Cabaret, a celebration of cultures, languages and arts!

cabaretNine years ago, in 2008, I attended a world language conference in Maryland. It was in a session there that an idea was planted in my head. I wish that I could remember who the speaker was, but I don’t. She shared with us the idea of a type of talent show that featured talent in many languages.  The next year, in 2009, the first Cabaret at James M. Bennett High School took place. Indeed, it was a celebration of talent: singing, dancing, skits, poetry recitation and instrumental selections that came from a variety of languages and cultures.  Since then, we have held a Cabaret about every two years.  I feel very strongly that one of my major responsibilities as a world language teacher is to open a window on the world for my students of rural Delmarva (rural, but with a quite high immigrant population) and to build bridges leading to acceptance and understanding of other cultures. Last night, we held a Cabaret that achieved that, and I will always remember it.  It was so very special that I will cherish the warmth, the love and the good feelings for a very long time.

This year, for the first time, my committee for the Cabaret was not just world language teachers.  Instead, it was made up of me, a Latin teacher, an English teacher, two science teachers, a history teacher, a media assistant and an ELL teacher.  We began our planning the first part of January, meeting so that I could explain what was involved and then dividing the work load.  The English teacher was responsible for decorations and theme (cinco de mayo, since it was held on May 5th), the science teachers were responsible for the international desserts, the history teacher was responsible for the beverages, the ELL teacher was responsible for tickets and finances, the media assistant was responsible for publicity and the Latin teacher and I covered auditions, program, power points, school promotion (morning announcements and videos), technical needs, and stage crew. We made a phenomenal team.

We charged $4.00 a ticket, which included a beverage and their choice of an international dessert.  Additional desserts were available for $1.00.  Since our principal assisted us with some discretionary funds, we were able to make almost $600. We decided at a planning meeting in early April that the profit would be used to begin a scholarship in memory of our guidance secretary who passed away suddenly in March.

We chose two outgoing senior students to be our emcees for the evening, and they were wonderfully high energy, involving the audience from the opening minute of the show. They introduced each act with information about each performer.  There were more than 62 performers in the show, and another 25 involved in decorating, baking, serving and stage crew. The event was well attended by our students, who were polite, receptive and enthusiastic in their support of each other.  We began promptly at 7:00 and finished at 9:20, including a 20 minute intermission break for more dessert and dance (described below).  I prepared two enormous power points, one that played for 20 minutes prior to 7:00 that featured music, pictures and quotes for all languages encompassed in our show and a second power point that had a slide or two for each act, featuring lyrics or trivia about each act and performer.  We used our Clipper Galley (the cafeteria) as the venue because we would be able to eat as students performed.  The very nature of a Cabaret is an intimate gathering with food and entertainment.  By removing many tables and chairs, leaving only 24 tables with 10 chairs at each, we were able to create a very welcoming environment. We did have to add more chairs due to a higher than expected attendance.

All of this years’ acts were by student performers.  In the past, we had several faculty participants, but none this year.  Here is the First Act:

  • Song, Wilkommen from Cabaret, in German, French and English
  • Song, Dana Dana, in Arabic
  • Instrumental (flute, violin, trumpet), Santa Lucia, Italian folk song
  • Dance, BBoy, American
  • Song, Fate, Korean
  • Song, Bulleya, Hindi
  • Instrumental (clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, french horn, tuba, saxophone) Serenata, Spanish American
  • Song, La Fleur que tu m’avais jetee from Carmen, French
  • Poem recitation, Fakat al tanfus, Arabic then translated to English
  • Song, Konfie m nan De, Creole
  • Instrumental, Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Saint-Saens, French
  • Song and guitar, Malagueña, Spanish
  • Dance, Garba meets Bollywood, Hindi

Intermission featured the most popular Just Dance videos from my Spanish III Baila Viernes (Bailando, Limbo, Bailar, La Bicicleta) as well as an additional Bollywood and Korean Just Dance and a special tag team Free style by our break dancers. Intermission was an overwhelming success, with at least 50 students up dancing together in front of our giant screen.

