Locura de marzo 2018

My students have been looking forward to March since we finished the December commercial madness from Dustin Williamson. Also, for many of my Spanish IV students, this is their 4th time with a “madness” activity (I taught many of them last year in Spanish III)!  And, for that reason, I promised them that I would allow them to produce half of our song entries.  While I already knew that I have many students who LOVE Latin music and maintain Spanish playlists on their devices, I was not prepared for the sheer volume of their suggestions. We had to vote from their  list to get it narrowed down to their top 10 choices….and it wasn’t easy!  For some of them, it was sheer agony!  I gave each student 8 votes…..they could vote for 8 songs and even then it was difficult as they tried to weigh which song they like better than another!  What was even more satisfying for me, in addition to their passionate pleas about what needed to be included, was the diversity of their selections.  Here is their original list that they submitted to me:

Vote for NO MORE than EIGHT (8). If you vote for more than 8, your votes will not count.
_____ 1. Me Soltaste (Jesse y Joy)
_____ 2. Desencuentro (Residente from Calle 13)
_____ 3. Gangsta (Kat Dahlia)
_____ 4. No hay nadie más (Sebastián Yatra)
_____ 5. Robarte un beso (Sebastián Yatra y Carlos Vives)
_____ 6. Súbeme la radio (Enrique Iglesias y Gente de Zona)
_____ 7. Dile que tú me quieres (Ozuna)
_____ 8. Mientes (Camila)
_____ 9. Vivir mi vida (Marc Anthony)
_____ 10. Sofía (Álvaro Soler)
_____ 11. Sigo extrañádote (J. Balvin)
_____ 12. Mi gente (J. Balvin y Willy William)
_____ 13. Cómo yo (Silvestre Dangond y San Luis)
_____ 14. Livin’ la vida loca (Ricky Martin)
_____ 15. Corazón Espinado (Maná y Santana)
_____ 16. La Bamba (Richie Valens)
_____ 17. Me Equivoqué (CD9)
_____ 18. El Ganador (Nicky Jam)
_____ 19. El Amante (Nicky Jam)
_____ 20. La Bicicleta (Shakira y Carlos Vives)
_____ 21. Cásate conmigo (Nicky Jam y Silvestre Dangond)
_____ 22. Échame la culpa (Luis Fonsi y Demi Lovato)
_____ 23. El Perdón (Enrique Iglesias y Nicky Jam)
_____ 24. Lumbra (Cali y El Dandee)
_____ 25. Animal (Álvaro Soler)
_____ 26. El Mismo Sol (Álvaro Soler)
_____ 27. Como la flor (Selena)
_____ 28. Bailando (Enrique Iglesias, Gente de Zona, y December Bueno)
_____ 29. Soy yo (Bomba Estereo)
_____ 30. Caótica Belleza (Esteman)
_____ 31. Me enamoré (Shakira)
_____ 32. Chantaje (Shakira y Maluma)
_____ 33. La Cucaracha (traditional)
_____ 34. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Santana)
_____ 35. Reggaetón Lento (CNCO)
_____ 36. Hey DJ (CNCO y Yandel)
_____ 37. La Gozadera (Marc Anthony y Gente de Zona)
_____ 38. Cuando me enamoro (Juan Luis Guerra y Enrique Iglesias)
_____ 39. A Dios le pido (Juanes)
_____ 40. La La La (Shakira)
_____ 41. La luz (Juanes)
_____ 42. Despacito (Luis Fonsi/Daddy Yankee)
_____ 43. Odio (Romeo Santos/Drake)
_____ 44. Fruta Fresca (Carlos Vives)
_____ 45. Se preparó (Ozuna)
_____ 46. El Farsante (Ozuna/Romeo Santos)
_____ 47. Dura (Daddy Yankee)
_____ 48. Odio por Amor (Juanes)

Many of the songs were songs that we had been introduced to in class, either as the “entry to class music” or accompaniments to our units; however, several others are songs that they have discovered themselves…..because they really like Latin music.  The only artist that I told them was off limits for ANY song was Bad Bunny, and I refused to include any of his music on their list.  I’m happy to say that I didn’t have to make that choice with Despacito because even though it was wildly popular last year, it didn’t make the cut for their top music!!

