Spanish Music Database UPDATED


It has taken me the better part of this afternoon to accomplish….here it is, updated again with a total of 1292 songs!!  100 more songs since just January!  Spanish Music Database 2 OFFICIAL-1

In the form of an EXCEL spreadsheet, it is sortable by artist, title, grammar, vocabulary, culture, and country.  It also contains all of the youtube links.  When I started this database more than 4 years ago, I never dreamed that it would become so large.  I definitely need to put it in a new format.  Suggestions?

I welcome your suggestions for additional music, too!!!  Thanks!

Unexpected additions to the Immigration unit

My Spanish IV students have been working in the Immigration unit for the past four weeks.  As I wrote in that earlier post, the basic framework of the unit is based on the great work of Kara Jacobs and Pilar Munday, with additional songs, readings and materials from me. It is taking a bit longer than I expected due to four snow days that have really interrupted the flow of the lessons, and also a few twists in the unit that I didn’t expect.  We spent quite a bit of time with the movie Which Way Home, much discussion, a wonderful Free Write, and a great search to see where the featured children from the movie are today (we found most of them!). We also spent some time talking about the American Dream:  what it means to Americans, to them as students, what it means to different nationalities, how it has changed, etc.  They wrote definitions of the American Dream, illustrating them and posting them in the classroom, and then modified them after watching these videos:

We talked quite a bit about the Statue of Liberty and what it represents. Because they really didn’t know much about the Statue of Liberty, and I felt that the symbolism was important to the overall unit, I used a modified reading Inmigracion Estatua de Libertad.  I discovered that we really had to work through the Emma Lazarus poem as the English language was difficult for them!  We watched this video and we also practiced reading the poem dramatically, which I believed really helped them to understand the significance of the Statue of Liberty.

We’ve explored Green Cards, Visas, the Dream Act, and related topics as I expected to do. We have used a lot of music, which brings me to the next unexpected addition.  One of the songs that we were scheduled to study indepth is Bandera by Aterciopelados.  We began by talking about what flags represent in general.  Since there are 10 flags hanging around my room, we had a lot with which to work. flags Again I was surprised about how little they knew about their own U.S. flag. Since they had done some preliminary work with a partner about the symbol on the Mexican flag as well as the Virgen de Guadalupe, I almost felt like they knew more about that flag! We watched the video several times, over the span of 4 days, working with different aspects of it.  We talked about what they saw in the video, what they heard in the video, and how they felt.  They completed a cloze activity as well as activities with specific lyrics, translating, ordering, etc. They read about the band and why they made the video Aterciopelados reading.  And of course we sang it! Next, I used information from The World Factbook to give them more background material on the symbolism of individual flags. After reading about the flags of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and the United States, they had small group discussions about what flags have in common, what information is available about a country based on its’ flag, and when flags may change and why.  I then asked them to create their own flags (keeping in mind the lyrics to Bandera) with the condition that the flag could not represent one country and they had to write a description of the significance of  the colors and symbols of the flag created.  I gave them 20 minutes.  To me, the results were quite impressive. Here are some examples of that work, unedited….so the descriptions are as they wrote and printed them.

flags 1flags8

flags 2flags 3flags 4flags 5flags 7We have moved on, completing a few days with ICE by La Santa Cecilia, among several other songs.  We have watched 30 Days, done another Free Write, and have had two oral evaluations.  I believe that my students have remained engaged most of the time.  This coming week I plan to work with Pa’l Norte by Calle 13 and Pobre Juan by Mana as well as have them create infographics about the Dream Act/the Dreamers.  I anticipate being in this unit 7 – 8 more days.  Here is the unit plan, and here is the daily plan.





Argentina! culture, geography, reading, speaking and listening!

My Spanish III students have been in the “travel” chapter. For the past 4 years, I’ve had my students “travel” to Argentina, and I have had them work quite a bit with maps and geography (two of the many links I use).  One of the activities that I do is to have them compare Buenos Aires and Washington, D.C.  Of course, initially, they don’t know what they are doing!

