Beginning the school year…….

cover la llorona

I’m getting ready to teach La Llorona de Mazatlan by Katie Baker for the very first time, and I intend to begin working with material associated with it during the first days of school. While I will be using videos with the MovieTalk method to introduce MéxicoMazatlan, and  the legend of La Llorona, I also will need to assess and identify what these new students know or remember.   I don’t want to “review” in the traditional sense of review, but I know that I need to wake those summer brains so that they remember present tense and past tense.  AND, I need to make sure that those verbs that are so crucial for storytelling are cemented in with the new groups of students. I am only going to know about 20 of my 115 students this year, and they will be coming from many different Spanish instruction styles.  Looking at the Super Seven and Sweet 16 list that Mike Peto posted in this blog entry, I found a song that has many of them.  Additionally, the song will eventually fit in with one of the storylines in La Llorona, although in a slightly different way.

CD9 is a “boy band” from Mexico, very similar, in my opinion, to One Direction.  The five young men are all between the ages of 17 – 19, and should  therefore be quite interesting to many of my students.  I created a series of seven different activities to be used with their song “Me Equivoqué“.  I first heard the song when they released a really cute lyric video for it a little over a month ago, and knew that I was going to use it this year.  Today they released the official video for the song.  I will probably use the lyric video first, playing it as students enter the room.  I will spend several different days working through the activities for Me Equivoqué por CD9 de México.  Only after we have finished those activities will I use the official video.  It is significantly different in the arrangement or ordering of the song.  Below are the various activities that I will be using,

  • listening for verbs remembered; identifying past/present (without viewing the video)
  • cloze
  • reading comprehension/questions
  • paraphrasing
  • Arrange lyrics in order
  • Pair English/Spanish lyrics
  • Free Write   “Me Equivoqué……”

Me Equivoqué por CD9 de México
I. Escucha sin mirar el video (3 versos) y escribe 7 verbos

¿Presente o Pasado? Identifica tus verbos.
II. Completa
______________________________ otra vez, con la ausencia de tu voz
y ___________________________________, con mis manos tu silueta amor
Si te _______________________ no __________________________,
si te _________________ nunca ______________________________
Nena __________________me una oportunidad
Mis días se _____________________ noches, si no ______________________
Sin ti la vida, ya no __________________________ igual
Te ________________________________ en mis brazos, me ______________________ aceptarlo
Me ____________________________________ie ie ie eh
Mis manos ________________________________ tu calor
Quisiera que escucharas mi canción
Te __________________________________ en mis brazos, me _________________ aceptarlo
Me _____________________________ ie ie ie eh
Me _____________________________
Me _____________________________

CD9 es el grupo conformado por Jos, Alonso, Freddy, Alan y Bryan, amigos que unieron sus talentos para formar una gran propuesta musical. Mientras se encontraban desarrollando (developing) su proyecto, no querían que nadie se enterara (find out) de lo que estaban planeando, por lo que implementaron el Code 9, que es un código que se utilizaba entre los jóvenes en los chats, para advertir (warn) que había alguien cerca y que no podían hablar del tema; Code 9 es la manera moderna de decir: “hay pájaros en el alambre”. Así, cuando los chicos hablaban al teléfono o estaban enviándose mensajes o chateando, si alguien se acercaba decían o tecleaban CD9 (que es el acrónimo de Code 9) e inmediatamente dejaban (stopped) de hablar del tema.
Al final, cuando los chicos se encontraban buscando un nombre para el grupo, pensaron en una infinidad de posibilidades, sin darse cuenta (realizing) que el nombre
perfecto había estado allí todo el tiempo. “CD9 refleja lo que somos; cinco chavos que hemos guardado en secreto nuestra música, pero que ahora estamos listos para mostrársela al mundo”, comentan.     Fuente:
Contesta las preguntas en inglés.
1. ¿Quiénes son CD9? ______________________
2. ¿Qué es Code 9? ¿Por qué lo usaron? ________________
3. ¿Por qué es CD9 ideal para ellos? ___________________
4. What do you think “hay pájaros en el alambre” could possibly mean? _____
5. ¿Qué es el sinónimo para “chicos” que está en esta lectura? ______
IV. En tus palabras, qué significan (quiere decir) ……
A. Desperté, otra vez, con la ausencia de tu voz
y pinté, con mis manos tu silueta amor
B. Si te llamo no contestas, si te busco nunca estás
Nena dame una oportunidad
C. Mis días se hacen noches, si no estás
Sin ti la vida, ya no sabe igual
D. Te quiero en mis brazos,
me duele aceptarlo, Me equivoqué ie ie ie eh
V. Pon las letras en orden (1 – 8)
_______ pero llamo y no contestas, si te busco nunca estás
_______ ¿Te fallé? Y tal vez, no merezca tu perdón
_______ Me duele aceptarlo
_______ Mis días se hacen noches si no estás,
_______ Soñaré que has pensado en olvidar lo que pasó
_______ Nena escucha solo una vez más
_______ Te quiero en mis brazos,
_______ Sin ti la vida ya no sabe igual
VI. Empareja
A. Dejemos todo atrás, volvamos a empezar
B. No sabes cuánto me arrepiento
C. Sin ti no sale el sol, no late el corazón, no
D. La vida ya no tiene color
E. Mis días se hacen noches si no estás
F. Sin ti la vida, ya no sabe igual,
G. Te quiero en mis brazos,
H. Me duele aceptarlo
I. Me equivoqué ie ie ie eh
Me equivoqué Me equivoqué
J. ¿Te fallé?
K. Y tal vez, no merezca tu perdón

