are a former guerrilla army and ruling party of Nicaragua. Following a decade of single party rule, they submitted to free and fair elections in 1990, ushering in Nicaragua’s current period of period of peace, democratic stability, and relative prosperity after decades of corrupt dictatorship, civil war, and domination by the U.S. and its corporations.

Scenes from Nicaragua, 2015 – supplementary photos to enhance a sense of place.

This unit is broken into four media rich texts, each of which should take approximately one class period for students to process.  These are completely modular – they can be taught consecutively in cooperation with each other or as standalone lessons.  Texts are based on original writing by the author and open sourced texts from the internet at large.  They are full of hyperlinks, encouraging curious students to click and surf in a natural and fluid digression that enriches the central concepts.  The texts are accompanied by three to four prompts which are designed to function according to an educator’s need.  Most can serve alternatively as discussion or short answer questions, essay prompts, or departure points for further research into Nicaraguan history, or the basis of full on student projects.  If a teacher were to assign every prompt, this unit could serve as the basis of an intensive, Common Core aligned two-three week investigation of Nicaragua appropriate for either middle or high school grades, but at its core, it is designed to serve as a basic primer on the key events, notable cultural contributions, and major figures of Nicaraguan history.

Grade Level: adaptable between grades 6-12 with modifications and extensions

Length of Time: Each lesson takes one 50 minute class period

Objectives: Students will be able to discuss and evaluate the significance of the key events, notable cultural contributions, and major figures of Nicaraguan history. Students will be able to discuss and evaluate the significance of the key events, notable cultural contributions, and major figures of Nicaraguan history.  Students will be able to examine and evaluate related concepts from the history of Nicaragua and from their own nation through extended research prompts included within the lessons.

Standards Reference:

  • Middle School: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.1, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.10.
  • High School: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.8

Teacher Background Information: Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua, is the largest country in the Central American isthmus. The population of Nicaragua is slightly over 6 million. Nicaragua’s capital Managua is the third-largest city in Central America.

Procedures: Assign text before or during class.  Preview the numbered prompts at the end of each text.  Select the prompt or prompts that is most appropriate to your time, grade level, or objective, allowing appropriate time for students to complete prompt to your expectations.

Enduring Understandings: Students who complete this unit will develop a basic understanding and appreciation of the key events, notable cultural contributions, and major figures of Nicaraguan history.  They will be provided with opportunities to reflect on points of view foreign and alternative to their own, and to consider the world and their place in it.

Modifications and Extensions: This unit is broken into four media rich texts, each of which should take approximately one class period for students to process.  These are completely modular – they can be taught consecutively in cooperation with each other or as standalone units.  The texts are accompanied by three to four prompts which are designed to function according to a teacher’s need.  Most can serve alternatively as discussion or short answer questions, essay prompts, or departure points for further research into Nicaraguan history, or the basis of full on student projects.

Sources: In accordance with the philosophy that every student deserves a free, high quality education – and therefore educational materials should be free.  Every effort has been made to use open-sourced text and media as the basis of these lessons.  Sources are typically hyperlinked with each text, allowing students the opportunity to extend their own reading beyond the specifically assigned text.  A large portion of the research for this unit was completed on a personally funded excursion to Nicaragua in 2015.

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