Act II

  • Fashion show with narration and music with 17 models featuring attire from Ghana, Morocco and Algeria (all of the clothes belonged to students from Northern Africa)
  • Song, Como la flor, Spanish
  • Song, The Sound of Silence, English
  • Dance, original dance choreographed to Caótica Belleza, Spanish
  • Poem recitation, Y si el hombre, Spanish
  • Skit, Latin
  • Dance, popping animation, American
  • Song, Fotografía, Spanish
  • Dance, Bangra Bollywood, Punjabi
  • Song, O cessate di piagrarmi, Italian
  • Song, A Million Reasons, English
  • Dance, JMB Dance Team, street dance, American
  • Song with saxophone solo, At last, English

Conclusion of the Cabaret featured another 20 minutes of Just Dance videos as students were reluctant to leave and just kept asking for more! I lost track of the number of student participants (and parents) who thanked me profusely for allowing them to share their language and culture and the student audience members who said that they couldn’t wait to be participants in the next show!

The idea to embrace and celebrate our very diverse population at JMB is one that is of tremendous importance. It was more than just beautiful to watch the multitude of culture, language and art converge in our Clipper Galley, it was inspiring, and hopeful, and oh so very necessary. To present those cultures, languages and arts through song, dance, poetry and drama was more than entertaining, it was good for our hearts. I am so very, very proud of the representation of languages and cultures: Spanish, Creole, Hindi, Latin, Punjabi, Korean, Arabic, Italian, German, French, and English. Additionally, we embraced students whose cultural identity includes: the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Ghana, Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, India, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, France, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the United States. It absolutely was one of the best nights ever of my long teaching career. Watching these diverse students support each other, cheer for each other and come together at intermission to fill the “dance floor” as they danced through at least 7 Just Dance multicultural videos (and to do the same AFTER the show was over) was something that I know had to impact those in attendance. If you don’t already have such an event at your school, I would encourage you to consider doing something similar. It is so very worth it.  I will leave you with the following message that a student emailed me last night:

“Everyone was so supportive and kind and light and friendly that everyone else just couldn’t help but let their guard down and relax with them. I 100% believe that without this, without multiculturalism among the Stars and Stripes of our American flag, we would not enjoy life to the fullest extent. Whatever help you need in planning future Cabarets, I’m on board. Here’s my email. My phone number is (443) *** ****. I would hate to see people of future generations miss out on an opportunity for something as amazing as what we all witnessed tonight. ESPECIALLY considering the giant thumb known as Donald Trump, is constricting every piece of diverse culture America contains into boxes marked “over the wall, you go.” You have provided me with a window into these lives, a door into different cultures, and a way to immerse myself in all of their beauty. Thank you so much for that. Your hard work and effort really glimmered tonight, my family and I send our thanks and appreciation to you and the rest of the participants/teachers/staff.”

cabaret2

audience

fashion show

Music……my top ???

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

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

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

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

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

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

B.  Favorite Artists

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

C.  Themes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Esperanza…..4th time!

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

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

This year, in conjunction with my “Intro to Guatemala” cultural component, I used a story that I wrote that was based on the song.  We started this one the very first day of our Guatemala study.  I literally used the lyrics that Gaby Moreno wrote in the song to create the story, incorporating some of them directly into the story.  The results were wonderful. I spent 2 days with the story prior to introducing the song. The first activity with the actual song is to watch about a minute 10 seconds of the video, just checking what they see.  We briefly talk about the images that they have seen.

ave-1  We then listen to the first part of the song, putting the first 7 lines in order. After that, we talked about what those lyrics meant. This year, there was no need to elaborate on new vocabulary or to explain what “Guate” was. The students knew exactly what the lyrics were saying because of the story that we had read.  Students answered some basic questions about the singer and the song, completed a simple cloze, worked with synonyms and antonyms, and did a personal reflection about what they thought the title of the song meant and what it might mean in terms of the novel that were going to be reading. We also did a partner ordering of the song lyrics on another day, using big sentence strips on cardstock. An additional homework assignment was to illustrate their choice of three lines of the song. I brought the song back again in chapter 4, as the family prepares to leave for Chiapas (we spent quite some time on Chiapas and its’ relationship historically with Guatemala/Mexico), using an interview with Gaby, a close look at the lyrics (especially Cansados de estar corriendo    En tiempos de cacería ) and the official video for the first time.

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

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

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

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

 

My tentative plan for 2016 – 2017

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

Spanish IV

Term 1

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

Term 2

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

Term 3

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

Term 4

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

Spanish III

Term 1

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

Term 2

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

Term 3

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

Term 4

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

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

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.

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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.

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Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos:

Poems:

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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.

 

Music without the cloze……..

Yesterday, one of my Twitter colleagues remarked how much she enjoys using music in her Spanish classroom.  She continued by asking what else could she do with a song other than have students complete a cloze activity.  It’s very hard to give an answer to that question within the 140 character limit. Therefore I am going to share some of the ways that I have used a song recently. My Spanish III classes have just begun a Colombia/Juanes/Social Awareness unit and my Spanish IV classes have just finished the novel Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha.

