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Hello everyone! 


Here's a quick update on our contest to celebrate teachers who go the extra mile to get their kids excited about academic growth.


Submissions Are Coming In! Keep 'Em Coming!

We continue to receive nominations from all over, and it's amazing to see and hear about the teachers who are committed to helping their students grow. Every entry has been unique and shown innovative ways to get kids to take an active role in working toward their growth goals. It may be a cliché at this point to tell a teacher that the work they do is inspiring, but with the submissions we've gotten, there really is no better way to put it.  


With that said: the month isn't over yet! We're still accepting submissions through the end of April 2019. If a teacher you know works with their students to get them connected with their own academic growth, submit them through the link above. We want to hear your stories—and don't forget that we're choosing three winners! 


A Few Excerpts

We don't want to spoil the surprises for the winners, but here are a few of the things that you've said with your submissions: 


  • "We titled this celebration 'Meeting Our Goals is so Sweet.' The students could earn special toppings on their ice cream based on their achievement on their spring MAP growth test. [They] were so motivated by this and had such amazing growth this year."
  • "Each student has a Data Binder where they graph percentiles from the first time they took the test to the most current. Percentiles are posted at each testing and screening session—[anonymously] on our class data wall."
  • "This spring, the challenge is to raise their scores for a carry-in, fun food day for each class. Students’ scores continue to rise and meet the challenges…especially when food is involved."


More Soon!

If you haven't completed a nomination yet, now's the time! Winners will be announced during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Recently, we wrote about the MAP Testing Fairy, and how fourth-grade teacher Courtney Dickerson created a program that got her kids so excited about their own academic growth that they started a letter-writing campaign. Other teachers are coming up with their own unique ways to get kids connected with their own growth, too  from special decorations to popcorn parties, powerful things are happening!


So we’re asking: How do you or your colleagues get your students excited about academic growth?


We want to hear your stories: whether it's a pep talk you give your students prior to taking a MAP Growth test, a game a colleague has created to help students manage their progress toward goals, or even your own version of the MAP Testing Fairy, it's all fair game!


Throughout the month of April, we’re accepting teacher nominations then at the start of May, we’ll announce three lucky winners to kick off Teacher Appreciation Week! (We appreciate teachers all year, but we're excited for Teacher Appreciation Week nonetheless.) Three winning teachers will receive $250 each, and we’ll be featuring submitted entries here in the community blog throughout April.


To tell us about your efforts, or to nominate a colleague, send an email to or add a comment below, and be sure to include:


  • The name of your district and school
  • The name of the teacher you’re nominating (Remember: it’s OK to nominate yourself!)
  • A brief description of how they inspire their students to connect with MAP Growth testing, as well as examples of how and why they were so successful. Feel free to include pictures, too!
  • How you prefer to be contacted


For full contest details, you can read the fine print here. 


We're excited to hear from even more teachers about the difference it makes when kids get excited about growth. Check back here in the NWEA community blog for updates throughout the month of April!

Recently on Twitter, we learned about fourth-grade teacher Courtney Dickerson’s unique approach to getting kids excited about growth testing: the MAP Testing Fairy. With encouragement, the right incentives, and a little bit of magic, the MAP Testing Fairy transformed the assessment experience for her students—who went from dreading testing day to writing letters to the MAP Testing Fairy about their own goals.


The MAP Testing Fairy was so inspiring, we reached out to Ms. Dickerson to hear more. Here’s what she had to say.


How did “the MAP Testing Fairy” come about? What inspired you? 

Initially, I tried to use school-wide incentives, which worked, to a degree. But I could see that my students dreaded MAP Growth testing, and they seemed very down whenever we had to do it.


I wanted to do something more to show them that they should care about MAP Growth testing, and I wanted them to be excited to demonstrate all of their knowledge. My students needed help seeing their own growth!


How did the program get started, and how did the kids respond to the MAP Testing Fairy at first?

