About sraslb

I'm a high school Spanish teacher who remains, after 37 years, fascinated by all things Spanish and who was reincarnated 10 years ago by the web 2.0 movement.

Take 3….Vida y Muerte en la MS 13

One of my favorite things about the Fluency Matters novels is the variety available. Spanish IV has read La Llorona de Mazatlán by Katie Baker and Frida by Kristy Placido this year, bringing the total of novels that they have read in Spanish to six. They have been exposed to the culture of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Spain, and they have read, among many topics, about immigration, Civil Wars, environmental issues, cultural traditions, bullfighting, polemic issues, legends, soccer, and art. They have read lighthearted topics and serious topics, but with everything that they have read, they have been exposed to compelling comprehensible input that I can mold according to the needs and interests of each class.  Additionally, with our FVR on Fridays, they are being exposed to more of these novels that THEY choose to read.

A few weeks ago, we started Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha 13 for my third time. As with every time that I begin a novel, the one constant is that nothing stays the same and I always am revising, adding and crafting new materials, trying to get that “just right” level. I always feel that I am under some pressure to get through material in a timely manner in my 50 minute classes, and it is always in the back of my mind, as Carol Gaab has said so many times, “slow down, slow down, slow down.” Such a battle!!! However, slower has definitely been better this time around.

For four weeks prior to beginning this unit, we were in a unit about their dreams and goals. Their final visual assessments are all over the wall fo the room, as I wanted that visual representation of their hopes to be a constant reminder as we began to explore the hopes and dreams of the youth of El Salvador during the Civil War. We started with a terrific reading from Martina Bex about La Masacre de El Mozote. This was the first year using this reading, and it definitely helped to prep the students for what we were plunging into. I also took Martina’s reading and created a powerpoint with many additional pictures (25 slides ) and followup explanations and materials for El Mozote. After two days using some of the materials that Kara Jacobs created for the “pre work” about El Salvador and the Civil War, we moved into the movie Voces Inocentes, the true story of a young boy growing up in the midst of the Civil War. I was very careful this year to make sure that we continued to contrast their hopes/dreams with youth in entirely different circumstances. In previous years, I pushed to get through the movie in three days, always wanting to spend more time discussing what we watched (but not doing so), but also feeling pressure to get to the novel.  I can not tell you how much better it was to spend SIX days (double the time) on this movie this year. We watched about 20 – 25 minutes each day and spent the first part of class talking about, discussing and refining what we had watched the day before. One day we did this with a partner, another day in a group of four, another day as a whole class, etc. I used some of the questions from Kara’s guide to the movie, some from a guide put together by Carmen Herrero and Ana Valbuena, and combined these with some of my own material: voces-inocentes-post-viewing-day-1-2017, voces-inocentes-post-viewing-from-day-2-2017, voces-inocentes-post-viewing-day-3-2017, voces-inocentens-post-viewing-day-4. The day after day 5, when we finished the movie, each class spent a considerable amount of time working through their reactions and questions concerning some of these (varied by class):

Marcos, simbolismo de la galleta
La reacción de Kella y Abuelita al ver que Chava no está
¿Por qué Ancha?
Cuando Chava recogió el rifle, empezó a disparar y paró….por qué
Simbolismo del arma que dejó caer Chava
El grito de “NO” al ver el fuego en la casa
El regreso de Kella, buscando a Chava (el amor que no cesa)
Cuando Chava tomó la cara de Kella en sus manos…(ahora, sí, es el hombre de la casa)…agarra su mano y dijo “Vámonos de aquí)
Vendió la máquina de coser para el viaje de Chava a los EE.UU
La reacción de Kella cuando Ricardito dijo “Ahora soy el hombre de la casa.”
Chava, no quiere ir a los EE.UU…dijo: “Pero si me quedo me van a acabar matando.”
La escena al final cuando Chava está manejando por los techos
Why was the story left up to Chava to tell? “Pero me tocó a mí”      

Finally, on day 6, we played a “game” that I have always called Levántate y Cambia, but I saw recently somewhere (I can’t remember, where!!  I’m sorry! Help!) with the name Quiz, Quiz, Change. voces-inocentes-levantate-y-cambia I took questions and vocabulary from the movie,  ran them off on cardstock and gave a card to each student.  They got up, asked a partner their question, the partner answered it, then asked his/her question, was answered, they switched cards and moved to someone else.  We then immediately went into an untimed free write, where they were free to write about their choices of symbolism in the movie, character growth/development in the movie, the effects of the Civil War, the most powerful scene, etc.  Many of their free writes were in depth and quite moving.