An oldie, but a goodie…..La Historia de Juan (Juanes).  Everyone has heard this song and knows that it is filled with preterite verbs.  There are several activities that I do with this song, but one of the newest is this document La Historia de Juan que representan las fotos (see the pictures below).  After we have worked with the songLa Historia de Juan retell, I will have the students first identify what the pictures mean in relationship to the song; next I will have them attempt to recreate a line from the song; finally, they will have to attempt to put the pictures in some order, with lyrics, that will make sense.  It may not necessarily be the same order as the song.

For another old song, A Dios le Pido, BEFORE my students had any exposure to it, I gave them 12 strips for the first part of the song.  Working with a partner, they read through the lyrics, in whatever order they got them, and tried to understand as much as possible.  We shared this in class and then made guesses as to what the song might be about. A Dios 1 A Dios 2

Their guesses ran basically along these lines:  someone is in love, someone is sick, someone has Alzheimers, etc.  Without watching the video while we listenend, they next tried to put the 12 strips in order.  I recommend having the students derive some meaning before ordering, otherwise trying to order an unfamiliar song can be a bit daunting.  It took two times listening, and they had the order.  Then we watched that part of the video.  It didn’t take much discussion to determine that the song was about more than they had originally thought.  The second day with the song I did a type of go/stop activity (similar to MovieTalk) with the video as we identified what it was that we were seeing.  We then listened again, identifying, by circling, which word was in the song (despertar, despiertan, despierten; recuerde, recuerda, recordar) A Dios part 2. A Dios le pido day 2 Next, I had them,without looking, attempt to write down 5 things that Juanes had asked for in the song.  They shared with a partner, and together, as a class, we listed as many as we could.  We looked at the lyrics again and I asked them if they noticed anything different about the verbs that we had circled (brief foray into the world of present subjunctive, and I do mean brief: they have “opposite endings” and there is a “que” before them). Finally, the students determined what three things they might ask for.

Enrique Iglesias and Nicky Jam released the official video for “El Perdon” last Wednesday.  It was a song that had been on my radar for about a month, as I waited to see what the video would be like to determine if I was going to use it.  The video is mostly decent, there are a few things that might be inappropriate depending on your school situation and level. I played it for my students as the opening music last Thursday, and predictably, they really liked it.  Sara Elizabeth Cottrell posted some wonderful ideas for this song on her blog Musicuentos and I strongly encourage you to explore her blog!  I did something else with the song. First, we identified every word that they knew after only listening once.  We listened again, and added to the list. It was great because we have certainly been working with “estaba buscando, gritando, matando, tomando etc.”  They really felt good about what they understood after just those two times. Then, I had them listen to the way Enrique and Nicky pronounced words, asking if they were the same.  Of course, they are not.  This led to a good discussion about the difference in Spanish from Spain and Spanish from the United States (Nicky Jam was born in Boston) when your parents are from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Their listening was intense as the picked up on the “decir” of Enrique Iglesias; the e’taba bu’cando of Nicky Jam, etc.

Finally, one of the songs that I used with the book Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha (from TPRSPublishing, was Tu Carcel. I had read about the song in another blog, and I’m really sorry that I can’t remember where (if you know, please tell me and I will credit that source).  In the book, the anonymous author will eventually go to jail, but even before that happens, he is imprisoned in a jail that is of his own making/or of the gang.  While the song is technically a love song, it was really easy to reinterpret the lyrics so that they applied to the narrator, the disappearance of his father, the death of his mother, etc.  And that is exactly what we did with those lyrics.

So, there you have it, 4 different activities that are not cloze activities, that I have used in the past 2-3 weeks.

Whoops…updating…..

Spanish IV started the Immigration unit three days ago.  I introduced it with the very popular song, Wake Me Up, from last year.  It was done originally by Aloe Blacc and Avicci.  Aloe Blacc (whose parents are from Panama), made an acoustic version of the song with Immigration as the video context.  It was an immediate hook for my students because it was a song in ENGLISH that they already knew quite well…..but, they had never seen it from the perspective of immigration.  The lyrics are the same as the original version, but they take on a completely different meaning in the context of the song.

We also work very early in the unit with the Statue of Liberty. I adapted an English article to Spanish Inmigracion Estatua de Libertad 2015, added the poem by Emma Lazarus, and finished our brief survey with this music: