Art in the Spanish classroom

I love teaching Spanish IV!  Although I follow the framework of an outdated curriculum, I am able to add topics that really engage my students.  While student interest in units on narcoviolencia, food from the Hispanic world, and identity may not surprise you, it may be surprising that students really get into Spanish art.  Prior to this year, I have only taught one of the three sections of Spanish IV in my school.  This year, I have all three sections and have been free to expand/incorporate units based on just the preferences of my students and me.  In the past, we taught a 4 week unit on Spanish art, focusing on the development of art vocabulary (and related activities), comparatives and superlatives and a brief glance at Dali and Picasso with a bit more involved week on Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.  I decided before school began that I was going to expand the art unit to 6 weeks, with a week devoted to developing vocabulary and interest, a week for the art/music/history and traditions of Dia de los Muertos, and a week each on Dali, Picasso, Rivera and Kahlo.

I will not say that all students were thrilled when I told them that we were going to study some Spanish art and artists in depth.  They were not!  Sure, the artistically inclined students were interested, but the bulk of them were not prepared to enjoy it as much as they have so far.  I decided to write this post because so many of my students told me yesterday, week three in the art unit,  day 4 of Dali, that they couldn’t stop thinking about him after class….that the videos, readings, paintings, and music that we were using did not stop when they left class.  I had students telling me that they dreamed about the art, or a video we had watched, or the song by Mecano that we had studied.  To me, this is amazing!  Their level of involvement in class, their willingess to share their opinions and ideas, and their receptiveness is so rewarding!  I am not going to claim that everything is happening in the target language.  It is not.  However, large sections of class discussion and activities are!  Yesterday, as we took an  in depth look at some Dali paintings (Geopolitical Child, The 3 Sphinxes, Swans Reflecting Elephants, Raphael Exploding Head, etc.), we definitely had to use a lot of English as they shared what they first saw, what they saw on the second look, what they thought Dali was trying to tell us, and what they thought the painting was titled.  There is great interest going into day 5 (Monday) as they know we are going to look at one his most famous creations, The Hallucinogenic Toreador.  They are eager….yes, eager….to continue with Picasso.

While I could use this blog to upload all the documents that I have used, instead I’m going to link to my wikispace, where the entire lesson in progress is a bit more detailed.  If you scroll to the bottom of the page and move upward, you can see the daily progression of the unit.  When items are listed under more than one day it means that we didn’t finish or get to the material the first time it was listed.  While I have developed a lot of materials myself,  I also have borrowed and adapted materials from many, many sources.  Hopefully, all of them are credited; any missing citations are not intentional, and if brought to my attention, I will definitely fix.

Art 2013

Dia de los Muertos

12 thoughts on “Art in the Spanish classroom

    • The first day I simply played the song in the background as they worked in groups on the reading on Dali. Some of them noticed it and asked about it, others did not. The second day, I gave them the lyrics to part of the song and had them work through it, for meaning, as much as possible. I allowed about 4 minutes. Then we went over it as a class so that they got meaning from other groups, too. Whatever they couldn’t figure out, we left alone. They got most of it. Then I had them watch the video. We then listened again, following the lyrics. Finally, the second part of the group worksheet on the Dali reading contained a section for the song. With their small group (2-3), they worked through them orally. The last part of the paper contained 10 blanks for them to create a que/quien era Dali, based on the reading and the song.
      If you go to my wikispace page for this unit, , you can find the documents that I created and also one that I adapted and modified. They are with the plans for Nov. 6 and Nov. 7. Hope this helps.

  1. Pingback: Art in the Spanish classroom | Resources teachi...

  2. I’ve found that my students are always super enthusiastic about art once i share Dali with them – while i always incorporate art into my literature and culture classes, i believe it’s just as important to include it in even the most basic language classes. I have several dali projects i’ve used in Spanish 1 university courses that have been quite successful. Fun, creative projects, thanks for sharing!

  3. I cannot tell you how helpful your blog and wikispace page will be! This is my first year teaching Spanish IV and I’m completely changing everything on my own! Thank you so much.

      • Did you move everything to another platform yet? I would love to see – this sounds like a fantastic unit!

      • I will be moving my material to as I teach each unit. I’m not sure how much of the art unit I will be able to fit in this year, but I’m getting ready to start Frida.

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