At the end of our first round of MAP testing in the Fall, I threw confetti everywhere, and hung up a golden curtain over the door that students would walk through. I then wrote a quick note on the whiteboard signed as “The MAP Testing Fairy.” The idea was to create a mascot for celebrating growth, and make it a special occasion.


I had no idea my students would attach themselves to this mythical creature! They were overwhelmed with excitement and pride when they walked in and saw that the MAP Testing Fairy had visited our room.


From then on, I knew that I had to make the MAP Testing Fairy a big part of testing. However, my students were incredibly observant, and they started analyzing the handwriting on the board, and they eventually asked for handwriting samples to compare with the MAP Testing Fairy. Talk about engagement! This led me to ask several different teachers to write on the board for me—so the handwriting was constantly changing.


For subsequent MAP Growth assessments, I would mention the MAP Testing Fairy, and remind students that she only comes to our room if we all work hard to show growth. That got them motivated! They began looking forward to MAP testing. They started asking things like, “How much longer ‘til our next round of testing?”, or showing me their regular schoolwork and saying, “This is going to help me on my MAP test.”


What impact did the MAP Testing Fairy have on your classroom's culture?

My favorite example of how the MAP Testing Fairy has changed my students’ mindset is the day they made it all interactive. The MAP Testing Fairy had left a note for the class on the board, and my students immediately declared that they wanted to say something to her themselves, so we wrote a note to her as a class. Then they said we should each write her individual notes! One of the notes said on it, “Dear MAP Testing Fairy, I was close to meeting my goal, only two points away! But I am very proud of myself.”


This was when I knew that the culture of MAP Growth testing in my classroom had officially changed. A portion of my students did make their goals, but the other portion didn’t—but they weren’t sad. They were optimistic for the next round. They didn’t view this round of MAP Growth testing as a failure; instead, they took it as a sign that they had grown in their knowledge, and they were proud of themselves for that.


And then they began holding one another accountable, reminding each other that it’s okay to make mistakes in learning, but it’s not okay to give up in learning. Suddenly, we became a team, all working towards growing our knowledge to prove that we are capable and that we can reach our goals—together.


How have other teachers helped with the MAP Testing Fairy? Has the MAP Testing Fairy had an impact on how other teachers approach MAP Growth or student growth in general?


When I started recruiting other teachers to write on the board and disguise the MAP Testing Fairy’s identity, it gave me the chance to share what I was doing. I started talking with other teachers about the impact the MAP Testing Fairy was having, and I think it got my colleagues thinking about their own creative strategies for getting their kids engaged. Other teachers on my 4th grade team have started to introduce the MAP Testing Fairy in their classrooms as well, so I’m really excited to know the idea is spreading.


What advice would you give to other teachers looking to get their students excited about growth?

I would highly encourage teachers to think back to when we had to take big assessments as children. It was hard, sitting quietly for an extensive amount of time, answering all sorts of questions. As a child, I never understood why I had to take such a lengthy test or how important it was. I didn’t understand, so I wouldn’t take my time on the test... I just wanted it over.


That’s what I saw in my students. They didn’t understand why they had to take MAP Growth; they wanted it to be over just like I did when I was their age. My goal in all of this was to make MAP Growth testing meaningful to them in a way that they had never experienced before. I set out to change their minds from wanting it over to wanting to grow.


So, I encourage and challenge my fellow teachers to remember that it’s hard for students to understand why growth assessments are so important, and to find fun ways that speak to them to get them invested in their own progress. The MAP Testing Fairy gives students a chance to celebrate, and for my class, that’s what they needed in order to get invested in their own growth. You know your students best, so find ways to get them motivated that speak to their sense of fun and wonder. It can make all the difference.


Courtney Dickerson can be found on Twitter.

One of my favorite parts of MAP Growth is getting to see how involved some kids get when tracking their own achievements. Whether it's leadership students celebrating growth between terms, individual teachers and students celebrating, or even popcorn parties celebrating student growth, it's amazing to see so many teachers supporting student growth in their schools. 


