Lesson Title: Conquering Goliath César e chávez at the Beginning Grade Level

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Lesson Title:

Conquering Goliath César E Chávez at the Beginning

Grade Level:

11th Grade

Unit of Study:

Post-World War II America (1945-1960), Continuity and Change

History-Social Science Standards:

11.6.5; 11.8.2; 11.10; 11.10.5; 11.11; 11.11.6

Correlation to U.S. History texts:

School Districts choose from 5 or 6 publications. All have chapters on Post-war America.

Setting the Context:

During World War II farmers, especially those growing fruits and vegetables, came to rely on Mexican guest workers known as "braceros." After the war, as "locals," American citizens and legal immigrants, returned from the military or defense industries, they sought the agricultural jobs they had held before the war. A conflict arose between the economic interests of agri-business and the civil rights and treatment of farm workers. Farm workers had not been covered by the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which provided industrial workers the right to form unions and enter into collective bargaining. Nor were farm workers covered under the 1939 Fair Labor Standards Act establishing a minimum hourly wage and maximum hours of work per week. Consequently, farm workers, who performed the most difficult work, worked the longest hours and received the lowest pay. They had no union to represent them or protect them from unscrupulous employers or corrupt labor contractors. Although Public Law 78, which had implemented the bracero program, clearly stated that "locals" had to be hired before Mexican nationals, grower associations, labor contractors and individual farmers found various ways to circumvent the law.

In 1958, the Community Service Organization (CSO), founded by Fred Ross, Sr., sent César Chávez to Oxnard, California to organize the Mexican American community ("la colonia"), and to work with the United Packinghouse Workers of American (UPWA.). Through community based organizing, César Chávez was to lay the groundwork for a farm workers union. Conquering Goliath is the story of César Chávez's first fight to get rights for farm workers, the hurdles he had to overcome, the organizing techniques he employed, and the success he finally achieved. His experience in Oxnard was to be a microcosm of and a preparation for his experience as the founder and leader of the United Farm Workers of America. Conquering Goliath César at the Beginning was written by Fred Ross Sr. Ross, who recruited César as a voter registrar for the C S O m San Jose, California in 1952, trained him as an organizer and became his friend and mentor. The book was published in 1989 by El Taller Grafico Press and is available through the United Farm Workers of America. Keene, California.
Focus Question:

What difficulties did César Chávez encounter during his first attempt to organize farm workers, and what organizational techniques and personal qualities did he display during this struggle?

Expected Learning Outcomes:

Students will explain the plight of farm workers, the role of community-based organizations, the need to protect worker rights, the role of government in enacting and enforcing the law, and how peaceful, non-violent change is possible.


After reading Conquering Goliath César in the Beginning, students in groups of 4 -5 will construct a board game representing César Chávez's experience in Oxnard. Upon completion of the games, each group will explain their game to the class and students will have an opportunity to play a game created by another group. A rubric is included for teacher assessment of the board games.

Key Concepts:

Civil Rights, non-violent protest, change, community service, social justice, democracy, and leadership

Essential Vocabulary:

  1. Braceros – Mexican nationals allowed into the United States from 1942-1965 for farm labor. They were intended as a temporary work force.

  2. Colonia - Spanish for a community that is predominately Latino. Also referred to as the barrio.

  3. Community Service Organization (CSO) - An organization established in Latino communities throughout California, designed to mobilize political power for social change. Through citizenship training and voter registration, the CSO empowers people to fight discrimination in housing, education and employment to combat police brutality, and to work for community improvement in the form of lighting sidewalks, traffic signals, health clinics and recreational facilities.

  4. Department of Labor - Represented by Mr. Crittendon, Department of Labor was interested in enforcing Federal laws relating to braceros and local farm workers. In 1958, they sided with the farm workers.

  5. Dichos - Sayings in Spanish that reflect the culture of Mexico and the "wisdom of ages". Dichos are similar to Chinese proverbs.

  6. Employment Service - California State Employment Service was responsible for enforcing state laws regarding employment. Mr. Carr represented the Employment Service in 1958 and was sympathetic to the plight of locals. He worked with César Chávez and the CSO to change the Ventura Farm Placement policies.