The first thing I do is divide them into groups (no more than 4 students per group) and give each group a packet of laminated, full color pictures (all pictures are located on the powerpoint below, just separated).  Those pictures include geographical markers, sports, food, government buildings, etc. I ask the students to categorize the pictures into no more than 6 groups, and to write the names of the categories they chose. Buenos Aires DC categorization student group sheet  The back of this paper will be used for the similarity/difference activity the next day.

I then asked them if they could guess the places/cities in the pictures.  Of course, they came up with D.C. immediately, and because we had begun our preliminary introduction (Qué sabes de opening activity 2014) to Argentina, they guessed Buenos Aires.  The next step was to divide the pictures into two groups: Buenos Aires/D.C.: quickly and easily done. We  used this powerpoint Buenos Aires Washington, D.C. 2014 revised and started to talk about the similarities and differences between the two places. We continued this work the next day, but did not finish the powerpoint.  Instead, I gave them the packet of pictures again and this time, also gave them captions Facts for Buenos Aires Washington D.C..  I asked them to match the captions with the pictures.  Two members of the group were responsible for D.C. and two were responsible for Buenos Aires.  They had to share information with each other when they finished, and I then also had them choose one picture/caption from D.C., and one from Buenos Aires that they were responsible for “teaching” to each other. They practiced reading captions to each other, choosing the appropriate pictures, etc. We then finished the powerpoint, and each group completed the paper Buenos Aires DC categorization student group sheet with their similarities/differences. It always amazes me how much the students DON’T know about their own capital!

The next day, in groups of two, I gave each student 9 words.  Their task was to describe the nine words to their partner, without using the actual word, so that their partner would say that word(s). Each one had nine different words. Argentina questions Since we had been doing some map work, and we had watched several short clips about Argentina, I had them work with that partner to color code this map. La Argentina primer trabajo del mapa  mapa

Borrowing an activity from one of my colleagues, I had my students work with another partner to complete a reading/listening and map activity. Each partner got a description of an imaginary trip that he/she had taken.  They read it silently, then they read it to their partner.  I had them read aloud several times, using various “voices”. The next day, they each got a map, and the partner read the description of his/her trip one more time to his/her partner.  This time, the partner was drawing everything that was said on the map.  Once they finished, they had to write 5 sentences, using ONLY the map that they had drawn on, to describe the trip of their partner.  While this activity was going on, I was conducting individual one minute speaking assessments with each student in the class. Partner description of trip to Argentina with drawing activity  5 sentence about partner’s trip

A final speaking/pronunciation assessment came from a Google Voice assignment that I gave them 2 nights to complete.  We practiced reading a paragraph about a trip to Argentina several times.  They all read, and I timed them.  Finally, they called my Google Voice number and recorded it.  Google voice paragraph read Hice un viaje a Buenos Aires

A final activity with maps that was 100% engaging (again borrowed from a colleague): I gave a group of two students a blank map of South America in a sheet protector; the map had NO political divisions.  Each student had a different colored dry erase marker and eraser.  Their task was to draw all 13 countries and capitals, the equator, the Andes mountains, and label the oceans.  I had to see approximately equal colors on their finished work to indicate that both partners had shared equally in the work.  I was amazed at how intently they worked on this activity!

New Unit: Immigration

Statue of LibertyThanks to the addition of another unexpected day at home (snow day #6), I’ve been able to devote quite a bit of time to the next unit that Spanish IV is going to explore:  Immigration in the United States.  Before I go any further, I must say that I am indebted to the great, original work of Kara Jacobs @(karacjacobs) and the additions of Pilar Munday (@mundaysa) and @cristinaZimmer4. Next, I would like to say that while this is a unit that I will be using with my Spanish IV students, I think that there is material here that can be used with all levels of proficiency, including novice.  I’ve created a database for 29 songs that deal with immigration17 videos that deal with immigration and 35 links on the web for authentic resources both in Spanish and in English.  This is my Pinterest board, where I have been collecting resources for the past several months. Here is the link to the daily lesson plans from my wikispace, El Mundo de Birch which are in development and will be added to on a daily basis for the next month that I am in this unit. As of this writing, there are three full days of lesson plans, with the outline for the next six days.