How do you celebrate growth in your classroom? Share with us some of the ways you keep your kids engaged in their own growth, and how you celebrate their successes together. There are no wrong answers -- sometimes it's the small things that make big differences to kids! 


MAP Spanish offers equitable assessment tools to better understand the next steps in learning for your Spanish-speaking students. Here are answers to the top 10 most frequently asked questions:


1. How much does it cost?

There is no additional charge for MAP Spanish assessments. Starting this fall, Spanish MAP Growth reading and math tests will automatically be included with MAP Growth K-2 and MAP Growth licenses, and MAP Reading Fluency licenses will include Spanish assessment options, as well. You simply select a language preference for the assessments you already have–and that’s it.


2. If a student takes both English and Spanish tests, does that require two licenses?

No. A student can take any tests included with the license for the regular, single license price.


3. What subjects and grades will have Spanish test options?

Spanish assessments will be available for the following subjects and grades starting this fall:

  • MAP Growth Reading K-8
  • MAP Growth Math K-12
  • MAP Reading Fluency K-3


4. What do we need to do to get the Spanish assessments for next fall?

You don’t need to do anything. The Spanish assessments will automatically be included with your MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency assessments for the 2019-20 school year at no additional cost.


5. Which students are the Spanish assessments appropriate for?

The Spanish assessments can be used by native Spanish speakers receiving Spanish-only instruction, native Spanish speakers receiving English-only instruction, native Spanish speakers receiving English and Spanish instruction, and any students learning Spanish as part of a dual language immersion or foreign language program. Note that educators should expect that students receiving English-only instruction will likely show lower growth on the Spanish assessments than students also receiving instruction in Spanish.


6. Are these just translated tests, or how do you build the item pool?

The item pool for the Spanish MAP Growth assessments are made up of both items that are trans-adapted from our English item pool, meaning translated and checked for cultural bias, and newly created, authentic Spanish items. All of the Spanish passages and items for MAP Reading Fluency are newly created, authentic Spanish content.


7. What Spanish dialect are the test items written in?

We used a generic, standard variety of Spanish that is not specific to any one dialect. We avoid words or phrases that are dialect specific.


8. Our district has licenses for the Spanish reading screener in MAP Growth—what’s happening to that assessment come fall?

Because MAP Growth for K-8 and MAP Reading Fluency for K-3 offer comprehensive, adaptive reading assessments in Spanish, the K-8 Spanish Reading Screeners will be retired at the end of the current school year (2018-19) and will no longer be available in the fall.


9. Our district has licenses for Spanish math in MAP Growth—what’s happening to that assessment for fall?

The Spanish MAP Growth math assessments will continue as is and will be available to all MAP Growth partners. You will no longer need any additional licenses for the Spanish math tests; they will simply be included with your MAP Growth license at no additional charge.


10. Can schools get started with the Spanish assessments this school year?

Yes, we are actively looking for additional partners to join our pilot programs this school year. There is no cost to join the pilot, and you can get started right away. If you are interested in joining the Spanish MAP Growth Reading or Spanish MAP Reading Fluency pilots for spring 2019, please contact your account manager today.

Ever wonder how someone gets started with MAP Growth – and then becomes an expert? Check out a recent post over at our Teach. Learn. Grow. blog to get a perspective from a MAP-novice-turned-professional-learning-facilitator.

Former teacher Lindsay Stoelting shares how he became the MAP Coordinator at his international school (hint: pretty much by accident!). He shares what he thinks and what’s he learned about how much schools have in common now that he is a Professional Learning Facilitator for NWEA.


And stay tuned – this is the first in a series where we will be talking to former teachers and asking them to share “what they wish they had known” about implementing MAP Growth back when they were just getting started.

It's winter testing season! For many districts, now is the time to give interim assessments, so students and teachers can check in on progress toward growth goals together. If you're new to winter testing, or you're looking for new insights into how to get the most out of winter testing, you're in luck: here's some of the best advice from the NWEA Teach. Learn. Grow. blog. Browse the topics below for some of our most popular winter-testing-related posts, then add your own insights to the conversation below!


