2. INITIAL OBSERVATIONS
¡ My artifact of choice for this assignment is a decorative
serving plate that was hand painted from Varadaro, Cuba. In
the middle of the plate there is a fish that has a variety of
patterns and colours. The bottom of the plate has “Cuba
Varadaro” written, as well as a distinctive patterned border
around the plate. When I initially saw this plate, It was hung
on a wall in a street vendor in Varadaro. I thought It could
serve two purposes in my perspective: a serving plate for
snacks, or it could be hung on a wall. The details of the plate
are very meticulous and interesting to observe and could be
interpreted in a variety of ways.
3. FORMULATING QUESTIONS
¡ Where specifically was this plate made?
¡ Who made it?
¡ What do the designs on the plate represent? Are they
representative of the culture in Cuba?
¡ What material was the plate made from?
¡ Why were these certain colours chosen to create the designs?
¡ What kind of paint was used to create the painting?
¡ Why is there a fish as the focal point of the plate?
¡ What significance does the fish have in Cuban culture?
¡ Is decorative plates a prominent job market for Cubans?
¡ What does the sun represent in the fish painting?
¡ What other cultures have these types of decorative plates?
¡ What other purposes can the plate be used for?
¡ Why are decorative plates like this sold in Cuba?
¡ How did the Spanish- American war impact the Cuban
¡ Connections to the Social Studies Curriculum:
¡ This framing questions draws upon the cause and
consequence social studies concept because it investigates
the impact of global political and economic issues in a third
¡ Are there economic ties between Canada and Cuba today?
¡ What was the Cuban economy like before and after the
Spanish- American war?
¡ How is the government in Cuba different from Canada?
¡ What kinds of resources does Cuba produce?
¡ What does Cuba export/import, and how significant is that for
the Cuban economy?
¡ How is the quality of life in Cuba? How does that differ from
that of Canada?
4. GATHERING & ORGANIZING
INFORMATION, EVIDENCE AND DATA
¡ Cuba is a socialist state run by the Cuban Communist Party
¡ U.S. embargo began on October 19, 1960
¡ The embargo has been criticized for its effects on food, clean
water, medicine, and other economic needs of the Cuban
¡ The Spanish- American war was a conflict in 1898 between
Spain and the United States which was the result of the
American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence
¡ Fidel Castro was president, prime minister, and commander of
the armed forces until February 2008, when he stepped down
due to illness.
¡ The Cuban economy is dominated by state-run enterprises
overseen by the Cuban government.
GATHERING INFO CON’T
¡ Currently, tourism has become one of Cuba’s main important
assets to their economy. The United States embargo prevents
American visitors from entering Cuba, however, a major
portion of tourists that visit Cuba are Canadian citizens.
¡ Nickel producing has also become a major resource for the
¡ In 1994, a joint venture was formed between the Cuban Nickel
Union and the Canadian firm Sherritt International, which
operates a mining and processing plant on the island in Moa,
¡ There are in total 85 Canadian companies operating in Cuba,
including brewer Labatts and Pizza Nova.
GATHERING INFO CON’T
¡ The main source of the Cuban economy is agriculture. The
country is a major producer of several crops but sugar and
tobacco are essential for sustaining their economy. Despite
not being able to export their products to the United States,
Cuba has become a major exporter of agricultural products.
¡ A substantial amount of Cuban products are produced locally
using the resources that Cuba obtains. The state heavily
regulates importing and exporting of products, and therefore
Cuba must rely on local resources in order to sell their goods.
¡ 1. The Royal Ontario Museum: The ROM’s institute for
Contemporary Culture has an exhibition of the works of the
leading contemporary Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa. Using
different kinds of objects and materials, Garaicoa shows us
through his art how he sees the difference between what the
revolution promised and what conditions are like in Cuba
today. This exhibition looks at the architecture, cities, politics,
history and people of Cuban society.
PRIMARY RESOURCES CON’T
¡ 2. Examining Cuban artifacts that represent Cuba’s history
and culture before and after the war. Using these artifacts as
part of the learning process about cultures can be optimal
because it allows students to see and observe, as well as
make their own predictions and connections to Cuban history
and present day economy.
¡ 1 . Histor y and informational videos about Cuba. Through videos,
students can visually obser ve and gain information about how
the economy in Cuba was built, and how the revolution has
changed/impacted Cuba’s social, political, and economic
¡ Examples of educational videos:
¡ 2. Websites: students can visit educational websites to gain
information about Cuba.
¡ Examples of websites:
¡ Primar y Sources:
¡ I have had the chance to visit Varadaro, Cuba (a popular tourist
destination), and Havana (the capital city of Cuba). Through
seeing a tourist destination in comparison with a city that locals
reside in, I obser ved first hand how the Cuban people live on a
social and economical level. The buildings in Havana were mostly
historical buildings still standing today. The stores were almost
all selling the same or ver y similar products across the city (a
result of a state-controlled economy).