_____ 1. I made a mistake
_____ 2. Life is colorless
_____ 3. Without you, life isn’t the same
_____ 4. I made a mistake, I failed you
_____ 5. I want you in my arms
_____ 6. You don’t know how sorry I am
_____ 7. My days become nights without you
_____ 8. Maybe I don’t deserve your forgiveness
_____ 9. It hurts me to accept it
_____ 10. Let’s leave everything behind, let’s start again
_____ 11. Without you, the sun doesn’t rise, my heart doesn’t beat

VII. Me equivoque cuando…………………….. (Escribe un cuento de cinco oraciones)

Esperanza y Gaby Moreno

cover of bookSchool starts in just a few days.  For the first time, I’m going to be starting the school year with the novel Esperanza by Carol Gaab. There are some superb lesson plans and activities that have been developed by Martina Bex and Profe Hanson. I will be using a lot of their material, but I’m also going to be creating some of my own….particularly dealing with music, and for this book, music from Guatemala.

I absolutely love the voice and music of Gaby Moreno.  She has a beautiful song called Ave que emigra, that I believe will help me transition into the central issue of immigration, reasons and causes.

I have developed activities that are designed to be done over at least two days. Our work with the song will  begin with watching the first minute of it and identifying what is seen.  It will continue with some ordering of the first two verses, some comprehension questions for those verses, a short cloze activity, some discussion with a partner, a retell in your own words, some work with synonyms and antonyms, interpretation of the title of the song, a reflection of the significance of the title in English, and drawing of choice lyrics.  If you would like to see the document, here it is: Ave Que Emigra por Gaby Moreno.



Vazquez Sounds


One thing that has remained a constant in my 33 years of teaching is music, and the place that I feel that it holds in teaching a world language.  From the years of those old vinyl 45’s and 33’s  when I used to have to listen to a song a million times (slight exaggeration) to get all the lyrics, to 2014 when all the lyrics are right at our Google fingertips, I have consistently used music as a “hook” in my WL toolbox.  While styles, genres, and tastes in music have all evolved over the years, and are constantly in a state of flux, I can usually (but not always) identify an artist that will appeal to my students.  Not quite three years ago, I became acquainted with Vazquez Sounds, a trio of siblings from Mexicali, Mexico.  At the time, they were 9, 12 and 15 years of age, and they had done a cover of Rolling in the Deep that became a youtube hit, it now has over 135,000,000 hits!!  I played it for my students and they were fascinated.

I then had to find more information about them, and we explored what was available.  Periodically over the next year, I updated about them with my students, and then I forgot about them.

Well, they have exploded onto my radar again with new videos, including an original instead of just covers. Ángela is even the Spanish voiceover for Disney’s new Tinker Belle movie (El Secreto de las Hadas). In 2014, Abelardo is now 18, Gustavo is 15 and Angie is 12…..ages that will definitely appeal to a broad spectrum of our students, and their music/musicality is GOOD!!! I think that there are many activities, applicable to novice and intermediate levels of Spanish, that could be developed from studying them and their music.  Their official website could be explored by students; novice students might look just for cognates or words that they could pick out that are related to music. The information about the siblings could be used by intermediate students for reading comprehension and an assortment of activities related to that.  It is of high interest, and extremely “readable”.  All of the music that they have released over the past three years is on the site, too.  Intermediate students could listen to Angie in an interview on Primer Impacto; there is also a great video that is labeled as Biografia from which different activities could be developed.

Then there are the two new original videos released this year.  The first one is Te soñaré.  So much could be done with these videos for novice or intermediate: infinitives, past tense, high frequency vocabulary words…..

The one just released a few days ago is Me Voy, Me Voy

Without a doubt I will be developing activities to go with these videos.  I’d love to hear from you…what ideas and suggestions do you have?

Follow them on Twitter @ vazquezsounds


Back to school………again……

August 1.  It’s a date that weighs heavily on most teachers.  The start of a new school year is literally right around the corner.  For me, it is the start of either my 33rd, 34th or 35th year (depending on how you count, and what you do with maternity leave!!). I took a self imposed break from blogging this summer.  The last school year was a tough one and I needed to rejuvenate. I was not happy with how my Spanish III students progressed, in comparison to previous years.  Some of that may have been the student, some of that was definitely me (major events in my lifetime last year included 3 college graduations and my son’s wedding), and some of it was the last step in the transition from text to no text, and the complete acceptance and full implementation of Comprehensible Input (CI).