  7. Farm Placement (FP) - State agency set up with county offices to coordinate employment needs of farmers with available workers. Mr. Hayes was in charge of the Ventura County Farm Placement and cooperated fully with the Growers Association.

  8. Fred - Fred Ross, Sr., is the author of the book. He tells the story as César Chávez told it to him. Ross recruited César when he was setting up the San Jose CSO in 1952, and he trained César as an organizer and later worked with him in the United Farm Workers Union.

  9. Growers Association ("the Association") - An organization of local farmers, in essence a farmers union designed to promote the interests of growers through numbers.

  10. Hellerstein Plan - An agreement between the CSO and the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA) which called for César Chávez, at the time a CSO organizer, to establish a CSO office in Oxnard and organize farm workers. This was intended to set the groundwork for launching a farm workers union.

  11. Labor Contractors - Middlemen who brought in the braceros, fed and housed them, and then contracted out their labor for a commission. Zamora was the leading labor contractor in Oxnard.

  12. Locals - American citizens and legal immigrants who live in the area and are farm workers. In Oxnard, in 1958, most of the “locals” were unemployed because farmers preferred to lure braceros.

  13. March - Tactic used by workers to mobilize community support for their cause, to attract media attention, and to influence those who make and enforce public policy. A well-organized march is a form of non-violent protest and an effective tactic to bring about change.

  14. Public Law 78 - Known as the Bracero Law, restricted use of bracero where local farm workers were available.

  15. Referral Cards - Paperwork required by the Farm Placement agency. Farm workers had to fill out job applications several pages long before they could receive a referral card sending them to a job site. This was part of the bureaucratic red tape designed to discourage locals from applying for jobs.

  16. Strike - A tactic used by workers to put economic pressure on their employer by withholding services. The strike was not an effective weapon as long as braceros could be used as "strikebreakers”.

  17. United Packinghouse Workers of America - The union that represented workers in the packing sheds, who packed the produce for shipping. They were interested in organizing farm workers in 1958, but had been unsuccessful. Under the Hellerstein Plan, the UPWA would step in and set up a union after César Chávez and COS had organized the farm workers. Rachel Guajardo and Eddie Perez were in charge of the local UPWA union.

  18. Voter Registration Drive - The primary organizational tool of the CSO. Designed to empower people in the community and to facilitate change. When combined with get-out-the-vote drives, voter registration drives attract the attention of elected officials. The more registered voters a group has the more responsive officials are to them. Note how the sheriff responded when he heard César Chávez was with the CSO. They had turned out over 1100 voters in the colonia, three times the previous record, and they were a political force to contend with.

Primary Sources:

Conquering Goliath César in the Beginning by Fred Ross Published by El Taller Grafico Press, United Farm Workers/Keene, California (ISBN 0-9625298-0-X).



Photographs of César Chávez and Fred Ross. Students will construct their own timeline of events as part of the game board.



Show examples of board games such as Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, or Candyland. Demonstrate the “Chance" or "Community Chest" cards. Ask students if they would like to create their own game representing an important figure and key issue in American history.

Making Connections:

You might review the New Deal policies including the 1935 National Labor Relations Act and the 1939 Fair Labor Standards Act. A discussion of the migrant farm workers who fled the Dust Bowl and the migrant camps they lived in could be used to introduce the Bracero Program enacted in 1942. Students can see the temporary shortage of agricultural workers during World War II did not necessarily exist in the post-war years. Also the African American Civil Rights movement, winch began m the mid 1950s, encouraged Latinos to use non-violent protest as a means of ending discrimination and achieving justice and equality.

Vocabulary Activities:

  1. The vocabulary terms and definitions should be given to each student before they read Conquering Goliath.

  2. Students must have a working knowledge of these terms to construct their game

  3. All of the vocabulary words/terms must be represented either on the “Chance” cards or as squares on the board game

Guided Instruction:

Students must read Conquering Goliath César in the Beginning. A guided discussion of the key events covered in the book might be necessary for some classes. A question and answer session after the students read the book and before they begin designing their board games might help clarify some points. Students should be assigned to groups of 4 – 5, then given an assignment sheet and a copy of the rubric used in evaluating this project. Step by step procedures are provided in the Assignment Sheet and Daily Assignments.