Another thing that I did differently with the movie this year was to preteach two of the powerful songs from Voces Inocentes:  Casas de  Cartón and Razones. Mike Peto had blogged about the impact that Casas could have if the students know it prior to the first of three times that it is used within the movie, and, boy, was he correct! My students in the past always grew to like the song AFTER the fact; it was entirely different when they understood the lyrics from the first time it occurs in the movie.  By the third time it plays in the movie, several of my students were in tears. It was equally successful to preteach Razones by Bebe (just using 1:32 of the song); the rawness of her voice, the lyrics and the moment that it plays in the movie all converged to make a very powerful moment.

Yet something else that I added this year, still prior to beginning the novel, was a study of Oscar Romero.  Since we had been exposed to the activity of priests in the movie, and we had read a bit about Oscar Romero in our prework for the Civil War, I added a reading that I wrote (oscar-romero, with a reminder that I am not a native speaker and there most likely are errors) and a study of his last address/sermon. We also watched a few clips from the movie, Romero, and one for the last sermon.

This time around, as we begin to get engrossed in the compelling biography of the narrator in Vida y Muerte, I didn’t want them to forget the Civil War in El Salvador, why so many came to the U.S. and how these teenagers (parents of the narrator) had hopes and dreams just like they have. Since The novel begins with the initiation of the narrator into the gang life, one of the first pieces of music that I have used in the past is “Gangsta” by Kat Dahlia.  It’s always a song that the students really respond to, but I wanted to push it further this year. So, before we began, we had some small group discussion, followed by a class discussion about “Gangstas.”  Side note: my students find it really, really humorous to hear me (the older teacher) say “gangsta”!  I created this document to guide their discussion: gangsta

The final step, prior to beginning the novel was the work with the song. First exposure was with lyric strips (the first 12 lines) that two students had to order as they listened. Printing the lyrics out on colorful cardstock, cutting them out and putting them in a baggie, makes it possible for this activity to be done multiple times, multiple years. dices-ser-un-gangsta-first-part-strips-for-ordering  Once they had determined the correct order, they attempted to apply meaning to the lyrics with their partner. We read the lyrics in English and Spanish, we sang them multiple times, and they were hooked. We followed that activity with a traditional cloze. This week I will use the song yet again with a second part of lyric strips from later in the song. gangsta-second-part-sentence-strips

We are now, four weeks into the start, on chapter 5 of the novel.  We’ve watched clips of movies, played Kahoot and Quizlet, worked with SMART presentations that I’ve created for Los Angeles and specific chapters, done multiple partner activities, class discussions, and Smash Doodles.It’s going to be a long time to the finish.  Last year, I went through the novel and immediately went into an Immigration unit.  HEAVY MATERIAL! This year I am breaking up the intensity/seriousness of the material by doing 4 days with the novel (Monday through Thursday) and having Friday devoted to FVR and El Internado.  So far, it is going well.  This week will bring activities with another song that has been successful with students and this novel, Así Crecí by Farruko (entire post about that song from last year here) and the creation of our own tatuajes (to go with the narrator getting his first one).

The going is slow, but it is definitely rewarding.

My YouTube playlist for Vida y Muerte.

My Pinterest page for Vida y Muerte.

My wikispace page for daily plans for Vida y Muerte, a work in progress.

Taking Robo en la Noche out of the classroom

This is the fourth year that my Spanish III classes have read Robo en la Noche by @Kristy Placido.  (It will also be my last time teaching it since we are moving it to Spanish II next year, but then I get to teach Noche de Oro in Spanish III!) I finally feel that we “almost” got it right, this, the fourth time!

I live in a relatively small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. My students are not, for the most part, world travelers. Many of them have rarely ventured off of our peninsula.  The concept of a rain forest is a foreign concept (pun intended). How to make a rain forest “real” for them? I love the idea of creating a rain forest in the classroom…I’ve seen that in several posts by great teachers. However, our classrooms are shared, and used every period of the school day. Therefore, that wasn’t really a viable option. In the second year with the novel, I got the idea, almost at the end of the novel, to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  It has a rain forest, parrots, monkeys, etc. By the time we visited, we had been out of the novel for weeks and the possible power of the moment was lost. The third year in the novel, I revisited the idea of the Aquarium, got the timing almost right and was almost satisfied with the visit. This time, the fourth time with the book, we visited the Aquarium in conjunction with Makenna, Inés, and Dr. Parker traveling to Curú. That was, in my opinion, the time to go!

Having visited the Aquarium myself many times, and using the detailed website, I was able to create a scavenger hunt for my students. This has been part of the visit each time. Last year, in addition to the pictures that students had to take as part of the hunt, I added a video component. However, it was difficult for the students to send me their videos due to board of education restrictions, phones, and length of videos.  This year, they did about 30 seconds of character interpretation or a quick scene in the “selva”. They had a blast, for the most part, doing them and I was pleased with the results.

Here are the parts of the scavenger hunt. They were working in small groups of their own choosing ( 3- 6 students in a group).

