Even more music for Vida/Muerte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recuerdo               Primer amor                La besé                 Inexplicable                 Cuidarte

Mil razones         Te voy a extrañar              Soledad                 Terminar                 Nadie más

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

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

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

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

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

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


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!

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…….

Adding MIENTES to La Llorona de Mazatlán

This is now my fourth time using La Llorona de Mazatlán by Katie Baker with my Spanish IV classes.  While there are standard activities and creations that I use with all of our novels each year, I never do anything the same way twice. This year has been made a bit more complicated since I decided that we would start the year with both FVR and El Internado once a week (as opposed to just second semester), effectively eliminating one day of the week.  However, I still want to cover the same amount of material and novels as last year, so I have to really consider how much more I add to each novel! It actually has worked out well, as I have had the students read about half of the novel on their own, and half with the whole class and therefore still been able to add in all the little “extras”.  This past week we finished chapters 9 and 10 (the fracturing of the friendship of Laney and Desi and the gift of la pulsera from Luis to Laney). We also have begun our readings of other legends (El Sombrerón, El Cucuy, El Chupacabras) as well as the first versions of La Llorona (thanks to Bryce Hedstrom!).  The first part of Chapter 11 is the huge argument between Laney and Desi, when Laney lies about the giver of the gift. My students certainly know the nouns “mentiroso/a” and “mentira” but I did not feel that they were as familiar with the verb “mentir.” With oral assesments coming up, I really want them to be comfortable when talking about the people who lied: Laney and Luis. In addition to that, the lyrics tie in beautifully with the book and the legend of La Llorona: You came into my life to teach me; with eyes closed I followed you; you’re not the person that I thought you were; you hurt me; I’m better off without you. Last year, AFTER the chapter, I used the terrific song Mientes by Camila, and they really enjoyed it. However, I made a note to use it BEFORE the chapter this year, and it worked really well.  Note: I did not use the video at any point in time; it is not appropriate and absolutely not needed. Here is the order of what I did.

  1.  Quickly went over present and past tense of mentir, with some PQA 1
  2. Shared some memes and images 2.PNG
  3. Had some discussion about famous liars (I gave them a few, they added more). 3.PNG
  4. Had some discussion about our own lies, and why we lie 5.PNG
  5. Talked about consequences of lying; this was deliberate to incorporate some unfamiliar words in the song Mientes:  hace daño, conseguiste, quedan ganas6.PNG
  6. First listen to the song and work with a traditional cloze chap 11 MIENTES Camila
  7. After listening to it twice, checking the words that they filled in, and making sure that meaning had been established, most of them were begging to sing it. One of my classes had to sing it three times and we have decided that this week they will come up with gestures for the song.
  8. Read the first two pages of Chapter 11 (the fight) and was delighted when so many of them started yelling:  Mientes, Laney, mientes!

This upcoming week

  1.  Review the song again, singing with all classes, adding gestures with at least one of those classes
  2. Pull out specific lines to emphasize 7.PNG
  3. Use Pictograms Chap 11 Mientes picto  8
  4. And/or use Pictograms as a game (projected on SMART)
  5. Act out the fight scene between Laney and Desi, using the actual script in the book first, then creating their own script

If you are interested in seeing the rest of what I have done with La Llorona de Mazatlán this year, use this link.  The page is in chronological order so that the most current plans are at the top.

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.”



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
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