I have not used a textbook with students for at least the past seven years……..but I still have relied (less each year) on the county curriculum.  That meant that I was still tied to teaching certain “themes/sets” of vocabulary and definitely some conventional grammar mechanisms.  Last year was the “tip over” point.  For the first time, I had all three sections of Spanish IV and I did not have to maintain the curriculum with another teacher!  I did not lesson plan with someone else who may still be entrenched in the philosophy “Oh, this is the level that we teach if, then clauses, sequencing of tenses, por/para, etc.”.  I was free to follow my own and my students’ desires, timeline and interests. It was so liberating. My Spanish IV students, in my eyes, made huge leaps last year.  The transition had been taking place for years, but last year, it became complete.  That is NOT to say that everything was successful!!!  I made mistakes, I blundered, I took my students down paths that were unnecessary…..BUT, there also incredible rewards, big growth in their speaking and writing abilities (even after they groaned, “another free write?”).  Will I change things this year?  You bet!  But I have a very clear vision of what we will explore and do together.  It will be based on the evolution from the past few years, fine tuned from last year, and I’m sure there will be further adjustments this year.  But it is exciting. We will be reading at least two TPRS Publishing novels (@TPRS publishing ) this year:  beginning with La Llorona de Mazatlan the second day of school, and using Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatruche in the midst of the Narcoviolencia unit and the Immigration unit.  I am hoping to seek funds from the PTA to purchase a third, La Hija del Sastre, to use somewhere in conjunction with the Art unit (when we explore Picasso, Dali, Kahlo and Rivera). The units of Narcoviolencia, Immigration and Art were favorite units of the majority of last years 67 Spanish IV students (along with the Copa Mundial unit at the end of the year).  I know that I will continue with the Fluency 1 assignments that evolved from Sara-E.Cottrell @SECottrell and several other terrific Twitter colleagues.  I moved the Fluency depository to Edmodo last year, and it worked very well.  Oh, yes, I can hardly wait to get started!

Now, Spanish III, last year, that was another story!  But, I have hope!  This school year will begin with CI being used by both of us who teach the 5 sections of Spanish III.  We are both starting the year with a TPRS Publishing novel (Esperanza), and know that we will use Robo en la Noche again (we did last year, too, with incredible success).  We also will seek funding for a third, La Guerra Sucia. The framework for this coming year is located on my wikispace, El Mundo de Birch. The Essential Questions are already posted for Esperanza:

1. ¿Dónde está Guatemala? ¿Cómo es Guatemala?
2. ¿Qué pasó en Guatemala de 1970 hasta 1999? ¿Cómo respondió los EE. UU.?
3. ¿Cómo es la vida del inmigrante?
4. ¿Cómo representan las canciones la vida cotidiana de Guatemala y de los inmigrantes?
5. ¿Qué está pasando en Guatemala hoy día? ¿Cómo está respondiendo los EE.UU.?
6. ¿Por qué tiene el libro el título de “Esperanza”?
7. ¿Qué es el Immigrant Archive Project?

Focus countries and some general grammatical areas are also listed.  Yes, I am excited and hopeful for Spanish III this year.

I have not reached this point alone.  If you are not on Twitter, I would urge you, no….I would implore you……USE IT!!!  It is the best professional development around.  Through Twitter, you will be able to connect with such an assortment of teachers, with a collective wisdom that just astounds me.  Follow their blogs, follow their ideas, their successes and their failures.  The support is incredible.  That “fount of knowledge and inspiration” includes, but is certainly not limited to:




La Copa Mundial 2014

FIFA 2014 official logo   I have been collecting resources for La Copa Mundial 2014 for almost a year on my Pinterest board…..and now it’s almost here.  I’ve also followed the incredible Zachary Jones, as he  has created activities for La Copa, and of course, the fantastic work of Kara Jacobs. I will be starting my World Cup unit in two weeks (really it is a unit on several World Cups and soccer in general), and have created a page on my wikispace with my essential questions (similar to Kara’s) and all of the resources now divided by category: essential questions, informal and formal assessments, videos to support the essential questions and soccer in general, focus songs, additional songs, and useful links to articles, infographics, etc. During the next two weeks, I will be creating activities and worksheets to go with my focus songs and the songs that I will be comparing/contrasting (such as the multiple versions of La Copa de Todos/The World is Ours and Shakira’s 2010 Waka Waka with her 2014 LaLaLa), and also for several of the videos that will support my essential questions.  All of the activities that I will create will be posted on that wikipage as I finish them and get ready to use them.  I’m really looking forward to sharing the excitement with my students, and I welcome any additional material you might like to share!


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.