I.  Animals: We have been adding animals to our active vocabulary as we have progressed through the novel.  I have used songs such as What Does the Fox Say? in Spanish, El Pollito Pio (with an inventive paper from Zachary Jones/Zambombazo from several years ago), Save the Americans, Costan Rican Animals for the Overworked, some previous things that I had created to go with an old “Animal” unit, and Lion King materials from years ago. We have had many conversations about animals, pets, exotic animals, etc. Therefore, I had them create a list of animals that they saw in the Aquarium that they knew how to say in Spanish.

II.  The Rain Forest: I had them list what they could see and hear as they visited this wonderful part of the Aquarium.

rana-azul

mimi

ibis-escarlata

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III. FOTOS! Who doesn’t like selfies and group photos???

 Las fotos que necesitan (efectos especiales son buenos!)
1. la rana venenosa azul o verde del árbol
2. Su grupo con una vista (view) del Inner Harbor
3. Con un loro amarillo y verde del Amazonas
4. Su grupo con su animal favorito del acuario                                                                          5. De un pez sierra                                                                                                                     6. De un boa esmeralda
7. Una persona del grupo tocando una medusa de luna O un cangrejo herradura O una estrella del mar en el lugar “Living Seashore”. ¡Si tienes más de un animal, puedes substituir para otra foto! This last part, new this year, was a huge hit! They loved taking their pictures touching these.

tocando

 

 

 

tocando-3

 

tocando-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IV. Random Information:
1. ¿Qué esqueleto está cerca del techo en el acuario?
A. dinosaurio B. ballena C. tiburón
2. ¿Cómo se llaman dos “rayas” que están en Blacktip Reef?
3. ¿Qué animal es “la mascota” del acuario?
4. ¿Qué animal tiene electricidad en el acuario?
5. ¿Qué tipo de animal es Feliz?
6. En la selva tropical, busca información sobre el papagayo/loro: ¿Dónde puede vivir? ¿Quién es el “predator” de estos pájaros/aves?
7. ¿Cómo se llama el réptil que está en la exhibición de Tidal Marsh ? (Es el réptil oficial del estado de Maryland, y de la universidad de Maryland)
V. The Video en la selva!!! We made a breakfast stop when we were about an hour and a half away from the aquarium. After we got back on the bus, I gave them the scavenger hunt paper which included the directions for the video. They had the time, if they chose to use it, to begin thinking and talking about the video that they would create. If I were going next year, I would not give the option of a “scene” from the book in the rain forest. I would make all of the videos character representations in the selva. However, here were the directions for this year:
• Una persona es Inés, una persona es Makenna, una persona es Dr. David Parker, y otras personas como Cecilio o Juan Carlos.
• Tienen que imaginar que Uds. están en Curú (la selva tropical).
• Tienen que usar muchas de estas palabras:
1. Aves                                                                                                                                     2. Soga
3. Loro o papagayo                                                                                                                   4. Huevos
5. Selva                                                                                                                                     6. Árbol
7. Volar                                                                                                                                   8. Plumas
9. Soltar                                                                                                                                10. Patas o alas
11. Cuidar                                                                                                                               12. Pierna rota
• Cada persona tiene que hablar. El video debe durar 30 – 45 segundos, NO MÁS!!!!
Since I can’t upload any videos on this free wordpress site, I am posting some action shots from their videos below!

We finished our visit through the Aquarium with the “delfines” which was enjoyable for all and then made our way to The Cheesecake Factory for a late lunch….that, too, was definitely a hit! Since we could not go to Costa Rica, this field trip was a good way to bring the rain forest and the environment of Robo en la Noche to them. Even though we live in an area where the humidity is pretty bad in the summer, most of them really complained about how warm and humid it was in the rain forest area of the Aquarium.
I’m not sure how many readers might have access to a zoo or an aquarium in their regions, but it certainly is worth looking into. It is a way to make the action and the setting much more relevant and believable for the students.

miaalastair-owenbrimanal

 

 

Update to Metas unit: goals and dreams

metas-2017I have done a unit on “goals and dreams” since 2010. Each year it takes on a different shape…sometimes shifting considerably. I haven’t posted about the unit since 2014, before I knew that I was going to be teaching Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha as the next unit following “metas” (This year will be the third time reading that novel). A unit on goals and dreams is perfect to do at the beginning of January, when goals/resolutions/promises may prompt our attention. I think that it is an appropriate unit to do with any language, but obviously, I teach Spanish, so my resources are going to be in Spanish but I believe that they could easily be adapted.