Assessment Strategy


Understanding Reports

We're a little more than half-way through NWEA's podcast series, Leading from the Classroom, which features short interviews with the 2018 Teachers of the Year. 


The entire series is fantastic--every 5-minute episode is different, and each teacher shares their most powerful teaching memories. You can listen and subscribe to Leading from the Classroom here, and in the meantime, here are a few direct links to some of our favorite episodes so far. 



New episodes will be released throughout January--so be sure to subscribe to be certain you can hear them all!

Hello again!


Just wanted to let everyone know that season 3 of the NWEA / CCSSO Podcast, Leading from the Classroom, has started, and the first three episodes are ready to stream!


This year, Leading from the Classroom features the 2018 Teachers of the Year as they share their stories: stories of students who inspired them, stories of the most meaningful moments of their careers, and stories about how each recipient is using the platform to improve education for kids. 


Listen now at, and check back for new episodes every Monday and Wednesday from now through the end of January 2019!

As told by 2018 State Teachers of the Year


In this blog, the third in the series featuring conversations with 2018 State Teachers of the Year, we discussed whether teaching life skills had a place in the classroom. Teachers of the Year were asked to respond to this question:


Do you believe preparing students to be “life ready” is part of your teaching practice or responsibility?
100% of the teachers fervently said, "YES!"


Then we challenged with a second question, to think about what that looked like for today’s students:

Beyond academic subjects, what other skills will students need to be ready for life? And what needs to shift in K-12 to better prepare students for being life ready?

These info-graphics capture their thoughts.


Download info-graphic: Life-Readiness is More Than Academics 


Download info-graphic: Prepare Students for Being Life Ready 


What do you think is fundamentally key for our kids to be life ready in today’s world? And how does the school system, and you, the teacher, fit in to that? We would love to hear from you in the comments section!

Over the years, many teachers have asked questions like, “Which MAP Growth report should I start with?”, or “Which MAP Growth report is the most effective?” or even, “What order should I review reports in?”, and like all good questions, the correct answers to each of these questions is that it depends.


The best place to start with MAP Growth reports will depend on multiple factors, ranging from the time of the school year to the unique characteristics of the students themselves. So from this perspective, the question to start with is less about which report to review first, and more about what questions you’re using the data to answer. To help you navigate the different MAP Growth reports we’ve put together a list of five steps to discovering and using MAP Growth reports effectively.


  1. Verify that your account works and your students are rostered accurately. While this may sound like a basic first step, it’s one that’s crucial to get right—before you start looking for the right report, you need to be certain your account has access to the right data. Start by logging in with your credentials and making sure you see all of the students you expect to. (If you need a refresher on how to login, there’s a good one here.) If anything doesn’t look right to you, or if you need help getting access, contact your local MAP Growth Administrator.

  2. Determine which reports are most useful based on the time of year. Finding the “right” MAP Growth report will have a lot to do with the time of the school year. For example, many teachers use MAP Growth assessments in September to help each student set individual growth goals, and in those cases, the Student Goal Setting Worksheet is a great place to start. Conversely, after spring assessments, many teachers use the Class Breakdown by Projected Proficiency to see how their students have progressed as readers. For more information about how and when to use different MAP Growth reports, consult How NOT to get Overwhelmed by Data: Teacher Reports to use Throughout the Year, a year-round guide to MAP Growth reports from the 2016 Virginia State Teacher of the Year Natalie DiFusco-Funk.

  3. Get to know the 10 most popular MAP Growth teacher reports. Once you’ve spent some time determining which reports are most appropriate for your goals and the time of year, then consult our list of the Top 10 MAP Growth Reports for teachers. Where step two was about using data to answer your existing questions, this step is about exploring the other ways MAP Growth reports can help inform and augment your teaching in the classroom.

