Adding to the wealth of resources for Felipe Alou

Although the fluencymatters novel, Felipe Alou by Carol Gaab, has been available for years, this is my first time using it. Fortunately, there are many, many generous bloggers who have shared their resources, supplementing the useful teacher’s guide that is available from fluencymatters.   I am particularly indebted to Dustin Williamson, Cindy Hitz , Martina Bex , Wesley Hilliard, Nelly Hughes and Allison Weinhold. To share the wealth, and to pay it back or forward, I’m going to quickly list a few things that I’ve adapted or created to go with the novel to date.

  1.  As suggested by several teachers, after working with the Mirabal Sisters and In the Time of the Butterflies, we moved into baseball, and made our own gloves.  First we did this reading Guantes de Cartón rev. 2018 rev, which I adapted from Wesley Hilliard, and then we made our gloves and played.  FUN!
  2. Chapter 1:  A “guante” wordle with qualities that may or not be reflected in a leader.  Students have 2 different colored markers and highlight positive/negative qualities. guante leader wordle guante
  3.  Chapter 3:  Story cups tower (an idea that I got somewhere….I’m sorry, I don’t remember from whom!!! Now I know…..Nelly Hughes via Arianne Dowd!!!) Story cups tower    Morir soñando, idea from Cindy Hitz. Most liked it, but as you can see, not all! 

    Reread chap 3 and find the false statements, based on a Martina Bex original idea. Reread chap 3 find the false statements     

  4. Repaso of 1 -3 Dictation, prior to moving to chapter 4.  I read each of the sentences several times as they wrote.  I then projected the sentences for them to correct.  Homework could be illustrating a few of them.  Believe it or not, most of the students really enjoyed this activity.  Dictation repaso of chapters 1 – 3 before beginning chap 4
  5. Chapter 4:  Had students illustrate ONLY 3 important scenes for them from the chapter.  The next day that shared their drawings with a partner and described the scene.  Partner did the same.  They next found a new partner and described what they saw on THE PARTNER’S paper.  Partner did the same.  They found another partner, and this time, they wrote what the partner had drawn. Capítulo 4 Felipe llama la atención internacional
  6. Pre chapter 5   I decided before we even began the book that in addition to adding much material for Trujillo and the Mirabal sisters, we would focus on Civil Rights during the time that Felipe arrived in the U.S. and the subsequent decade.  I knew that my students were going to need that background.  I used this slide (cropped from my SMART presentation) to get them to guess the decade and what the pictures represented. civil rights intro slide I followed it with this slide: civil rights intro what do we knowWe then did some brainstorming as a class, using this slide: civil rights brainstorming The next day I put them in groups of three and gave each group a large baggie that contained the three time periods (antes de, en el medio de and después de) and many events for each category.  Their task was to sort the events into the time period they thought they belonged.  I will not lie, this was difficult for them, and after about 7 minutes we regrouped and talked about what we had for before or after.  Several days later, we tried it again with more success.  I strongly feel that it was beneficial, but that, of course, is just my opinion.  Post reading timeline and prep for Chap 5 (small version for teacher) and Post reading timeline strips BIG large version for students.  It was a LOT of work to run them on cardstock, then cut all the strips and then bag them for each group.  But, now I have them!
  7. Chapter 5   To reinforce the main points of chapter 5, I decided on 7 principal sentences and created a rebus for each one.  With one class, they had all of them at one time on their individual papers; with another class I projected them one at a time.  I think I preferred that way. Chap 5 post reading rebus rebus 1 and 2
  8. Chapter 6   Dictogloss for review that I created based on the description on 
  9. Chapter 7  Based on a GREAT idea from Cindy Hitz, I made what she called “Game Smashing”.  Here is my description, with cloze sentences and word clouds to choose from.  Chap 7 game smashing I’ve always used wordles, or word clouds for partner work, and this one uses two steps:  identifying of words with their partner, and then finding the appropriate word to finish a sentence that is projected.  I can’t upload the powerpoint, but here is what the first slide looks like after projecting the answer: word smashing example

I hope there is something here that might be useful for you and your students.  And, as always, feel free to correct or comment…..and to suggest!!

Some of you who have followed my blog for a while might be wondering where is all of the music?????  I have used SO MUCH music with this novel, and created so many activities with it that it will have a separate post…..sometime………


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…….