Preguntas Esenciales
1. ¿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?
2. ¿Cómo presentan los sueños y las metas las canciones populares?
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? (This question we did not cover adequately this year due to snow days, exam schedule)

Las Canciones

  1.  La Lista (Aldrey, Venezuela)
  2. Vivir mi vida (Marc Anthony, U.S)
  3. De Tú a tú (Lasso, Venezuela)
  4. Creo en mí (Natalia Jimenez, Spain)
  5. No creo en el jamás (Juanes, Colombia)
  6. No me doy por vencido (Luis Fonsi, Puerto Rico)
  7. El Ganador (Nicky Jam, U.S.)
  8. Celebra la vida (Axel, Argentina)

Las Historias

  1. Las doce uvas de la suerte, La Nochevieja (to start our resolutions, goals, and cultural comparison), purchase here from Martina Bex
  2. Campbell Remess, (a young boy who sews bears for sick children) a “freebie” that Martina Bex posted in late December/early January?
  3. A visual story that I created about multiple people who have overcome physical challenges (including Frida, who we had just studied and read about in December)
  4. Jennifer Bricker, Todo es posible (acrobat born without legs), purchase here from Martina Bex.  Leads into the song Vivir mi vida
  5. A story and powerpoint created by Arianne Dowd for De Tú a tú; I added background information for the current situation in Venezuela
  6. A story that I adapted from Zachary Jones  (and have rewritten four times) about sand artist Kseniya Simonova. I originally read about her back in 2009 (I think) in a post in the original Zachary Jones blog! Leads into the song Creo en mi
  7. A story that I wrote for Malala (based on a BBC article that I read).  Leads into the song No me doy por vencido
  8. A story that I wrote about Juanes and his personal struggles following his rapid successes from 2000 – 2006 (based on his autobiography, Persiguiendo el Sol).  Leads into the song No creo en el jamas
  9. An oral history of the life of Nicky Jam and why his new album is called “Fenix”.  Leads into the song El Ganador

Assessments

  1.  Quizlet
  2. Lyricstraining (choose two of the songs that we covered)
  3. Free writes
  4. Mixed media presentation that tied at least two songs with at least five lyrics to each students’ personal life, philosophy, goals and dreams
  5. A multitude of partner and small group informal assessments from discussions, questions, reading interpretations, etc.
  6. Individual and partner creation and translations of tweets about #metas # propósitos #sueños #nomedoyporvencido #retos, etc.

Many of the materials above are available, free, on my wiki. I would just ask that you not claim the work as yours when using it, if that is what you choose to do. Several of the files are too large to load on the wikispace, such as the SMART files, but I am willing to share via email if asked. Please do not ask me to share Martina’s fabulous work that I purchased, or Arianne’s creations that she freely shared with me.  You may purchase them or contact them.

We will wrap this unit up tomorrow.  The surprise of the unit was the release of the song by Nicky Jam (El Ganador), which occurred yesterday! I knew as soon as I heard the lyrics that it was going to be an awesome conclusion to the unit.  The song is essentially the life story of Nicky Jam and how he overcame some major obstacles to rise, like the proverbial phoenix, to success.  I had virtually no time to prepare it and went into the lesson today with what I knew about his life, supplemented with the song.  I showed the video first, they were hooked (it is essentially trap music….which is huge in this area right now).  Next, I orally told the story of his life, supplementing it with pictures I pulled up as I was talking and prior Nicky Jam songs that we have studied (Hasta el amanecer won our December bracketology).  I then replayed the video for El Ganador, stopping every few seconds to talk about what he was saying.  The students could understand it so well! Next year I will prepare, probably, a much more formal lesson/reading to go with it, but for today, it was a great success.

One final thing about the unit.  In one of my three sections of Spanish IV we had an intense discussion about school/education versus the joys of learning. For that class I used this video the following day Alike.  I highly recommend it.

Our next unit is Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha and the goals and dreams unit provides a wonderful foundation for the extended vocabulary/rich discussions that we will have as we read the book.  We talk about the goals/dreams of the narrator, the challenges/obstacles that he may overcome, etc. We can compare their goals and dreams with those in the book because their mixed media presentations will be hanging all around the room.

 

 

Music……my top ???

musica_jkmlnI have so enjoyed reading through a large number of blogs where the authors have posted their top posts of the year.  It is illuminating to go back through the various blogs, read something again or read something I missed for the first time. Reading the reflections of the various authors of these blogs is helpful and certainly adds motivation for the coming new year.  I am very grateful to many, many teachers out there in the blog world who so freely share their thoughts, plans, lessons, motivation and inspiration.  Whether they blog frequently or infrequently, I learn so much from them.

I am an infrequent blogger, but I was inspired by all of those “top posts” and decided that I would blog about one of my biggest passions in language teaching: music.  I thought to myself, well, that is easy….I’ll post my top 20 songs of 2016!  And then I started creating the list, and it rapidly morphed into something very large, way more than what I originally planned.  My top 20 became 30, 40, 50 and more so fast that it caused me to reflect even more.  Sharing music in my classroom has been part of my teaching since I started many, many years ago….38 to be precise. However, in the act of trying to create a list of the top 20 songs from 2016 (in my Spanish III and IV classes), I realized that it is more than that. It is a part of my identity as a teacher.  I have known for years that the music is something that my students carry with them when they leave my classes.  They download it, create playlists, tell me about singing it in their cars, tell me about hearing songs we’ve studied when they are outside of class, tell me about driving their families crazy with their replaying of Spanish songs at home, and tell me when they see me years later, after graduation, that they still remember “X”.  But when I went to create the list of my top 20 songs from last year, I realized that my students, most of them, are internalizing a very large number of artists, genres and topics into their lives outside of class.  I tend to live in the moment, and I realized, in individual moments and individual units, that this song or that song was a “hit”.  When I reflected on the totality of last year, specifically, I discovered that it was so much more than just a song or two.