The top 10 songs, according to their votes, make up one half of the bracket and my own 10 choices complete the brackets.  I put all of their choices on one side (the left side below), and mine on the other (the right side).  I had just as tough a time choosing as they did.  I’m still not completely happy with my 10 choices and really wish I could add at least 4 more.  However, there are not enough days in March to cover more than the 20 songs.  Here are the brackets as they stand today:

Locura de marzo 2018 brackets

Still in the running for me, and maybe replacing Tu foto (Ozuna) and one of the HA-ASH songs are:

CNCO – Mamita
Nuestro Secreto – Carlos Vives
La Estrategia Cali y el Dandee
Princesa – Río Roma/CNCO
Esperándote – MTZ Manuel Turizo
Un poco loco/Recuérdame from Coco
Danza de Gardenias – Natalia Lafourcade

This year I will follow basically the same plan as last year:

  1.  Introduce 2 songs at the beginning of the period.  I use just a minute or minute thirty seconds of the song, making sure I include the chorus.  I do use the music video (unless it is entirely inappropriate), so for some songs, I have to be selective in which parts I choose.
  2. I give them a brief intro to the artists, where they are from, etc. and we look at the meaning of the chorus.
  3. Then we vote.  The whole process does not take more than 5 minutes initially.
  4. This year, I will do 2 songs from “their selections” one day and the next day I will do 2 songs from “my selections”.
  5. When we are ready for round two, I will use lyric videos for the songs moving on.  We will establish more meaning for those songs. For this stage, we probably spend about 7 – 8 minutes with the songs.
  6. When we are ready for round three, I will use the original music video and we will sing the choruses.  (This is NOT to say that we haven’t been singing all along….)  For this stage, we will be spending close to 10 minutes with the songs.
  7. For the final round, we will look at the lyrics again and watch the entire official video (as may be appropriate).

As Carrie Toth posted a few days ago, I don’t do anything fancy with the brackets.  I print the song titles/artists on card stock and devote an entire board to posting them.  Each day I put the final vote tally beside the card stock, and move the winning song over to the next bracket.

I’m looking forward to looking at the brackets of many of your classes!  A huge, grateful THANK YOU to @spanishplans for creating this hugely popular activity!


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 classroomtapas.com 
  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…….

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


  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.



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!

The songs that anchor my units

ship-anchor-red-clipart-1  I have written so many times about music and my teaching.  I literally have been using music in my classes for the past 37 years!  Yes, I know, I’m ancient. What doesn’t ever get ancient is the music.  This post is going to be a bit different.  I’m trying to consolidate; instead of writing a post about a specific unit I am going to simply list all of my units and the music that anchors each of them.  There is NOT ONE unit that doesn’t begin with music, not one. Music is always part of my “hook”.  It may not be the only hook, but it always is one of the hooks and the music “plays” on throughout the entire unit.

Spanish III

  1. Esperanza, the novel, written by Carol Gaab

2. La comida (Puerto Rico), story and unit developed by Sharon Birch

3. La ropa, story and unit developed by Sharon Birch and Megan Matthews

4. Robo en la noche, the novel, written by Kristy Placido

5. Colombia, Juanes y Los Colores de la Montaña, stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch

  • A Dios le pido, Juanes
  • La Historia de Juan, Juanes
  • Segovia, Juanes
  • Minas Piedras, Juanes
  • Sueño Libertad, Juanes
  • Bandera de Manos, Juanes
  • Odio por amor, Juanes
  • La Tierra, Juanes
  • No queremos minas, Yerson y Stuard
  • Los Caminos de la vida, Los Diabolitos

6. Bianca Nieves y los siete toritos, the novel, written by Carrie Toth

Spanish IV

  1. La Llorona, the novel, written by Katie Baker

2. El Arte (Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Picasso,Dalí), stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch     I hope to add the novel, Frida, written by Kristy Placido

3. La Comida de México y Perú, stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch, original ideas from Kara C. Jacobs  and Cristina Zimmerman

