Even more music for Vida/Muerte

I have blogged about the superb novel, Vida y muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha 13 from @fluencymatters four other times with the most recent post just from last month.  So how, you might ask, would I still have even more music to add to the novel?  Blame it on Sebastián Yatra…..

With his new song “No hay nadie más“, released on January 25, 2018 and already with 1 billion views, we have the perfect song for the relationship between our narrador and Analía.  When I heard it for the first time, three weeks ago, I literally said, out loud, “Oh my gosh! This song is incredible!” and I knew that I absolutely had to use it despite the fact that we already have SO much focus music with this unit (Casas de Cartón, Gangsta, Los Rakas, Así Crecí, Adentro, Nada Valgo sin tu amor and Princesa).

My only other decision came down to timing, and I admit I was a bit torn. Should I introduce the song after we have read about what happens to Analía or do I introduce it before, incorporating some foreshadowing?  I chose the latter.  Consider the opening verses of the song:

Recuerdo aquel día   ( I remember that day)  (the day he went to collect the payment from the viejita at the fruit stand)
Como si fuera hoy     (As if it were today)
No hay nada como ella  (There’s nothing like her)
Ni siquiera me encontró   ([she] didn’t even try to find me) (Analía arrived, strongly defending her grandmother and, unknowingly, opening the closed heart of the narrator)

Recuerdo todavía   (I still remember)
La vez que la besé    (the time I kissed her)  (their hidden dates, the trip to the beach, the intense, revealing conversation they had)
Fue mi primer amor   (It/she was my first love)
Y ahora escribo su canción   (And now I write her song)

Once we had read Chapter 6 “Mi Trabajo”, without telling my students that we were working with a new song, we started some prework.  I went through the lyrics and selected what I thought were, a) key phrases and, b) words that might interfere with comprehension.  We started with the key phrases first, making sure everyone had 100% comprehension of them.  I gave them about 10 minutes to incorporate as many as they could into a poem, in the shape of a heart: the document Chap 6 and Chap 7 No hay nadie masno hay 2

El narrador tiene 16 años y asiste a un colegio. También tiene trabajo. Pero, más importante, hay una muchacha. ??

Escribe frases, en forma de poema, usando las palabras en el banco de palabras.  Puede cambiar la forma de las palabras si quieres.

 

Recuerdo               Primer amor                La besé                 Inexplicable                 Cuidarte

Mil razones         Te voy a extrañar              Soledad                 Terminar                 Nadie más

Surprisingly, all of the students in all three classes plunged right into the writing.  After 10 minutes, they shared with their pod groups (the groups of 4 in the room), and then volunteered with the whole class.  We listened, did some “pop up” grammar, and basically, really enjoyed what they had written.  There were serious poems, funny poems, love poems, and more.  They really wanted to keep going, but that was day one.
The second day, after reading chapter 7 “Mi novia”,  we worked with the words that I felt could prevent some comprehension. Those words were:

Ni siquiera: not even, didn’t even
Todavía: still
Inigualable: incomparable
Cela: watches over
Disimular: hide
Extrañar: miss
Tempestad: storm
Aunque: although, even though
Renunciar: give up
Melancolía: melancholy
Lágrimas: tears
Risas: laughter

We went through the list and I then asked them to categorize those words as verbs, nouns or adjectives/adverbs/other.  WHAT AN ACTIVITY! I was not prepared for the discussion that followed as they discovered that there were words that could potentially go in more than one category and even more, that it depended on how the word was being used in English.  Example: still….. was it “She stilled the class with a glance” or “still water” or “I still don’t get this”. We had heated discussions in each class about “melancholy”…several didn’t understand the word in English and many wanted to argue that it was only an adjective. We had great discussion over the many ways to say watch/look/see and hide, in Spanish, and we even had some more “pop up” grammar as we worked , such as with the word tempestad….why is it feminine (other than they felt it sounded better that way!).  I then had them create sentences that used more than one of the words at a time, and what sentences they created!!! They did not want to stop sharing! This was a wonderful activity for my students and I believe that working with the two sets of “lyric” words greatly enhanced their subsequent comprehension and reaction to the song.

Finally, on day three, I told them that the words were part of a new song.  I did NOT use the music video; I merely gave them a traditional cloze activity.  We no more got through the first two verses when I had students in each class commenting on the sweetness of the lyrics and groaning (remember, they do not know that Analía is going to die) that the overall sad tone of the music better not mean something bad! We worked our way through the song in stages, the first two verses, the chorus, the next two verses and then for the last round of the chorus (there were no cloze blanks), I asked them to find the 4 ways the song was lyrically different from the other choruses, and asked why that might be. Each class reacted identically:  they loved it, they couldn’t get enough of it, they had to sing it.  Also, they began to question what WAS going to happen to Analía (was it going to be Analía who would be “watching over” the narrator….from where?) and tying the lyrics about how the person in the song changes the life of the singer to what Analía is doing for the narrator. Finally, I let them watch the entire music video, which is quite simple, but much may be read into it.  To reinforce how strong their reaction to this song was: I introduced the song last Tuesday, the students proposed their “favorite” songs for March madness on Thursday, voted on them on Friday…….No hay nadie más was in the top tier of vote getters!