Goosechase: a scavenger hunt for today’s world

goosechase freeze frame2This image is a “freeze frame” mission from Bianca Nieves y los Siete Toritos by Carrie Toth, using the app Goosechase. The team pictured was recreating the scene in which El Julí  gets gored by the vicious bull, Sábado, complete with reaction from the crowd.  Does it appear that these boys were “into it?”  I think so!!!

I first read about the app Goosechase in Maris Hawkins’ blog and Arianne Dowd’s blog last May. Last week, at the iFLT 2017 conference in Denver (which I vicariously attended through Twitter), Arianne mentioned Goosechase again in conjunction with a session by Darcy Pippins and referenced my use of the app. tweet

Since I had posted quite a few of my students’ completed missions from the last few weeks of the school year on Twitter and Facebook, they suggested I might blog about the experience.  Additionally, I participated in a small part of a 10 day cultural exchange program with 49 middle school students from China last week.  I used Goosechase with them successfully….after overcoming some language and tech hurdles!

When Maris blogged about Goosechase she was studying directions and city vocabulary; Arianne used it with the novel La Hija del Sastre.  The first time that I used it was with the novel that I wrote called Amigos, Abrazos, Aventura: Argentina. It was the end of May, our weather had been uncharacteristically cool and rainy for weeks, the kids were “blah”, just waiting for school to be over….I needed something new and instantly engaging. Goosechase was an immediate hit with my juniors and they requested to do it again. But, as Carol Gaab frequently says, “The brain craves novelty.” so, while Goosechase is a great activity, it is ONE strategy to go into the basket with all of the other strategies! I would recommend using Goosechase perhaps once a semester, certainly no more frequently than once a marking term.  The second time I used it as one of the final activities with the novel Bianca Nieves y los Siete Toritos. Again, it proved to be an instantaneous success with my sophomores who also requested to do it again. The third time that I used it (last week) was to review all of the activities that the Chinese students had participated in over the week:  visiting Assateague, the Ward Wild Fowl Museum, the Salisbury Zoo, a K9 presentation, etc. For most of those students it was a positive, enjoyable experience, but for several, the language was not comprehensible for them.

The free app is easy to use.  Students divide into teams (or you can designate teams). One team member has the app on his/her device (phone, tablet), logs in and searches for the name of your game. Once he/she finds it, a password is entered (optional, but I used one to make sure that only my students were progressing through the Goosechase), the students determine a team name (and can upload an image if desired….some do), and the missions become visible to them.  The students can work through the missions in order or, as I did, they could randomly choose which to do first.  The teacher assigns the point values for the missions, therefore if random is an option, some students might opt to work on the higher valued missions first. Goosechase bills itself as “a scavenger hunt for the masses.” I can see how it would be an excellent tool on a field trip to a museum, neighborhood, restaurant, etc.  For me, I used it as review and reinforcement of material that we have covered….providing yet another repetition of comprehensible Spanish. I love that using the device, the students click “submit” and a video or photo is submitted in real time and I can view it as they are submitted. I can determine whether it meets the requirements and let the points remain (instantly added by the app) as stated, or delete the submission because it doesn’t meet the requirements OR add extra points if the submission is above or beyond what I expected. I love that there is a leaderboard that is being projected on my device (and that students checked frequently). There is also an activity feed, which shows the submissions in chronological order as well as a submissions page, where all submissions are gathered to be viewed in their entirety by points or by team.



The free edition of this app allows for just 5 teams, which worked fine for me. I had students make teams of 4-6 students and that covered the class.  Since I have multiple sections of each class, I just created the game two – three times, depending on how many classes.  It sounds like a lot of work, but it really took less than 3 minutes to recreate the game once it was made.  All of the mission that you create are stored in a “mission bank”, so it is merely a matter of going to the bank and clicking the missions you wish to include. There also is a master list of missions from the site itself and other users, but they aren’t really useful for me right now. Below are the missions that I used for my Argentina novel and then for Bianca Nieves.


As I’ve already stated, my students really enjoyed the activity.  They loved the novelty of it, the “escape” from the classroom, working with partners of their choosing, recreating what they had learned, and the competing to finish as much as possible in the time limit imposed upon them.  The time limit is something that you set (and can adjust as needed during the game). Once time is ended, students are no longer able to submit missions and return to class.  A colleague of mine used the Bianca Nieves Goosechase with her students and had similar success with one exception.  She had a team of boys who decided to merely goof off during the Goosechase.  This team accomplished one mission! She therefore had to “grade” the Goosechase, reflecting the fact that all other teams completed many missions to the one mission of these boys.