  4. Consult the NWEA Reports Finder to locate additional reports that may be helpful. Once you’re comfortable with the reports you’ve found so far, move on to the MAP Growth Reports Finder to review the complete list of MAP Growth reports—it even indicates whether a report shows data at the classroom level, the school level, or the district level. (Keep in mind that the reports you can see with your MAP Growth login are defined by your role and your students.)

    Bonus pro tip about the MAP Growth Reports Finder: if you copy and paste the table into Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, you can sort and filter the reports, which can be helpful for seeing similar ones grouped together.

  5. Share your best practices with other teachers. Part of your MAP Growth reports journey will be finding the reports that are most relevant for your students and the specific needs of your school, so it’s important to share your insights with your colleagues to help them get as much out of MAP Growth as you do. Whether you’ve found a particularly relevant report, or you want to start a discussion with other educators about how you might apply specific report data, it’s important to have those conversations—building a data-driven culture requires collaboration!

No matter where you are in the school year, you can use this five-step process as a divining rod to ensure you’re getting the most relevant, practical data from all of the available reports. Try it with your next set of MAP Growth reports—and if you ever want to discuss your data with an NWEA expert, you can schedule a Professional Learning workshop.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: I’m filling out my son’s next Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) that’s due when he turns three, and I’m freaking out, convinced that the responses I add today will tragically cripple the rest of his academic life and chances at future success. Naturally, I’m picturing his high school graduation speech, where he’ll go into great detail about all of the ways my parenting choices held him back, and he’ll pontificate on his own achievements, proud that he overcame all the setbacks my decisions created for him.


So I call the pediatrician’s office and ask about how to best help him prepare for the ASQ; after all, I want him to do well on it. And I can sense some hesitation from the nurse as she calmly explains to me that the ASQ isn’t something you prepare for, and that the purpose of a good growth measure is to help kids get the help they need, and not to help them pass, so it needs to be an accurate reflection of their abilities. She goes on to say that we’ll continue to use the ASQ as a growth measure to compare results, and eventually he’ll transition to a growth measure for older kids.


“Ideally,” she goes on, “You could use one measurement for all of his years in school, so you’d always be able to support specific needs over time, but we’re not quite there yet.”


I can’t help but smile, because I’ve been connected to NWEA and MAP Growth in various ways since 2005—and during my time working with partner school districts, I had similar conversations, trying to help others see that you can’t really study for a MAP Growth assessment. I laugh because when she wistfully said, ‘We’re not quite there yet,’ I wanted to correct her—”MAP Growth has an equal-interval scale, and there are assessments from K-12!” I wanted to tell her—but more to the point, I’m relieved.


Relieved, because up until that moment, I hadn’t really realized how grateful I am for MAP Growth and the educators who use it. Grateful for the people who live in the world of standardized milestones like 3rd-grade reading proficiency, and remain dedicated to not just teaching kids the same things year after year, but helping each of them where they need it. “Whatever happens,” I remind myself, “We’ll make sure to get him connected to MAP Growth, so I can help him with whatever he needs, regardless of grade level. Doesn’t matter if he struggles, or he’s a genius; the approach will be the same.”


I take a deep breath, and start answering the questions again. Is he able to put a shirt on by himself? Are you kidding me? He insists on doing it himself, and gets upset if we try to help him. Is he able to use safety scissors to cut construction paper? No, because we’re not monsters who give toddlers scissors to play with. Can he point to a picture of himself and say his own name? He’s a millennial; of course his selfie game is on point. Can he kick a ball? I wouldn’t know, because in our family, we realize that most sports are silly. Can he string beads? We’ve seen videos from daycare, so we know he can do it—but if either of us asks him to, he pretends like he’s never seen a bead before in his life.


I filled out the bubbles honestly.


That’s a big deal for me, because I’m no longer worried about what will happen as a result of my answers. He’s a kid, so that means he’s going to be ahead in some areas, behind in others, and my wife and I are going to help him grow at the pace he’s going to grow—because the timetable was never up to us in the first place.