On the fourth page of the document for the song, is an activity that I will use to open class on Monday: matching pictures/drawings to specific text from Chapter 7 and lines from the song. no hay 1

This one song is a classic illustration of how music contains the power to connect…..text with music, text with culture, text with emotions, text with our own identities.  It literally is the perfect song for the pivotal events in Chapters 6 – 9.

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Introducing Vida y Muerte with Voces Inocentes y Casas de Cartón…..again

coverThis makes my 4th year with the superb novel Vida y Muerte en la MS 13 from Fluency Matters.  The novel is the anchor in my largest unit of Spanish IV that encompasses goals and dreams, El Salvador, Voces Inocentes, the novel and Immigration. For the past 3 years, it has been the “favorite” unit of my Spanish IV classes in the end of the year evaluation.  Each year, as is the case with any unit, I have added new materials, deleted others and revised many.  After an introduction to El Salvador and it’s troubled history of the past 80 years or so (thanks to a spectacular presentation from Kara Jacobs), I have used the movie Voces Inocentes.  Focusing on a featured song from that movie, Casas de Cartón, the comprehension of the lyrics of the song significantly increase the emotional connection of the students as well as their awareness of what the Civil War in El Salvador really meant.  Two years ago, I discovered Mike Peto’s brilliant post and activities for the song.  This year due to snow and mandated state testing, the introduction to the novel has been extended.  Therefore, I have had the opportunity to create a very simple introduction to the song and an equally simple, but powerful addition to the study of the song. Below I have detailed how I began the El Salvador/Voces Inocentes part of the unit this year.

Day 1

  1.  Brief talk/discovery of what students know about El Salvador
  2. Kara Jacob’s presentation for El Salvador (I stopped on the slide for Casas de Cartón) with some additional information that I created
  3. I created this presentation to introduce the song Casas de Cartón
  4. Watched/listened to the first 1:42 seconds 
  5. Completed a simple cloze Casas de cartón 2018 (Spanish and English)

Day 2

  1.  Class started with FVR. Students read novels of their choice for 10 – 14 minutes twice a week in Spanish IV.
  2. Grouped students (2-3) with questions on cardstock related to the El Salvador presentation from day 1 (Essential Question #1).  Students answered the questions in the small groups, and then the whole class quickly reviewed/clarified together.
  3. In groups of two with a laptop, used Mike Peto’s matching activity for about 5 minutes.
  4. I created an extended visual presentation of El Mozote, based on Kristy Placido’s La Mascare de El Mozote. (Please do not ask me to share, Kristy’s work is worth the money! I can share what I added, but not the original work.)  Students worked in groups of two to read through the presentation and explore the visual presentation.  They spent about 10 minutes doing this. At the end, we reviewed as a class what they considered to be the most important facts that they learned.
  5. Based on an idea from Martina Bex, the groups of two students created a 25 word summary in Spanish of what they considered to be the most important details.

Day 3

  1.  I used 2 parts of a study guide from Rachel Hawkes to introduce the movie, Voces Inocentes.  However, when I looked for that guide again online, it did not contain the 2 parts that I used! I suppose it has been updated? The parts that I had are a cloze for the trailer of the movie and an additional cloze that focused on preterit verbs from the trailer. We did both of these prior to watching the actual trailer, and then confirmed our answers when we watched.
  2. Working in groups of two, I gave each group lyric strips (on cardstock) to Casas de Cartón in English and Spanish.  With the music playing softly in the background, they matched the Spanish to the English…..they were not putting them in order. The strips were all randomly ordered. Casas de carton matching
  3. Students then removed the English lyric strips and then put the Spanish lyrics in order as best as they could remember them.
  4. I played the song for them (first 1:42 seconds) and they revised the order as necessary.
  5. With the strips now in the correct order, they looked at the Spanish strips and read through them in English.  Hopefully, this additional background work will make the song even more powerful when we hear it for the first time in the movie.
  6. We briefly went through an introduction (on SMART) to the movie, using these slides (the vocabulary slide is from a larger group of words on quizlet) : Voces 1

Voces 2.PNGVoces 3

7.  We watched the first 20 minutes of Voces Inocentes (in Spanish)

Day 4 (this coming week)

  1.  We will use Mike Peto’s concentration game for Voces Inocentes
  2. We will complete a post viewing review of day 1, using some of the slides from the day 3 presentation and additional comprehension questions.  This will be done in small groups.
  3. We will watch an additional 20 – 25 minutes of the movie.

More to come…….

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.