1     Define la diferencia entre “emgirar” y “inmigrar”. ¿Qué es el Sueño Americano? ¿Ha cambiado el Sueño Americano? Explica tu respuesta.

2     ¿Por qué emigran ilegalmente muchas personas a los Estados Unidos? ¿De dónde es la mayoría de los inmigrantes indocumentados? ¿Cómo llegan algunos? ¿Por qué vienen ilegalmente y no legalmente? ¿Cuál es el proceso de entrar legalmente en los EEUU?

3     ¿Qué pasa ahora con la reforma migratoria en los EEUU? ¿Qué es el DREAM Act?

4     ¿Quiénes son algunos cantantes que cantan sobre la inmigración? ¿Cuáles son sus perspectivas? ¿Cómo son diferentes y/o similares las canciones y los videos? ¿Qué opinas tú de las canciones?

5     En tu opinión, ¿hay una solución al problema? ¿En qué consiste?


  1. Evaluación Oral, basada en Pregunta Esencial #2 (el 17/18 marzo) 25 puntos
  2. Free Writes
    1.  Which Way Home (10/11 marzo) 20 puntos
    2. 30 Days Inmigración (13/14 marzo) 20 puntos
  3. Compara y contrasta dos o tres de las canciones en cuanto a sus perspectivas de la inmigración illegal. (I.C.E./Bandera/Pa’l Norte/Pobre Juan) En tu opinión, ¿qué es el mensaje de la canción ? ¿Estás de acuerdo con el mensaje? ¿Por qué sí o no? Apoya (support) tu respuesta conlíneas de la canción. (25 marzo) 30 puntos
  4. Evaluación Oral, basada en Pregunta Esencial #3 después de leer el artículo de CNN       Google Voice response (20 marzo) 20 puntos
  5. Interpretación dramática de una de las canciones ( I.C.E. por La Santa Cecilia, Bandera por Aterciopelados, Pobre Juan por Maná, Pa’l Norte por Calle 13)
  • a. grupos de 3-4 personas
  • b. escriben una “obra” (play) sobre la canción
  • c. presentan la “obra” en clase (sin apuntes)
  • d. 31 marzo, 1 abril,  guión (script) 20 puntos, presentación oral 25 puntos

The initial target vocabulary for this unit: (Quizlet)

  • 1. cárcel
  • 2. castigo
  • 3. ciudadanía
  • 4. ciudadano
  • 5. cruzar
  • 6. discriminar
  • 7. dispuesto a trabajar
  • 8. echar de menos
  • 9. el derecho
  • 10. en busca de
  • 11. extranjero
  • 12. frontera
  • 13. igualdad
  • 14. leyes
  • 15. mudarse
  • 16. país natal
  • 17. población
  • 18. preocuparse por
  • 19. prosperidad
  • 20. seguir las leyes
  • 21. ser testigo (de)
  • 22. tratar (de)

Metas y Sueños, some final thoughts

Like all things in the teaching world (and in life, in general), things don’t always go as you have planned…even when you have spent a long time planning!  This new unit that I began creating in the “snow days” of January has been much of what I planned, but has certainly evolved into things that I simply could not anticipate.  What began like this:

Preguntas Esenciales

1. ¿Qué es tu rutina diaria? ¿Cómo te escapas la rutina?

2. ¿Cuáles son tus metas, tus sueños? ¿A qué quieres dedicarte? ¿Cómo han cambiado tus metas /sueños desde tu niñez? ¿Cómo vas a lograr tus sueños? ¿Cómo te enfrentas a los retos, los obstáculos?

