Part 1b: Zoot Suit: The Production and From Mexico to the United States


Activities and strategies to guide learners collaboratively through the text.

Directed Reading with Number Heads

Zoot Suit Main Characters

1. Who are the main characters of Zoot Suit? Describe their role in the play and importance to the murder trial.

Luis Valdez, The Playwright

2. What are some of the important accomplishments and achievements of Luis Valdez? Explain why are these significant.

Teatro – Political Theatre Chicano Style

3. Define “teatro.”
4. What are some of the distinctive characteristics of teatro? Why are these important?
5. What are the elements that classify Zoot Suit as a prime example of Teatro Chicano?

From Mexico to the United States

6. Why was there a mass migration to the United States between 1910 and 1914?
7. What fueled the second mass migration to the United States?
8. Why wasn’t adequate housing an option for Mexican residents? Explain.
9. What difficulties did Mexican American youth confront? Explain.
10. What do you learn about the Bracero Program and Chávez Ravine?
11. How would you define acculturate and assimilate? Give examples of each.
12. How and why did gangs emerge on the streets?

(Teachers: At this point, students should be directed to revisit the Anticipatory Guide to compare and contrast their responses with the responses given after having completed these sections.)


Activities and strategies to extend the learner’s understanding beyond the text.

Reflection Log

First Entry Teatro: Political Theatre Chicano Style

“The Acto”: Complete the following exercises in groups of 4-5 students.

  1. Imagine you are a playwright, what current or past events would inspire you to write an acto (short scene) addressing social injustice?
  2. It can be current or past events like the:
      a. April 29, 1992 City of Los Angeles “Rodney King” Riots 

      b. May 1, 2006 The Great American Boycott addressing Immigration Rights

      c. January 1, 2009 New Year’s Day shooting death of Oscar Grant by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Officer

  3. Investigate the event and with your group write an acto with at least two characters and a narrator.
  4. Self-edit, peer edit and lastly have the teacher edit your draft.
  5. Chose actors for your scene and perform it for the class.
  6. Discuss the performance.

Second Entry Immigration Waves

“My Family”: Complete the following exercise on your own.

  1. Trace the migration of your family to the United States in a pictorial essay. Choose the journey of one family member or an entire family. Include the following:
      a. Description of place of origin 

      b. Reasons for leaving the country

      c. Reasons for migrating to the United States

      d. The migration journey

      e. Difficulties confronted

      f. Support received

      g. Final destination

  2. Self-edit, peer edit and lastly have the teacher edit your draft.
  3. Reading from your Reflection Log share your story with the class.


Janet Johns, Abriendo Caminos
Migrant Education, Region XI
Curriculum for the Zoot Suit Discovery Guide, 2009