Cultural Wealth Unit

Inquiry Unit for Spanish Middle School Classes

Created by Vivian Ponte-Fritz, Middle School Heritage Spanish Teacher at Prospect Sierra School


Cultural Wealth: Seeing Ourselves from a Strengths-based Perspective

This is a unit for a Spanish middle school class (grades 5-8) that meets multiple times a week in a small group of heritage speakers and students with high proficiency and comprehension levels in the language. The theme is identity exploration, with a focus on the merits of a multilingual and multicultural existence. The unit will run for 3 weeks and will include a variety of assignments and a possibility to contribute the work to a school-wide publication or presentation.



 Big Theme Cultural Wealth: Seeing ourselves from a strengths-based perspective



- Reflect on scholastic identity and identity as native or part Spanish speakers

- Have students reflect on their cultural wealth through research and a written and/or oral presentation

- Semester goal setting: What is holding us back from our cultural wealth? Use these as building blocks for coming units. (Deepen engagement with literacy, increase community engagement, build bridges across school communities -- other heritage speakers, immigrant families, integrating cultural competency across the curriculum, etc).

- Use present perfect

- Encourage a science-backed growth mindset around bilingualism



 - Oral and written reflections to assess individual comfort with the Spanish language and the topic of identity reflection

- Research the ways in which someone you admire (in your life or a changemaker) has acquired, acknowledged, and built upon their cultural wealth

- Assess use of present perfect in research projects



There's Nothing More American Than Speaking Spanish. Here's Why.

Things Bilingual People Do


Watch one of these:

The benefits of a bilingual brain - Mia Nacamulli

Benefits of a Bilingual Brain

The Benefits of Being Bilingual - Univision Noticias

Initial Questionnaire for Students and Interview Subjects or Changemaker:

Tara J. Yosso: cultural wealth: "The Yosso Cultural Wealth Model represents a framework to understand how students of color access and experience school from a strengths-based perspective."

  1. Aspirational: "What are your hopes and dreams?" or "What would the world be like if this person were President?"
  2. Linguistic: "How does speaking Spanish shape your perspective on language arts? or "How does this person express themselves?"
  3. Familial: "What role does your family play in your learning?" or "Who is this person inspired by? Who are their main supporters?"
  4. Social: "What do you need/expect/get from your heritage-speaking peer group?" or "How does this person collaborate?"
  5. Navigational: "What changes for you when you are in English- vs. Spanish-speaking space?" or "What has this person had to do/accomplish to get to the place they are today?"
  6. Resistance: "How has your cultural or linguistic status changed the way you think about concepts of democracy, politics, social justice, and citizenship?" or "What has this person been up against in their journey towards leadership?"

Present Perfect:

The Spanish present perfect (el preterito perfecto compuesto o el antepresente) is used to talk about things that started in the past and which continue or repeat in the present. It's also used to talk about things that have happened in the recent past.


Yo he tenido ayuda con mis quehaceres.

I have had help with my chores.

Ellas han oido la verdad.

They have heard the truth. 


Cultural Wealth Research Project: Students and the teacher will see and use this rubric

5 - Student is far exceeding core expectations in this area

4 - Student is exceeding core expectations in this area

3 - Student is meeting core expectations in this area

2 - Student is approaching core expectations in this area

1 - Area of concern

   5 4-3 2


Use of Present Perfect 90% or higher accuracy 80-90% accuracy 70-80% accuracy Below 70% accuracy
Understanding and Implementation of Cultural Wealth Concept Provided examples of all 6 aspects of the subject's cultural wealth from Yosso's model. Provided examples of 3-5 aspects of the subject's cultural wealth from Yosso's model. Provided examples of 1-2 aspects of the subject's cultural wealth from Yosso's model. Provided no examples of the subject's cultural wealth from Yosso's model.
Spanish Usage 90% and above 80-90% 70-80% Below 70%
Structural Integrity and Clarity

-Met all checkpoint deadlines: (questionnaire, brainstorm, outline, and presentation)

-Added another medium to the presentation (visual/audio component)

- Met most checkpoint deadlines.

-Completed each assignment and made the project their own. 

- Relayed information clearly.

- Met a few checkpoint deadlines.

- Completed most assignments with short and generic comments.

- Some lack of cohesion/clarity.

- Missed all deadlines.

-Assignments missing, incomplete, or plagiarized. 

-Unclear/not cohesive ideas.

- No effort to receive guidance from the teacher. 



  1. Start with a questionnaire. Work with students to decode the vocabulary present in the questions and create the class's own definitions for the notion of wealth and culture. 
  2. Use a graphic organizer to brainstorm as a class, then provide the same organizer for individual brainstorms.
  3. Make an outline, sketch, or list of ideas for the project at least one week before the deadline.
  4. The final presentation can take shape as: A written overview using ample quotes from the interview (as seen in a magazine interview), a photo/art essay that hits each point of cultural wealth and is supported by an oral presentation and quotes or verbal examples from the research subject, or a video presentation containing the points above.


As the project unfolds, provide support to students individually.

Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2020