3. ¿Quién es una persona que ha superado mucho? ¿Cuáles son las características y/o las acciones de la persona que ha superado mucho? ¿Quién es una persona que admiras? ¿Porqué?

4. ¿Cómo presentan los sueños y las metas las canciones populares?

5. ¿Cuál fue la banda sonora de tu infancia? ¿Cuál fue la banda sonora de sus años de escuela secundaria? ¿Qué crees que va a ser la banda sonora de tu futuro?

changed to eliminate question #5, added significantly to #3 and included several days on the goals and dreams of the people of Venezuela.  With the elimination of essential question #5, I also had to eliminate a final evaluation (the sound track of their lives, and a review of preterite/imperfect). But, with the addition of the Venezuela component, I believe that the unit became even more authentic.  To question #3, about people who have overcome obstacles to achieve goals and dreams, I had planned on using Martin Luther King, Jr.,Kseniya Simonova, and Charlotte and Jonathon from Britain’s Got Talent.  The section on Charlotte and Jonathon I got from tweets from Axel (from Argentina), as I looked for more information to include in the study of his song “Celebra la vida“.  Metas celebra tu vida We spent quite a bit of time with the song, with various activities, including drawing the lyrics and acting the lyrics.  Our discussion of the tweets and then the follow up with the Charlotte and Jonathon story, including updates through December 2013, was certainly very worthwhile.  I decided, after the reaction of my students, to add another person to our study of overcoming obstacles: Malala Yousafzai Metas Malala  and with the BBC video, Metas Malala BBC Mundo video.  I was amazed that so few of my students knew who she is.  We spent several days with the reading taken from BBC, talking in small groups, working with the Spanish captions in the video, and talking about and contrasting their views of education with hers.  We also watched a Diane Sawyer interview with her (in English) as well as her appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

I’ve already posted about our work with Venezuela, and I’ve also posted a few of the final evaluations.  However, there was one student who did not have her project ready in class yesterday.  She told me she was having some difficulty with the final editing and uploading of her project, and promised that I would have it by last night.  Well, she carried through with her promise, and, in my opinion, it demonstrates her total comprehension of this unit, interpreted through the words of Juanes in his inspirational song, No creo en el jamás.  I wish that @Juanes could view it.  Please watch her video here.

Our work with the song began with Metas No creo en el jamas Juanes revised. The five songs that I selected to use with the unit were mostly successful.  There were three that my students really enjoyed:  Celebra tu vida (Axel), No creo en el jamás (Juanes) and No me doy por vencido (Luis Fonsi).  ( By enjoy, I mean that by the end, they were singing the songs at the top of their lungs!) The songs No hago na’ ma’ (El Gran Combo) and the new version Echar Pa’lante were received with a mediocre reaction, and Bonito (Jarabe de Palo) was a song with which they were already familiar. I also used, to lesser degrees, Vivir mi vida (Marc Anthony), Solo soy (Doctor Krapula) and So What (Sie7e).

The entire scope of this unit, how it went day by day, with additional materials can be viewed here. Next week, we move on to the Immigration unit with materials from the amazing Kara Jacobs (@karacjacobs) and Cristina Zimmerman (@CristinaZimmer4), as well as my additions.  To start the unit, we are going to use the documentary Which Way Home, making the transition from dreams and goals to immigration via the dreams and goals of the dreaming children in the video.


Metas y Sueños…..culminating student projects updated 2/28

Spanish IV has spent almost 5 weeks in this unit.  This week, in addition to the activities for #SOS Venezuela, students have been working on their PBT (performance based task).  The task was to choose one of the five songs that we studied in detail and “reinterpret” it.  They were free to use any visual means to do this.  Many of them chose Powerpoints and PhotoStories because that is what they are most familiar with, but several branched out into different territories.  The actual presentations of the projects will be tomorrow and I will be posting several examples of them, but one was submitted today, and it just blew me away.