Disclaimer: Not all of these songs will be appropriate for all of your classes.  There are lyrics and/or videos that may not work for your situation.  I frequently have to make decisions on whether to show the music video or the lyric video…or to cut out certain parts. I am not endorsing this music.  I am simply sharing what has interested my students a LOT.

So how do I categorize all this music?  I could categorize by artist, or genre, or region or unit but I could not categorize by TOP songs for very long.  This is because so many of the songs were so well received. I’ve decided to categorize in a number of manners.  Here goes……

A.  I did a music mania/bracketology contest (inspired by Dustin Williamson, I believe) twice last year: once in May and once in December.  The top songs from those contests were:

  1. La Gozadera (Marc Anthony and Gente de Zona: Puerto Rico/Cuba)
  2. Sofía  (Álvaro Soler: Spain)
  3. Duele el corazón (Enrique Iglesias: Spain)
  4. Andas en mi cabeza (Chino y Nacho: Venezuela)
  5. Hasta el amanecer (Nicky Jam: United States)
  6. Caótica Belleza (Esteman and Natalia Lafourcade: Colombia/México)
  7. Reggaetón Lento  (CNCO: Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, United States, Cuba)

B.  Favorite Artists

  1. Gente de Zona: La Gozadera, Traidora, Bailando)
  2. Juanes (Fuego, Nada valgo sin tu amor, Segovia, Bandera de manos, Minas Piedras,  No creo en el jamás, A Dios le pido, La Patria Madrina with Lila Downs, Tu Enemigo with Pablo Lopez)
  3. Camila (Todo cambió, Mientes, Lágrimas)
  4. Il Volo (Grande Amore, Más que amor, La falta de tu Mirada)
  5. La Santa Cecilia (ICE, La Calaverita, Strawberry Fields Forever)
  6. Gaby Moreno (Ave que emigra, Guatemorfosis, El Sombrerón,Quizás, quizás, quizás )
  7. Nicky Jam (El Perdón with Enrique Iglesias, Hasta el amanecer)

C.  Themes

  1. Narcoviolencia:  Lágrimas (Camila),  México Instituto Mexicano del Sonido, Have you heard (Ceci Bastida)
  2. Inmigración: Ice (La Santa Cecilia), Welcome to America (Lecrae), Wake me up (Aloe Blacc), Ave que emigra (Gaby Moreno), Tu Enemigo (Pablo López and Juanes), Strawberry Fields Forever (La Santa Cecilia)
  3. Social Issues/Awareness: Casas de cartón (Los Guaraguao and also the version by Marco Antonio Solís), Segovia (Juanes), La Patria Madrina (Juanes and Lila Downs), Bandera de manos (Juanes), A Dios le pido (Juanes), Tu Enemigo (Pablo López and Juanes), Minas Piedras (Juanes), Gangsta (Kat Dahlia), Así Crecí (Farruko), Los Caminos de la vida (Los Diablitos), Duele Demasiado (David Bisbal), Yo soy yo (Ozuna)
  4. Food: No tengo dinero (Maffio), Learn Spanish Food Vocabulary (Basho and Friends), all of the Inca Kola commercials by Ñam Ñam Boys, Love you more than tacos (Carne Cruda)
  5. Inspiration/goals: Creo en mí (Natalia Jiménez), No me doy por vencido (Luis Fonsi), No creo en el jamás (Juanes), Vivir mi vida (Marc Anthony),Caótica Belleza (Esteman and Natalia Lafourcade), Puede Ser (Fonseca), Celebra tu vida (Axel), Caótica Belleza (Esteman and Natalia Lafourcade)
  6. Love: Tengo tu love (Sie7e), No tengo dinero (Maffio), Nada valgo sin tu amor (Juanes), Quizás (Enrique Iglesias), Más que Amor (Il Volo), Grande Amore (Il Volo), Llorando se fue (Cuarteto Continental), Mi princesa (Victor Muñóz), Me equivoqué (CD9), Mientes (Camila),  Bulería (David Bisbal), Todo cambió (Camila), El Perdón (Nicky Jam and Enrique Iglesias), Como te atreves (Morat), Nada (DVCCIO and Leslie Grace),  Caminar de tu mano Río Roma, Andas en mi cabeza (Chino y Nacho), Duele el corazón (Enrique Iglesias), Sofía (Álvaro Soler)
  7. Popular “Pop” songs:  Hasta el amanecer (Nicky Jam), La Gozadera (Marc Anthony and Gente de Zona), Duele el corazón (Enrique Iglesias), El Mismo Sol (Álvaro Soler), Sofía (Álvaro Soler), Nada (DVCIO and Leslie Grace), Paraíso (DVCIO), Reggaetón Lento (CNCO), Andas en mi cabeza (Chino y Nacho),  Bailar (Deorro with Elvis Crespo), Soy yo (Bomba Estéreo), Vivir mi vida (Marc Anthony), Fuego (Juanes), Bailando (Enrique Iglesias, Gente de Zona y Descemer Bueno)