I would suggest that you notify staff and administration well in advance of the Goosechase activity.  Since students may be all over the school grounds during a regular class period, it helps that others understand what is happening.  It might also be advisable to have each group carry a hall pass from you, the teacher.

When I use this strategy again, I will probably try incorporating more of a “breakout” type environment, where students will need to finish missions in order and solve puzzles or riddles (upload the evidence) in order to advance in the “game.”

Below are some images from the two games.  Unfortunately, I can not upload videos to this “free” version of wordpress anymore. I wish that I could upload the speaking missions, because I was really impressed with what my students could express “off the cuff.” And I REALLY wish I could upload the videos where they sang, danced or acted out (freeze frame or actions) scenes from the novels.

I hope this helps give you a visual for this app.  I would love to know what you might do or create with it!

Bodymapping Argentina (first two), Spain

goosechas body mapping A goosechase body Arg

goosechase body mapping

Drawing Missions: food from Argentina, clothing from Bianca Nieves, ranch in Bianca Nieves, the letter A in the Argentina novel. Below those, imitating and honoring from Bianca Nieves

Setting the Stage for Bianca Nieves y los Siete Toritos (Carrie Toth)

We are beginning Bianca Nieves y los Siete Toritos by Carrie Toth very soon. It will be my second time using it and there are AWESOME resources out there for it. Check out Kara Jacobs, Carrie Toth, Cindy Hitz, Allison Weinhold, Kristy Placido and Dustin Williamson. There are also some great bullfighting resources from Elizabeth Dentlinger. I will use ideas and resources from all of these wonderfully creative people, but I’ve also created some of my own that I will share. Of course, there is also the great teacher’s guide!!!

This year, my Spanish III students have been immersed in Guatemala via Esperanza, Costa Rica via Robo en la noche and Colombia, which is my own unit which I hope to put on Teachers Pay Teachers this summer.  Since my Spanish III students have had very little exposure to Spain, I knew that I wanted to begin with a “look at Spain.” The very first thing that we did was a game about Spanish culture.  I put the students in groups of 4, gave each team a whiteboard/markers/eraser and projected questions in 4 categories.  There were 8 questions in each category and they wrote their answers to all 8 questions before we exchanged boards and checked the responses.  Each team scored a point for each correct response.  The first category is just general knowledge, the second is famous people from Spain (with their faces distorted), the third category is multiple choice cultural trivia and the fourth category was preliminary knowledge of bullfighting (they know nothing!). The power point is something that I discovered somewhere many years ago and I unfortunately no longer know where it came from. I have modified and changed it significantly, but I would still like to credit the original.  If you know, let me know! The students really enjoyed this opening activity and it was successful in triggering interest in Spain.Intro a Espana Spanish game teams 2017 short version

We next worked with a preliminary map of Spain Spain first look map 2017 and some general knowledge of Spain.  To do this, I used a lot of pictures in a SMART notebook presentation, lots of videos, and had students work with a partner in a timed activity to discover specific items (such as churros y chocolate, paella, currency, pipas, the Osbourne bull, etc.). This turned out to be a wild activity that led to enormous interest and questions from the students.  We got sidetracked quite a bit but I did not mind at all since their interest was so high. Qué sabes de España 2017 If you have access to SMART and would like to see the notebook, just email me and I will send it to you. Opening.JPG

I also introduced flamenco to them using a lectura that Kara Jacobs originally created but that I modified and added to. We looked at flamenco from a Spanish, Arabic and Hindi perspective with several videos (here are a few of the links, but not all: flamenco India ComparingComparing 2) Most of the students were very interested. Flamenco lectura 2017flamencoThis led to David Bisbal and the famous Bulería.  I created this powerpoint, David Bisbal, to introduce him. The next day we reviewed what we knew and began to work with the lyrics in a brief cloze, which of course led us to singing! Bulería David Bisbal first cloze We will continue to work with this song periodically eventually discussing the bullfight/fight imagery.

To review all of the work we had done, I made this Salad Bowl game. For directions on how to play, check Carrie’s post.  Here is a quick Assessment que sabes of what we were exploring.

