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!

Advertisements

My tentative plan for 2016 – 2017

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

Spanish IV

Term 1

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

Term 2

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

Term 3

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

Term 4

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

Spanish III

Term 1

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

Term 2

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

Term 3

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

Term 4

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

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

An outlet for art

art I have written extensively about using music in my classroom, especially the past two years. More infrequently I may write a post about student projects or PBT’s. However, today, day 5 of summer break, I started thinking about the past school year and what I did to help my students remember the year and to be able to appreciate what we had covered. The last week of school, I created a “year in review” presentation for both my Spanish III and Spanish IV classes. While I was not surprised by the amount of music that we had incorporated into our units and into our opening routine each day, I was surprised by the amount and variety of their expressions in art.  In my individual “end of the year” evaluation of the course, just about every single one of those 110 evaluations indicated music as a major way that they had learned Spanish and enjoyed class.  Most of them now have Spanish music in their personal playlists. Also mentioned in those evaluations was the additional learning, exploring and enjoyment that was derived from other artistic endeavors.  From Martina Bex’s “freeze frame” to Allison Weinhold’s “Baila viernes” to the creation of original songs and artwork to showcase and express what we were studying, art was everywhere.

Since I have posted many student created PBT’s from the novels that we have read (Esperanza, Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha, Robo en la noche, and La Llorona), I am going to focus on other works from this past year.

Esperanza:  Freeze Frame and the results the next day here:  Ch 4 retell period 2 Ch 4 retell period 3

 

Colombia/Juanes :Interpret a song

Bandera de Manos b1

Minas Piedras

Vida y muerte tattoos: What did the tattoo look like that Anonymous received after his first mission?

Frida: Using one of the “color me” pages available online, show me what you have learned about the life and art of Frida

Metas: Take one or more of the songs we have studied in our goals and dreams unit and interpret it for your life.  Songs were:  Vivir mi vida, Creo en mi, La lista, No me doy por vencido, and No creo en el jamas.

Narcoviolencia:  Show me, in a visual fashion, what you know about las pandillas principales in Mexico.  They used their visuals to then complete an oral assessment.  The idea was to have minimal writing on the visual, but that the visuals would help them remember items to talk about, representing what they had learned.

thumbnail_IMG_1062Cho

Robo en la noche: Choose the six most important scenes of the chapter.  In this case, they had a choice of chapters 11, 12, or 13.

Immigration: Choose two of the three principal songs in the unit to illustrate key phrases, statements, commentaries, opinions,etc. about immigration.

thumbnail_IMG_1175thumbnail_IMG_1176thumbnail_IMG_1177

Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos:

Poems:

b7

Freeze Frame

Just like I did at the end of the school year, I found myself wishing that I had taken more pictures of what they created.  It’s on my list of “things I need to do better” for next year.  I would love to learn about the “art”creations that your students have done.

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.