D.  Songs I haven’t mentioned….don’t fit neatly into a category….

  1.  Feliz Navidad (Tito el Bambino)
  2. Mamacita Dónde está Santa Claus
  3. A la nanita, nana (Cheetah Girls)
  4. Tumbas, Tumbas (children’s song)
  5. Me voy, me voy Vazquez Sounds
  6. El Sombrerón (Gaby Moreno)
  7. La Llorona various versions but especially Dakota Romero
  8. Pura Vida (Percance)
  9. Vuelves (Sweet California with DC9)
  10. Stand by me (Prince Royce)
  11. Aire (Leslie Grace and Maluma)

E.  Endlessly requested….songs that my students request over and over and over again…..

  1. La Gozadera
  2. Sofía
  3. Andas en mi cabeza
  4. El Mismo Sol
  5. Nada (DVCIO/Leslie Grace)
  6. Hasta el amanecer (Nicky Jam)
  7. Vivir mi vida (Marc Anthony)
  8. Gangsta (Kat Dahlia)
  9. Bailar (for Baila Viernes) (Deorro/Elvis Crespo)
  10. Limbo (for Baila Viernes)  (Daddy Yankee)
  11. Stand by me (Prince Royce)
  12. Lágrimas (Camila)
  13. Mientes (Camila)
  14. Segovia (Juanes)
  15. Bulería (David Bisbal)
  16. Pura Vida (Percance)
  17. Me equivoqué (CD9)

I could continue to categorize music that we used last year that resonated with many of my students, but I think that this is already overwhelming.  Please forgive me for not linking all of the music with the videos…it would have taken so much time and I know that google is your friend 🙂 I hope that it is pretty obvious that the musical tastes of my students run across many genres, artists, and regions.  This has been an awesome reflection for me.  I hope that it may help someone else.  Also, I would love to hear your favorites….who knows what “top” song for 2017 you might be sharing?

One last thing……..Artists that I would like for my students to grow to appreciate

  1. Carlos Vives: probably one of my all time favorite artists.  I love just about everything that he sings but I haven’t managed to interest many of my students in his music!?
  2. Ha-Ash: this duo from Louisiana fascinates me
  3. Río Roma
  4. Los Ángeles Azules

Frida and Caótica Belleza

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!

Esperanza…..4th time!

This is the 4th year that I have used the TPRS Storytelling novel, Esperanza (Carol Gaab) with Spanish III as the first novel of the year.  Although it may sound ridiculous, I am loving this novel more than ever! However, the point of this post is not to detail all of the things that I am doing the same as well as differently. Rather, I am going to share, once again, a favorite song that I use with the novel and the updates that I have done with it.  The song is Ave que emigra by Gaby Moreno (from Guatemala).

The previous three years the song was a hit with most of the students in my classes, but this year it became a guiding piece of pre-teaching as well as a continuing presence during the novel.  Additionally, there is a new Gaby Moreno song out called Guatemorfosis that will provide a hopeful focus as we finish the novel.

This year, in conjunction with my “Intro to Guatemala” cultural component, I used a story that I wrote that was based on the song.  We started this one the very first day of our Guatemala study.  I literally used the lyrics that Gaby Moreno wrote in the song to create the story, incorporating some of them directly into the story.  The results were wonderful. I spent 2 days with the story prior to introducing the song. Here is the story: ave-que-emigra-reading-2. The first activity with the actual song is to watch about a minute 10 seconds of the video, just checking what they see.  We briefly talk about the images that they have seen. ave-1  We then listen to the first part of the song, putting the first 7 lines in order. After that, we talked about what those lyrics meant. This year, there was no need to elaborate on new vocabulary or to explain what “Guate” was. The ave-2students knew exactly what the lyrics were saying because of the story that we had read.  Students answered some basic questions about the singer and the song, completed a simple cloze, worked with synonyms and antonyms, and did a personal reflection about what they thought the ave-3title of the song meant and what it might mean in terms of the novel that were going to be reading. We also did a partner ordering of the song lyrics on another day, using big sentence strips on cardstock. An additional homework assignment was to illustrate their choice of three lines of the song. I brought the song back again in chapter 4, as the family prepares to leave for Chiapas (we spent quite some time on Chiapas and its’ relationship historically with Guatemala/Mexico), using an interview with Gaby, a close look at the lyrics (especially Cansados de estar corriendo    En tiempos de cacería ) and the official video for the first time.