¡ I have also had the opportunity to speak with and informally
inter view local Cubans to ask them about their standing
economic status from an insider perspective. Most individuals
mentioned that Cuba relies heavily on tourism to sustain it’s
economy. Furthermore, that the wages are extremely low in Cuba
and that Cuban citizens all share relatively similar social
economic status’s across the countr y.
¡ These are some pictures that I have taken in Havana, Cuba.
This can provide a glimpse into looking at a comparison in the
Canadian and Cuban economy and the implications of a state
run by a communist party.
¡ Websites I have gathered information from:
5. INTERPRETING AND ANALYZING
INFORMATION, EVIDENCE AND/OR DATA
¡ A) 2 Additional Connections to Social Studies Thinking concepts:
¡ 1) Interrelationships; Perspective: This connects with addressing
the global issues, specifically focusing on third world countries
such as Cuba and how Canada is involved internationally in their
actions. The trade and tourism connections that Cuba has with
Canada has a significant positive impact on the Cuban economy
(The Ontario Social Studies Curriculum, Grade 6 – page 118)
¡ 2) Patterns and Trends: This concept can connect with examining
the data of the Cuban economy before and after the revolution,
as well as the statistical significance of Canadian-Cuban trade,
as well as Canadian-Cuban tourism for the Cuban economy and
its implications . (The Ontario Social Studies Curriculum, Grade 6
– page 118)
¡ How the decorative plate connects with citizenship
¡ Responsibility: the individual who created this hand-made
decorative plate had the role and responsibility to create a
product to represent Cuba in an artistic way. When I view this
piece of art, I automatically associate it with Cuban culture
and what it portrays. Therefore, the creator of this piece of art
has a underpinning of responsibility to mirror Cuban culture in
through art. The plate says “Varadero Cuba” written in bold
printing on it, therefore it becomes an automatic association
of Cuban culture that is made.
¡ Relationships of power: The division of labour becomes of
focus. The people who created this piece of art could become
linked to a closer analysis of the economical hierarchal
structure in Cuba.
LINKS TO SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM
¡ B) Social Studies topics that relate to my item:
¡ 1) Grade 6 – People and Environments: Canada’s Interactions
with the Global Community.
Specifically: The specific expectation of B2.1: formulate
questions to guide investigations into global issues of political,
social, economic, and/or environmental importance
(Social Studies Curriculum, Grade 6 – page 125)
This topic ties into learning about the Cuban economy and
global issues of war and its impact. Students can investigate
about how the economy in Cuba differs from that of Canada’s
LINKS TO SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM
¡ 2) Grade 6 - People and Environments: The Role of
Government and Responsible Citizenship
¡ Specific expectations:
B1.1 assess the effectiveness of actions taken by one or more
levels of government to address an issue of national, provincial/
territorial, and/or local significance
Students can examine what levels of government deal with
trades of goods; imports/exports in both Canada and Cuba.
Students can provide their perspective on the effectiveness of
the government’s involvement in a variety of issues that connect
to their local community.
LINKS TO OTHER SUBJECTS
¡ Art – Students can recreate artistic work from different
cultures, as well as Canadian culture and compare and
contrast the two. This also gives students hands-on learning
and allows them to cultivate their learning of different
cultures through personal artistic creations.
¡ Examining the art work of the Cuban culture and how it is
represented through their art
¡ Mathematics – Gathering and analayzing statistical data
about economical structures of the third world countries.
¡ English - researching about different cultures and writing a
reflection on perspective and making connections – higher
level thinking concepts.
LINKS TO CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
¡ C) Children’s Literature related to the decorative plate:
¡ 1) “It’s Okay to Be Different” by Todd Parr
¡ This book sends the message of the importance of respecting
others even though if they are different. This connects with my
item because it taps into a different culture than Canada, and
how it should be viewed objectively and we should be
accepting towards others even if they come from different
LINKS TO CHILDREN'S LITERATURE CON’T
¡ 2) “The Surrender Tree” by Margarita Engle
¡ This book highlights Cuba’s war of independence and the
trials and tribulations of the battles. This book also provides a
closer look into the social, economical and political instability
of its aftermath.
6. EVALUATING INFORMATION, EVIDENCE,
AND/OR DATA AND DRAWING
¡ Through examining the research about the Cuban economy
after the Spanish- American war, it can be concluded that
Cuba’s economy differs substantially from that of Canada’s.
Their reliance for sustainability on tourism and natural
resources sets Cuba apart. Their enterprises are mostly staterun and the government has a high level of control for the
economy. As a result, this has affected the lives of many with
poverty rates increasing, high rates of unemployment and
underemployment. The effects on the war are still existent
today as Cuba is considered a third world country and citizens
still struggle to sustain a high standard of living.
¡ The Ontario curriculum: social studies, grades 1 to 6, histor y
and geography, grades 7 and 8.. Rev. ed. Toronto: Ontario,
Ministry of Education, 2004. Print.