That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to sweat the milestones, though. We’ll track all of the benchmarks, from 3rd-grade reading proficiency through the ACT or SAT (or whatever test kids are taking on SnapChat to get into college in the future). Standardized measures and benchmarks have their place, and they can be truly useful—and at the same time, the mindset has changed for both my wife and I. We’ll use the standardized measurements as signposts—but not finish lines.


Our mindset is now just to focus on helping him achieve his goals, whatever they may be. In the meantime, we’re just going to thank our stars that we live in an era where we can do that. And we’re going to thank our stars for the teachers who will use all the data they get—and I know, it’s a lot—to help our son grow.

We've worked with partner school districts from across the country with strong Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiativesand some are even using MAP Growth Science to track growth across their programs. 


Whether you're using MAP Growth Science or MAP Growth Science for use with Next  Generation Science Standards, we want to hear about it!


What student population are you working with, and what have been the most powerful gains they've made?


How have MAP Growth Science reports helped inform your approach to your STEM? 

Nothing is more fundamental than reading—and when it comes to early learners, helping them learn to read is especially critical to their long-term academic success. Research in the field of early literacy is still evolving, but it’s consistently clear about one thing: in order to thrive and become strong readers, early learners need a support system that includes multiple sources. In other words, no single approach is good enough on its own, and the most effective young readers work toward their goals both at school and at home.


MAP Reading Fluency is designed to be one of the key data points that teachers use to help their early learners thrive; it’s built as a tool to support instructional decisions without eating up classroom time. With an objective, research-driven tool like MAP Reading Fluency, you can lead powerful conversations during parent-teacher conferences as you work together to build each child’s support system. Here’s how.


1. Administer MAP Reading Fluency to your early learners.

Everything starts with using a MAP Reading Fluency assessment; your student results will be one of the key data points you’ll provide to parents, and both the student’s responses and their audio recordings will help inform the choices you make for each individual child.


While giving a computer assessment to your youngest learners may sound daunting, we’ve built MAP Reading Fluency to be as streamlined as possible—so you can focus on maximizing classroom time. With MAP Reading Fluency, you can test the entire class at once, and get objective results with actionable data in about 20 minutes. The entire process is simple enough that you can periodically assess the students to track their progress. We generally recommend having students take MAP Reading Fluency assessments once at the beginning of the school-year, once before mid-year break, and once at the end of the school-year.


2. Share the audio review page and the Student Progress Report.

There are two main MAP Reading Fluency resources to rely on for parent-teacher conferences: the audio review page and the Student Progress Report. The audio review page has the actual audio recordings of each individual student’s responses, and the Student Progress Report breaks down how the student performed in individual areas like word recognition, listening comprehension, and even sentence reading fluency.


The Student Progress Report is ideal for leading a discussion around trends in the data—the student’s overall strength and challenges—and the audio recordings can be used as examples to support those trends. For example, if a child is struggling with initial sounds, you can show parents the score, alongside actual examples of the student’s responses that lead to the data.


3. Present assessment data alongside other data points.

While MAP Reading Fluency results are reliable and useful, they shouldn’t be used alone as the sole source of information about each student’s abilities. Instead, they should function as one star in a constellation of data points about each student.


Be sure to bring information to parent-teacher conferences that includes additional insights about their child—many teachers go so far as to create “conferring notes binders,” which help them catalog data points about each student like classroom observations, grades, or unique strengths and challenges.


4. Have a strengths-based conversation and discuss next steps with parents based on the data.

With all of your data in hand, including both MAP Reading Fluency results and your own insights and observations, it’s important to develop a narrative that identifies what each student knows currently and what they’re ready to learn next.

This is often referred to as a “strengths-based conversation,” because you’re framing the information in a way that both highlights and celebrates the student’s current achievements while also being clear about what challenges they’re ready to face. Ultimately, your work in this step will be to share your analysis of the student’s performance and potential in a way that is supported by data and easily understood.


During this step, it’s important to collaborate, and get parental input on the student’s narrative—they may be able to share their own experiences which can further inform your perspective.