I was so excited this summer to discover that Gaby, as part of a Pepsi campaign in Guatemala, had released a new song. There is an entire site devoted to Guatemorfosis: El cambio #YosoyGuatemoforsis, with many stories from people in Guatemala who are creating change for the country.  The song is a HUGE hit in my classes. The kids love the music and her voice.  It is a really catchy tune! I have not yet worked with the lyrics with the classes yet since I want to keep this as an end activity when they know that the family has made it to the United States. I will use the song to bring the focus to present day Guatemala and the hopeful state of mind that is beginning to emerge after the decades of Civil War and the troubling years after that. One activity that I know I will use once the students have learned the lyrics will be this matching activity guatemoforsis-through-images. I will run off sets of the pictures for groups of two. They will be cut and placed in a baggie.  I will play the song and the students will arrange the pictures to go with the lyrics of the song. There will be other activities, I just haven’t gotten to that point yet!

The song is so new that the lyrics are not available on line yet, so here they are, to the best of my ability (which means there may be errors!):

Hay un camino que nos trajo hasta aquí
No conoce las fronteras esta pasion dentro de mi
Es anhelo el que me empuja cada nuevo amanecer
Con mis temores y ilusiones y los restos de ayer
uuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh
La esperanza nos acompaña
Con ella nada nos puede detener
Yo de tu mano
Tu de la mía
No hay nada que temer
Y río y bailo
Está en mis venas
Y libre sueño
Yo pertenezco aquí

Quién sabe
lo que el mañananos quisiera regalar
Hoy es todo lo que tengo
Y lo voy a atesorar
Poniendo en manifiesto cuanta luz puedo irridiar
Y ser feliz es el remedio
Que todo lo pueden mejorar
Y río y bailo
Está en mis venas
Y libre sueño
Yo pertenezco aquí
Y río y bailo
Está en mis venas
Y libre sueño
Hasta el final seguiré

 

My tentative plan for 2016 – 2017

rtss-475x267WOW!!! This is year 38 for me…….and it still feels brand new! This will be my eighth full year without a specific textbook, and my fifth “full on” CI intentional year (I was transitioning for several years from the grammar based, vocabulary list laden curriculum). Like so many other bloggers, (here are a few of them Allison Weinhold, Dustin Williamson, Kristy Placido,), I thought I would also share what I plan on teaching this year. Our school year is divided into 4 marking terms, with each class between 45 – 50 minutes in length.

Spanish IV

Term 1

  1.  I will kick the year off with some great plans from Carrie Toth, using Atrévete . We will take about 4 days to go through this material, break for Labor Day and come back ready to plunge into the school year.
  2. La Llorona de Mazatlán by Katie Baker. This will be my 4th time teaching it; it has always been a popular novel and I have blogged about it extensively. My students become entranced by the legend, the music and all of the additional cultural aspects. They also really enjoy the “teenage love interest” in the story, although the ending always makes them mad.
  3. Día de los Muertos with some of the elements from this unit a few years ago.
  4. El Arte de Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and, to a lesser extent, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. I’ve done some considerable blogging about this unit in the past. This will be the 7th time in this unit that has undergone a lot of change since it’s inception. It is now heavier on Frida/Diego and Mexican history, with less time for Picasso and Dali. This year I am excited to be adding the novel Frida by Kristy Placido for the first time.

Term 2

  1.  The novel Frida will carryover into Term 2.
  2. La Comida de México y Perú (and Argentina if there is time) I’ve been teaching this unit for 5 years and it is always a favorite. The original inspiration for this unit came from Kara Jacobs.  Great music such as Mole by Lila Downs, the Cuy ads and songs from Peru as well as the Ñam Ñam Boys and the Anita/Beto ads for Inca Kola.
  3. Las Metas y los Sueños, an important “pre” unit prior to diving into the heaviest, most intense unit. I love this unit as my students explore their own goals and dreams and compare and contrast them with the stories of others (both famous and ordinary). I find that this unit is an exceptionally creative unit for them. Here is an example of what it looked like this past year. It does change from year to year, depending on the current fame of some individuals. The music for this unit is great, with past favorites including Vivir mi vida, No me doy por vencido, Creo en mi, La lista, No creo en el jamas and Celebra la vida.