This next week, a week that is destroyed by PARCC testing, we will be working with Ferdinando via Kara. I can’t start the actual novel yet because of all of the disruptions due to testing, but I can continue the front loading of information with Ferdinando and extension activities! One significant difference from last year will be that I will reserve actual discussion of the parts of the bullfight, additional readings and activities until we are at least through chapter 5 of the novel.  I’m doing this because the pre discussion of that material led my students last year to believing that we were going to immediately be immersed in bullfighting when we started the novel. Of course, that wasn’t true. This year I will spend much more time on activities from the teachers guide, particularly the Picasso plates and the fan activity as well as our own creations.

Some early chapter 1 material:

Quizzz created by Dustin Williamson


Opening Quizlet

Preguntas preguntas 2.JPGchapter 1

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.



















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.
























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.




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!

Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha….. Chapter 6 in a song

Teaching Vida y Muerte for the second time has given me more time to develop additional resources to accompany the already tremendously helpful teachers guide. I have used several songs with this book already:  Casas de Cartón (Los Guaraguao), Gangsta (Kat Dahlia), Soy Raka (Los Rakas) and Tu Cárcel (Enanitos Verdes). I used Así Crecí (Farruko y Los Menores) last year, but I have expanded it quite a bit this year.  In addition to a traditional cloze ( Asi creci Farruko cloze), we have also used an activity where the students match English lyrics that I decided were the most important to the Spanish. asi creci sentence strips in english asi

This is not the easiest of songs and I do not claim to understand all of the slang in it, but I do feel that it may accurately enhance what the narrator has gone through in his life as portrayed in the novel.  Since the narrator is nine years old in Chapter 5 and then 16 in Chapter 6, it may help to provide a background context for how he has grown up. It also serves to foreshadow the upcoming action in the novel. The next step with the song was to use a word cloud that I created with words/phrases that I had specifically selected as important for my purpose.  asi wordle picasi creci wordle

I had students work with a partner to identify all of the words/phrases in the wordle, and to briefly tell the story of the song with those words.  I then grouped them in 3-4 and gave them about 15 minutes to create a poem or rap based on those lyrics, adding anything else that we have talked about or heard in the novel.  For me, the results were pretty amazing.  I had the groups present their creations the next day, and I was very pleased with what they had done together.  Some groups wanted a “beat” playing in the background, some used jazz music with their poems, others performed without any music. One of the great things about their presentations was how engaged they were listening to the other groups….and how much they understood as the groups performed.  I absolutely know that they have added “That’s how I grew up, don’t blame me, survive, and the streets taught me to their active vocabulary. Here is an sample of their creations.  Please note that I have not done any correcting of anything.  These are their original works.

Group #1

No me culpe por mi vida
Así crecí
Caminando en la calle
Eso lo aprendí
Vio por la ventana
Escucha los disparos
Y como se mataban, estaban más que locos
Vio por la ventana
No amigos o brothers
Vio en la refri
No hay nada para comer

Group #2

No me culpe para mi destino
La calle me enseñó como sobrevivir
Los federales están locos
Así crecí
Caminando en la calle
Entre los disparos
Mirando por la ventana
Vendían drogas, armas, almas
Tengo mi pistola y diente de oro
Es el fin de nuestro canción

Grupo #3

Así crecí, así crecí
No me culpe…así crecí
Sobrevivo en las calles
Escondiendo de federales
Eso que lo aprendí
Que están locos, no mí
No me culpe….no tengo comodidades
NO es mi destino, estar con federales
Viendo de ventana
Eso que lo aprendí
Yo sobreviviré
La calle me enseño

Grupo #4

En la calle aprendí sobrevivir y si salgo vivo….
Que tú eres responsible por tu destino
Y si las personas no me creen, están locos
Las personas no me crian, agarran disparos
Y los sueños de los niños, los vendían
No me culpe por las circunstancias
Los federales me buscan pero no se enfrentan
En la calle aprendí, y salgo vivo

Grupo #5

Imaginar un mundo
Donde los federales no están locos
Donde personas están caminando
Sin miedo
Donde todos tenían bien comodidades y circunstancias
Donde puedes mirar por la ventana, no se ve muertes
Donde los niños no tenían que vender para sobrevive
Imaginar un mundo
Donde decide su propio destino
Donde no tienes que decir “Así crecí”
Imaginar un mundo
Que no es responsable para el mismo error como este mundo
Imaginar un mundo con paz

While it may sound crazy, I’m also adding Mi Princesa (Victor Munoz) for chapter 7, when Analía becomes the girlfriend.  I will use the subjunctive in the song as pop up grammar and have students create sentences that they would want in a boyfriend/girlfriend (Quiero que mi novio/novia), and also for what the narrator and Analía want.