These two young men chose to interpret the Juanes song, No creo en el jamás, using iMovie.  While the parameters of the assignment are listed below this post, briefly they were:

  • show me your understanding of the lyrics of this song, in terms of goals, dreams, obstacles, using a visual format
  • do NOT put the actual lyrics in your presentation, instead use our active vocabulary to create your own statements

Here is the link to their presentation.  I would love to hear your feedback (please ignore the error with the verb encontrar in their presentation…grammar is not the focus), and as I said, I will update this post this weekend.

Metas Presentacion de las canciones sobre metas y suenos-1

Here are a few more of their projects. The music probably won’t play in them because of the formatting, but you will get the idea (hopefully). I wish I could share the Powtoon and the Scratch videos that were made, but they are user/password protected. And, as always, gentle with the grammar errors….for me, the content is more important!

Metas Celebra D & J

Metas Celebra S & N    this one doesn’t have transitions in it, you will have to click through it

Metas No me doy E & M     no transitions, click through it

Metas Bonito H & W  no transitions. click through it

Venezuela……Metas y Sueños…….and the power of Twitter

I’ve posted a couple of times now about this unit on goals and dreams that my Spanish IV students are doing (we’re almost done).  I have lots of activities to add to what I’ve already posted about, but something is happening that has interrupted and enriched the unit:  Venezuela.  Thanks to the power of Twitter, I have been able to incorporate the explosive situation in Venezuela into a very real, immediate, authentic source for Metas y Sueños.   ven 1If you have followed this blog for a while, you may remember that I have a huge unit that is loosely called Social Awareness through music; I use this unit in Spanish III.  About two thirds of my Spanish IV students were in my Spanish III classes last year, and therefore have some background knowledge of Venezuela.  Last year we followed the death of Hugo Chavez and the subsequent election between Maduro and Capriles.  So, last Friday, February 21, after having seen the Twitter activity with #SOSVenezuela, I had my students pull out their cell phones (Twitter is blocked at school) to begin reading the tweets with #SOSVenezuela.  We also had laptops out, so they could google Venezuela and find out information to answer their questions.  We spent most of the class “discovering” and talking.  What was happening in Venezuela? Why?  What were the goals and dreams of the students?  The goals of Leopoldo Lopez and his supporters?  The goals of Nicolas Maduro?  It was the best of helpful technology, high interest, situational immediacy, and the inquisitive minds that teenagers can exhibit.

After having followed the situation all through the weekend, I knew that I had to incorporate it into my lesson plan for this week, which was going to throw my timing off for the entire unit, and ultimately has made me do away with the last original Essential Question and evaluation for the unit (la banda sonora de tu vida).  We spent Monday viewing videos that had been tweeted about on Twitter, and working through many, many images, memes and posters.  I put all of the images on a SMARTboard presentation so that they could see them in color and very large.  The vocabulary was an amazing tie in with our active vocabulary for this unit (rendirse, darse por vencido, metas, sueños, vale la pena, alcanzar, etc.)

I followed this exploration with a “Free Write”.  I asked them to take the point of view of one of the following:

  • a student in Venezuela
  • Leopoldo Lopez
  • Nicolas Maduro
  • a musical artist that we have studied (Juanes, Carlos Baute, etc.)
  • an average citizen in Venezuela
  • an average citizen in the U.S.

For five minutes, they were to write about what was happening in Venezuela, using as much of our active vocabulary as possible. As with all of our free writes, grammar counts very little, content is most important.  This free write was 15 points content, 5 points grammar.  The results were impressive, as were the different points of view.

Here is a sampling of some of the sources of information that I used (most of them came directly from Twitter):

We also revisited song of the songs that we had used in Spanish III by Carlos Baute, including this one that has a new video using images from the current situation.

NO TE RINDASAs WORLD language teachers, I can not emphasize enough how valuable Twitter is for us.  It continues to be one of the most valuable tools that I have.