Term 3

  1.  Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha 13 (anonymous) This will be the third time with this novel and it has been a compelling read the past two years.  Along with a background unit on the Civil War in El Salvador, the movie Voces Inocentes and parts of Romero, this is an eye opening, thought provoking novel that my students invest in heavily. It helps that they have just finished exploring their own hopes, goals and dreams as they look at the lives of the characters in the novel. The music in this unit includes Casas de Cartón, Gangsta, part of Razones (Bebe), Tu cárcel, Adentro, Nada Valgo sin tu amor and Así crecí.
  2. Immigration is always a “hot topic” unit where students are challenged by what they think they know and believe.  We start with the Statue of Liberty, it’s history, poem and music and go from there. The music in this unit includes Welcome to America, American Oxygen, Wake Me Up, This Land is Your Land (bilingual version), Bandera, ICE, Pa’l Norte, La Bamba, and La Bamba Rebelde, Movies include 30 Days and Which Way Home.

Term 4

  1. Immigration will carry over into Term 4.
  2. Narcoviolencia, which I’ve been teaching for 5 years (with original inspiration from Kara Jacobs and Cristina Zimmerman), is an ever evolving unit based on what is happening in Mexico with the violence, cartels, drug warfare, kidnappings and repression, etc. I always base the length of this unit on how much more “heavy” topics my students can continue to benefit from and grow. This past year we were only in it about two and a half weeks because we had spent so much time with Vida y Muerte and Immigration. The music in this unit, however, really draws them in: Lágrimas, La Patria Madrina, Have You Heard, México (Instituto Mexicano del Sonido) and La Llorona (43 Lágrimas) which brings us full circle back to the beginning of the year.
  3. If I have funding, I would like to purchase La Guerra Sucia or Felipe Alou.  If not, I will probably do the novel that I wrote 2 years ago called Amigos, Abrazos y Aventura: Argentina.

Spanish III

Term 1

  1.  The year begins with a short 4 day unit from Carrie Toth, actually from a colleague named Paige,  about the Cactus and the Bank. I also plan on using La Persona Especial (as developed by Bryce Hedstrom) with these students, who are all new to me and I’m new to them. I will adjust the questions to a Spanish III level.
  2. Esperanza by Carol Gaab, one of my favorites! Such a rich story with so many cultural components. For me, I think it is the perfect way to ease my Spanish III students  into my style of teaching without any pressure. The story is written essentially in present tense, but lends itself beautifully to past tense retelling. It will also be their first experience with my pretty intense focus on and inclusion of music to not just enhance what we are doing, but to highlight, illustrate and teach. Ave que emigra is the first focus song of the year.
  3. A brief, 2 week Puerto Rico and food unit with stories written by me and my colleague, Megan Matthews. This is a good, light hearted unit and serves as a nice break from the seriousness of Esperanza.

Term 2

  1.  Día de los Muertos with the possible inclusion of Tumba by Mira Canion, dependent on funding.
  2. A short unit on clothing with stories written by me and my colleague, Megan Matthews.
  3. A longer 3 week unit on geography, animals and weather with stories written by me. This unit takes us to the Baltimore Aquarium for a field trip! We skipped this unit last year, and I really missed it.  It will be interesting to see what changes are made to it this time around.
  4. Robo en la noche by Kristy Placido begins as we return from Christmas. Teaching it for the fourth time, this is a great book with so many additional elements with geography, environment, and just fabulous Costa Rica. A favorite song for many students is Pura Vida by Percance.

Term 3

  1.  Robo en la noche continues into Term 3.
  2. Jai-Alai, flamenco, music and sports from Spain come next, preceding the next novel Bianca Nieves y los siete toritos. Two favorite songs from this unit are Buleria (David Bisbal) and Dame Vida (Huecco).

Term 4

  1. Bianca Nieves y los siete toritos by Carrie Toth  I am looking forward to teaching this again and not feeling the pressure of the end of the year creeping up. I plan to use the Ferdinand movie again as well as Blood Brothers. I love the fact that Carrie got the present subjunctive into this book so naturally. Last year the students really enjoyed the bullfighting elements that easily flow from the novel.  They also LOVED Reader’s Theater with this novel, so much that I worried about using it too much!
  2. Colombia and Juanes is a unit that I have been teaching in some form since 2005, and it has really undergone quite the transformation over the years. In its’ early years it also included the Dominican Republic (Juan Luis Guerra) and Venezuela (Carlos Baute) and was called my Social Awareness Unit. As the unit grew, it just became too large, so it got trimmed to just Colombia and Juanes. It is possibly my favorite subject material of all time to teach and was definitely the first unit that initiated my gradual conversion to CI.  I love just about all of Juanes’ music, but the music with social messages is just phenomenal.  In this unit we study the Civil War in Colombia, which just might be over (finally), the impact of drugs, Pablo Escobar, landmines and Juanes’ quest for peace, not just for Colombia, but for the world. I use the movie Los Colores de las Montañas, a beautiful movie. I love the stories that I’ve written for this unit and I love the impact that the unit has on students. On the end of the year evaluation/assessment of the course most students list this unit as their favorite, year after year. I have never taught it as the last unit of the year before, but I want to be able to give Bianca Nieves the chance to not be rushed this year.

So, these are the plans. But, as all plans go, they are subject to change and evolution.  Time will tell!