Integrating Language:

Students will need to read a book. Working in groups, students will have to communicate with each other. They will have to write the instructions for their game as well as the information on the "Chance" cards. When their game is complete, they will make an oral presentation explaining their game to the class. The completed game boards will provide a visual representation of the struggle for farm worker rights.


Students may read one of the following books on César Chávez:

CÉSAR CHÁVEZ A TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT by Richard Griswold del Castillo and Richard A. Garcia



Students could also view the PBS documentary by Rick Tejada and Ray Telles entitled THE FIGHT IN THE FIELDS CÉSAR CHÁVEZ AND THE FARMWORKERS MOVEMENT.

Students will be assessed based on the game they design and their oral presentation. A rubric is provided.

Service Learning:

Suggested projects:

  1. Students could identify a problem on campus and organize an effort to solve the problem.

  2. Students could volunteer m a health clinic that serves migrant farm workers.

3 Students could organize a food drive or holiday gift drive for needy families in the community.

4 Students could set up a "Service Center" of peer helpers to help fellow students with problems on campus.

5 Students could investigate the use of dangerous chemicals, i.e., fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, methol bromide, etc., on adjacent farmlands, and publicize the situation.
Reflection on Service Learning: After completing any of the activities above, students should take time to reflect and write their feelings on what the goals of the activity were and whether they felt they were successful in accomplishing them. Students should also note any personal feelings and experiences that occurred during the activity.
Each group will design a board game representing the events which occurred m Oxnard, California between the summer of 1958 and the fall of 1959, as described in Conquering Goliath César in the Beginning. The object of each game will be to represent the conditions that existed, the problems César Chávez encountered, the organizational techniques he used, and the successes he achieved. Make your game fun to play and informative.

  1. Each group will have 4-5 members Each group will select its own group Organizer/Leader, Recorder, Presenter, and Timer

  2. The game will have 50 or more spaces on the board, not including blank spaces, which represent conditions, problems, organizing techniques, and achievements.

  3. Each student is to design six "Chance" cards representing circumstances described in the book. Three must result in moving ahead on the game board and three must result m moving backward.

  4. The game must have an original name, and the board must be designed to represent the plight of the local farm workers. A colorful background with artwork or pictures representing key events is strongly suggested.

  5. Each student must provide an appropriate editorial cartoon to insert in one of the blank spaces. Students may design their own cartoon similar to the one described on page 67 of Conquering Goliath or they may down load editorial cartoons from EL MALCRIADO, the paper published by the United Farm Workers Union.

  6. Each group will create 4-5 movable pieces used to play the game. Each member of the group will design a piece representing a member of the Oxnard CSO. They must turn in a paragraph describing that person and the role they played in the farm workers struggle.

  7. Each group must provide a method of determining the number of spaces a player moves each turn. They can create their own spinner or provide a dice.

  8. Each group must include a detailed instruction sheet on how to play the game. Instructions should include how players can win the game and how they might lose the game.

  9. When the game board is completed, the presenter in each group will explain the game and what it represents to the rest of the class.

  10. Each member of the group must come to class each day of this activity to receive full credit. Students will receive individual grades as well as group grades.


  1. Assemble into groups and select the following:

  1. Group Organizer/Leader- responsible for dividing up the work evenly between members of the group, and making sure assignments are completed.

  2. Presenter-makes the oral presentation explaining your game to the class.

  3. Recorder -completes the daily progress sheets and turns them in to the teacher.

  4. Timer-keeps track of time and keeps the rest of the group on schedule.

      1. Assign a member of the group to purchase a large piece of white poster board.

      2. Decide on a tentative name for your game and choose a format/design for the game board (i.e., Monopoly, Shoots and Ladders, etc.).

      3. Generate a list of conditions and problems faced by local farm workers in Oxnard, hurdles and problems encountered by César Chávez in organizing farm workers, organizational methods and tactics used to empower farm workers, groups and people who helped the Oxnard. CSO in their efforts, achievements of César Chávez in organizing people in the Oxnard Colonia.


