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Jorge Ortega

Teacher Bio
Jorge Ortega taught Social Studies to Bilingual students at East Boston High, a School to Career School. He is a Technology Support Teacher and key player in using technology to support learning. Jorge has collaborated on classroom stories for WGBH's "Eye on Education" series. He is a participant in a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad implemented by the Center for International Education at the University of Massachusetts and Boston University's African Studies Outreach Program. Recognizing the importance of community and youth involvement in civic duties, Jorge is currently working to enhance higher education opportunities for immigrant youth. This teacher's activism is driven by his belief that an informed, critically thinking population is key to a strong and attentive community.

Subject Areas
Social Studies,English Language Arts

Grade Levels
9 - 12

Bilingual high school students



Don't Just Dream - Act ~
Higher Education for All


Key Question How can high school students affect community change while advocating higher education opportunities for all?

Overview Agreeing that a dream deferred is a terrible thing, these Social Studies students vow to do something. They research and evaluate the adverse effects of current legislation for undocumented students. Their assessment? A campaign to amend state law and allow immigrants lacking legal status to attend Massachusetts higher education institutions at in-state rates. To spread their message, the young reformers become civically involved. They write letters, create banners, T-shirts, and buttons. Students also testify at City Hall and contact State Representatives and Congressmen. As they research how education can affect social and cultural change, participants resolve that committed groups can influence history. At the school based Learn and Serve Fair, their student-produced computer slide show convinces peers and visitors that informed students can successfully act as agents of change.

Active Exploration + Applied Learning + Adult Connections
Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Discuss real life stories of immigrant students facing obstacles to higher education.
Agree to address problem.
Research education as a means of social change.
Learn how laws are made.
Compare pending federal legislation: Senate's DREAM Act & House's Student Adjustment Act.
Identify state bill promoting education for undocumented immigrant minors.
Prepare questions for local elected officials.
Schedule visits to City Hall & elected leaders' offices.
Produce papers, letters campaign materials & computer slide show urging passage of legislation.
Plan Learn & Serve Fair.
Sign up to work on related activities at ASPIRE local youth center.
Contact community groups with same interests.
Distribute campaign information to students in other schools.
Participate in meetings & events sponsored by MIRA Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
Testify at City Council supporting state bill.
Congratulate Councilor-at-large on his position.
Attend public hearing on bill at State House.
Present project description at school Learn & Serve Fair.
Visit office of local Congressman & discuss issues with congressional aides.
Observe & interact with elected officials at City Hall & State House.
Research background & educational history of elected leaders.
Use communications & technology skills in campaign products.
Recognize organizations & groups that support immigrant rights.
Work with local newspapers & journals to publicize campaign efforts.
Research Immigration Law resources.
Pledge to continue campaign efforts during summer & upcoming year.

Strategize to campaign for other immigrant issues.

Academic Rigor

Learning Standards English Language Arts and Social Studies
Use agreed-upon rules for informal and formal discussions in small and large groups.
Listen, respond to, and build on ideas generated during group discussions.
Use information to inform or change their perspectives.
Deliver informal and formal presentations, giving consideration to audience, purpose and content.
Demonstrate understanding of reference materials.
Develop fluency, accuracy and understanding when reading different texts.
Collect information for writing from different texts and sources
Maintain a process for recording, collecting, referring to, and sharing ideas
Write in a well-organized manner using logical organization, effective supporting evidence, and variety in sentence structure.
Be familiar with historical key people, places, events, documents, movements, and other details.
Demonstrate an understanding of cause and effect, and the relations between events.
Make connections between key people and events.
Compare and contrast ideas, rituals, customs, and concerns.

School to Career Competencies

Communicate and understand ideas and information.
Collect, analyze and organize information.
Identify and solve problems.
Use technology.
Initiate and complete entire activities.
Act professionally.
Interact with others.
Take responsibility for career and life choices.


Students collaborating on flyers, brochures, pins, etc. regularly confer on quality and appropriateness of campaign materials. Teacher and students discuss effectiveness after visits to organizations and offices. Teacher uses Rubric to evaluate project papers. Feedback and dialogue from legislators and representatives of participating groups assess students' comprehension and persuasive abilities.

Software or Materials Used For technology: Internet, digital camera, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Frontpage, Inspiration Software; for research: Internet Sites; Maps, World Atlas, U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts, The Nation, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Neighborhood Newspapers

Teacher Developed Materials Evaluation Rubric, Guidelines for Campaign Materials and Project Paper

Student Developed Materials Flyers, Banners, Pins, T-shirts, Project Papers, Computer Slide Show

Web Sites ASPIRE Youth Development Center at EBECC East Boston Ecumenical Community Council, IIC Irish Immigration Center, MAPS Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers, Massachusetts Elections Division, MIRA Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights.

Final Words Direct participation in the legislative process not only helps students understand civic duties and responsibilities, but it illustrates that students can successfully open communication channels with community and elected leaders. At this point, we are uncertain of the outcome of "An Act Relating to the Eligibility of Certain Persons to Qualify as Residents of this State for Purposes of Higher Education Tuition." What we do know is that participating students understand how the process works, a lesson they'll never forget.

Teacher Tip Don't underestimate young learners. Provided with the proper tools and information access, they can advance their own learning, strengthen the community, and achieve beyond our wildest dreams.

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