4. Las Metas y los Sueños, stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch

5. La Guerra Civil en El Salvador y Voces Inocentes, stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch, original ideas from Kara C. Jacobs

6. Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha 13, the novel, anonymous

7. La Inmigración, unit developed by Sharon Birch

8. La Narcoviolencia, unit developed by Sharon Birch, original ideas from Kara C. Jacobs, Cristina Zimmerman and Zachary Jones

9. Bianca Nieves y los siete toritos, the novel, written by Carrie Toth     I taught this in Spanish III and IV this year due to some extenuating circumstances (having to pick up a 6th class in March, no more funding for a new book, etc.)  Next year I hope to have the novel Felipe Alou, Carol Gaab, here.


Lágrimas, much more than simply a song, by Camila

If you are a follower of this blog, you know that I teach with music all of the time.  I recently started teaching the Narcoviolencia unit for the fifth time.  I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Kara Jacobs and Cristina Zimmerman for everything that they have shared with me in the past and this year.  The second half of the school year with Spanish IV has been transformed in the last two years with the addition of the novel Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha. That has consequently changed the way I enter the Narcoviolencia unit.  We went from dreams and goals (right after the Christmas break) to the dreams and goals in El Salvador, via a study of their Civil War, the movie Voces Inocentes and then the novel.  This was followed, very logically, by a unit on immigration, which now leads into Narcoviolencia.  The unit this year was enhanced dramatically by two incredibly moving songs that were released in the last year and a half:  La Patria Madrina (Lila Downs and Juanes) and Lágrimas (Camila).  Kara and Cristina have created a spectacular study of La Patria Madrina (which is the second song in this unit). I am going to share how I have used Lágrimas, one of the most powerful, haunting songs I have experienced in Spanish, to make the transition from Immigration to Narcoviolencia.

This was the objective:

Students will identify the viewpoint and the perspectives in the lyrics and the video. Students will continue to add to and to refine their knowledge of immigration issues, roots, causes and impact while beginning to understand the depth of the violence in México and how it impacts the people of México and the United States.

These were the steps that I used:

Day One

  1. I made a Lágrimas with the images from the official video and inserted just the instrumental version of the song.  They did not know the title of the song. I had students watch and listen to it just once and had them react in small groups to what they had seen and how they felt.  We then shared as a class. Disclaimer: the images are NOT MINE.  They are taken directly from the official video released by Camila.
  2. We watched a second time, completing a Lagrimas chart for ppt that listed
  • Places
  • Colors
  • People
  • Feelings
  • Verbs
  • Words they wanted to know how to say
  1. We reviewed their charts.  Working with a partner, they wrote a brief response to the question “¿Qué está sucediendo en esta presentación?” I also asked them to create a title for the song. The results were powerful and impressive: Corazón roto, Quiero quedarme pero voy a huir, Amor traicionado, Involucrado, No hay nada que decir, Dolor que me mata, Tristeza sin palabras, etc.
  2. I intended for the next step to be a “free write”, but with a partner, using the images to create sentence fragments, poetry, or a smash doodle, to express what they saw and felt. However, the discussion over what was happening in the video, and the naming of the song with the resulting discussion, just took more time than I anticipated.                                                                                                                     5.  We then watched the official video.

Day Two

  1. We completed the first cloze (Lágrimas Cloze 1 and Cloze 2) for the song.  Working with a partner or two, each group created their own translation of the lyrics.
  2. We read one of the Lagrimas article and interview about or with, Camila.
  3. We sang the song.

Day Three

  1. We completed a second cloze (Lágrimas Cloze 1 and Cloze 2) for the song.  They worked revising their own translation of the lyrics.
  2. We sang it again.
  3. Working with the lagrimas images 2 from the opening day powerpoint, they selected about five of them and captioned them with detailed sentences using rich vocabulary.

The emotional impact of this song was enormous. Most of my students absolutely loved the haunting melody, and told me that once it was in their heads, they couldn’t get it out.  The imagery from the video and the discussions that we had made Lágrimas, for us, a very fitting, somber way to enter this unit.