Each student is to come up with 10 things to add to the class list. This is to be turned in the following day.

1 Names of members of the group present, and the role they have been assigned.
Name Role

2 Name of person who will provide poster board

3 Tentative name for your group’s board game
4 Brief description of game format/design

5 Attach the list you generated in class - it will be returned to you tomorrow.

1 Assemble into groups. Recorder will take the roll.

2 Share the items you wrote down as homework with the rest of the group. Recorder will add them to the list your group began yesterday.

3 Discuss how you could represent the items on your list either as spaces on your game board or as "Chance" cards.

4 Divide up items on the list among the members of your group.

5 Make a rough draft of your game board on a separate piece of paper (SAVE POSTER BOARD FOR FINAL DRAFT)


Each member of the group must design 10 spaces on the board and 6 “Chance" cards (see requirement #3 on Assignment Sheet). These written forms are to be turned-m the following day.


1. Name of Group ______________________________________________________
2. Members of group present:










3. Summarize progress/state problems.

4. Attach the homework collected from group members.
1 Assemble into groups. Recorder will take roll.

2 Share the homework ideas with the group.

3 Divide group in half. Half of the group can begin drawing the game on the poster board while the other half writes the actual "Chance" cards.

4 Decide the size of editorial cartoons and where they will be placed on the board.

5 Decide the size and shape of your game pieces and the materials that will he used.


Each student must come up with an editorial cartoon representing the farm worker's struggle, either of your own design or off the Internet (see Requirement #5)

Identify five farm workers mentioned in Conquering Goliath and briefly describe them.


1. Name of Group ______________________________________________________

2. Members of group present:










3. Attach the homework collected from group members.

1 Assemble into groups. Recorder will take roll.

2 Share your list of farm workers with the group and decide which ones you want to be represented on your movable pieces. Assign one member of the group to constant the movable pieces.

3 Students who were working on the game board should continue their work.

4 Students who were working on "Chance" cards should continue their work

5 Place the editorial cartoons on the board.

6 Assign a group member to bring either a spinner or die (See Requirement #7) the following day


Finish any work not completed in class. Share telephone numbers and make arrangements to meet if necessary. The group presenter should prepare to explain the game to the class.

1. Name of Group ______________________________________________________

2. Members of group present:










3. Summarize progress/state problems.

4. Attach the homework collected from group members.
1 Assemble into groups. Recorder will take roll.

2 Make finishing touches on your game board.

3 Write a detailed list of instructions for playing your game (see Requirement #8)

4 Play your game and work out any bugs you might discover.

5 Exchange games with another group and play their game.


Each student is to write a paragraph describing the person they represented on the movable game piece and the role they played in the farm workers struggle. You are to write another paragraph describing what you learned about César Chávez and the plight of farm workers.
1. Name of Group ______________________________________________________
2. Members of group present:










3. Summarize progress/state problems.

4. Attach the homework collected from group members.

4 Write suggestions on how this assignment could be improved.

5 What did you like best about this assignment?
1 Ask presenters from each group to explain to the class how their game works and what it represents.

2 Discuss the lessons learned from constructing these games (see introduction to Assignment Sheet for possible discussion questions).

3 Use the rubric provided to evaluate the game boards. The Daily Progress Sheets will facilitate evaluating individual students.

NAME OF GAME _______________________________________PERIOD_______

Members of Group

1 2

3 4
5 6

Grading Criteria





1 Must have 50 spaces with information


2 Game represents all major issues of book


3 24 or 30 "Chance" cards (depends size of group)


4 Content of' “Chance” cards (relevance)


5 Design of board spaces and format


6 Design of background (artwork and/or pictures)


7 Four or five Editorial Cartoons (depends size of group}


8 Movable pieces and method for determining how players move (i.e., Dice, spinner, etc.)


9 Detailed instructions on how to play and win game


10 Presentation (colorful, interesting, neatly done)


11 Originality and Creativity - Is Game Fun and Challenging?






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