5. Provide resources to help parents get involved with student goals at home.

The most effective parent-teacher conferences are the ones where parents and teachers develop partnerships to create a consistent support system for the student. As you’re preparing for conferences, consider adding supplemental materials to help them work with their child on the goals they’ve set at school. For example, many teachers include flash cards, reading lists, or specific tablet apps that target each student’s specific needs.


As you’re working together, make sure you’re making connections between what the data reflects and the strategies you’re recommending. For example, if a student is struggling in the area of Blending & Segmenting, you could share a word list with parents that includes specific vocabulary, and help them understand how using the word list can help their child improve in the specific area of Blending & Segmenting.


6. Set a follow-up date to check in on each student’s progress.

Because parent-teacher conferences are periodic, it can sometimes be a challenge to stay in sync as a team with parents. But if you’re planning on coordinating with them to make sure they’re working with their kids toward the same goals they set in the classroom, regular check-ins are essential.


Once you’ve reviewed all of the results together and agreed upon a strategy for helping the student improve, set a date where you’ll speak again and discuss any new developments or needed changes. At a minimum, that should be at the mid-year point of the school-year, but it’s also important to give the student enough time to make changes. Many parents opt to check in over email or through a phone call—check-ins don’t have to be formal, so long as you’re discussing what’s working, what can be done differently, and any new developments in the student’s life.



No matter what literacy challenges an early learner faces, supporting them effectively means making sure they have the opportunities to growth both in the classroom and at home. By using these steps, you’re creating a support system that’s backed by objective research—and also takes into account insights from parents and the classroom.


Special thanks to Amy Schmidt for her contributions to this  blog post.

In this post, we’re celebrating five Hispanic men who have changed history. If you’re looking for a fun way to engage students with Hispanic Heritage Month, consider exploring each of our honorees’ stories together. As a class, discuss how their achievements have changed our lives, and for each historical figure, have students consider questions like:

  • What do you admire most about each individual?
  • What challenges do you think she had to face in her career?
  • What issues or topics was each person most passionate about?


You can even add more names to the list if you want the exercise to last longer. Just don’t forget to come back and tell us how it went! Be sure to share your successes, challenges, and best practices.


Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera is an artist best known for his poetry—in fact, in 2015, he was named U.S. Poet Laureate. Herrera is often compared to the Beat Poets, due to his energetic, fluid style and his ability to cross artistic mediums: as a writer, poet, performance artist, and playwright, he’s given voice to the Hispanic community through his words. Most recently, Mr. Herrera has written a series of poems, each in response to a specific shooting or terrorist attack in the United States.


Octaviano Larrazolo

Octaviano Larrazolo became the first Mexican-American United States Senator in 1928. After starting a career as a teacher, he later became a principal, where he fought for civil rights and equality for Spanish-speaking students in education. He followed that passion for his entire career, eventually getting involved with politics: prior to becoming a Senator, he served as the Governor of New Mexico from 1919-1921. Throughout his career, he successfully advocated for Latinx rights on matters ranging from getting the New Mexico state government to recognize the Spanish language in public business to supporting the constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage.


Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Latino composer and playwright famous for creating the Broadway musical Hamilton, and co-writing the songs featured in the Disney movie Moana. A native New Yorker born to Puerto Rican parents, Miranda has delighted audiences with compelling social messages and music that takes influence from a wide range of influences including hip-hop, Latin music, and musical theater. Most recently, he has been an active supporter of restoring Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.


Mario Molina

Mario Molina is a Mexican chemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his central role in identifying the ozone hole in the Antarctic, as well as humanity’s role in the threat of global warming. His contribution was so significant in shaping the conversation around climate change that he’s received countless other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. He currently works with teams around the world to investigate air quality issues, working to take our understanding of the environment even further.


Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Marquez was an author and journalist, best known for his books Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) and El Amor en Los Tiempos del Cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera). His books helped create the genre of books known as “magical realism,” where traditional stories are infused with elements of fantasy and magic. His work was so influential that in 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Related blog postCelebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: 5 Latina Women Who Inspire Us