My Spanish IV classes finished the novel Frida, by Kristy Placido right before our Christmas/winter holiday break. It was the culmination to a large art unit that expanded due to the interest of this years’ students. Originally I had planned to spend just a few days on the art for Día de Muertos, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso before moving into the novel Frida and a study of some of her art. However, my students, for the most part, were really interested in Pablo Picasso and Guernica as well as Salvador Dalí and the painting The Hallucinogenic Toreador. I created many additional materials to go with our study, including two stories that I wrote for them (always keeping comprehensible input in mind!!!) as well as several SMARTboard presentations. What I intended to cover in just over a week morphed into three weeks, really cutting into my time for the novel Frida.
I originally thought that Soy Yo by Bomba Estéreo with great activities from Kara Jacobs was going to be a main focal song for Frida. I thought that the fierce affirmation of “I am who I am” from that song would go well with the personality of Frida. I did use the song, but minimally, as I discovered Caótica Belleza by Esteman featuring Natalia Lafourcade, at the end of October, just as I was beginning the art unit. The song immediately struck a chord with me and my focus changed. The video is sweeping, beautiful and mesmerizing, and the lyrics are profound. For me, the declaration in the lyrics celebrating diversity, individuality, and Latin American culture simply tied the song to Frida. “Hoy puedo ver lo que yo fui, de donde soy de donde vengo” and “Hay cosas en la vida que no se pueden cambiar” just resonated as part of the identity of Frida. Since we started our study of Frida with a discussion and defining of beauty, we were able to carry on that discussion/identification with this song called Chaotic Beauty. Most of my students enjoyed the song and internalized the lyrics. I even placed the song in our “Locura de diciembre” music contest in which it was a semifinalist, losing to the eventual winner, Hasta el amanecer.
Prior to exposure to Caótica Belleza we had briefly worked with the Lasso song “Como te odio” which included the lyric: “hay cosas en que uno se puede superar” (there are things in life that one can overcome) which we were able to directly compare with the lyric “hay cosas en la vida no se pueden cambiar” (there are things in life that one can’t change) from Caótica Belleza. (The ever wonderful Kara Jacobs created some great things to go with the Lasso song.) Our first activity with Caótica Belleza was a partner organization of the first 10 lines of the song as we listened. I gave each group of 2/3 a set of sentence strips that they ordered as we listened. This was a very easy activity. I always run off the strip sets in different colors so that it is easy to match a stray lyric to the proper set. After the students successfully ordered the lyrics, they worked to apply meaning to the lyrics. By this time they had quite a background knowledge of Frida from the Zamba video as well as the first few chapters in the novel. The second day that we worked with a traditional cloze and then compared Spanish/English lyrics as well as how the lyrics might apply to Frida. Here is the order activity and the cloze activity, if you are interested: caotica-belleza-cloze-and-sentence-ordering-2 The third activity with the song, a few days later (when many had already downloaded and memorized parts of the lyrics) was another order activity, but as a large group. I divided the class in half and gave each group a set of individual strips with the lyrics from the last verse. Each person received at least one strip, some, depending on the size of the class, got two strips. The groups listened to the song and attempted to create a single file line with their lyrics in order. This was harder to do as I did not let them talk…only listen and push each other to the proper place 🙂 When they had the order we had a contest to see which group could get the meaning of the lyrics first. I allowed them 2 minutes to discuss, but then they had to resume their line and each person was responsible for the meaning of the lyric strip that they held. If that person stumbled, or couldn’t complete the lyric, the “game” passed to the other half of the class. It took some time to actually get through this, too! I then gave them 30 seconds to memorize the lyric strip that they held. They had to put it away, and each half of the class attempted to recite the lyrics, in order, in Spanish, with each person responsible for his/her individual strip. Difficult, but fun, plus it helped to cement the lyrics/ideas/meanings in their heads…..turning it into comprehensible input! Here are the strips for that activity: caotica-belleza-last-verse-group-ordering
Last item, here is a link to my youtube channel with music for the Frida unit, typically played while working on other things in class!
Overall, the majority of my Spanish IV students found the novel Frida by Kristy Placido an easy, very comprehensible read, and just as important…..they enjoyed it. I can’t wait to teach it/share it a second time!