Take 3….Vida y Muerte en la MS 13

One of my favorite things about the Fluency Matters novels is the variety available. Spanish IV has read La Llorona de Mazatlán by Katie Baker and Frida by Kristy Placido this year, bringing the total of novels that they have read in Spanish to six. They have been exposed to the culture of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Spain, and they have read, among many topics, about immigration, Civil Wars, environmental issues, cultural traditions, bullfighting, polemic issues, legends, soccer, and art. They have read lighthearted topics and serious topics, but with everything that they have read, they have been exposed to compelling comprehensible input that I can mold according to the needs and interests of each class.  Additionally, with our FVR on Fridays, they are being exposed to more of these novels that THEY choose to read.

A few weeks ago, we started Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha 13 for my third time. As with every time that I begin a novel, the one constant is that nothing stays the same and I always am revising, adding and crafting new materials, trying to get that “just right” level. I always feel that I am under some pressure to get through material in a timely manner in my 50 minute classes, and it is always in the back of my mind, as Carol Gaab has said so many times, “slow down, slow down, slow down.” Such a battle!!! However, slower has definitely been better this time around.

For four weeks prior to beginning this unit, we were in a unit about their dreams and goals. Their final visual assessments are all over the wall fo the room, as I wanted that visual representation of their hopes to be a constant reminder as we began to explore the hopes and dreams of the youth of El Salvador during the Civil War. We started with a terrific reading from Martina Bex about La Masacre de El Mozote. This was the first year using this reading, and it definitely helped to prep the students for what we were plunging into. I also took Martina’s reading and created a powerpoint with many additional pictures (25 slides ) and followup explanations and materials for El Mozote. After two days using some of the materials that Kara Jacobs created for the “pre work” about El Salvador and the Civil War, we moved into the movie Voces Inocentes, the true story of a young boy growing up in the midst of the Civil War. I was very careful this year to make sure that we continued to contrast their hopes/dreams with youth in entirely different circumstances. In previous years, I pushed to get through the movie in three days, always wanting to spend more time discussing what we watched (but not doing so), but also feeling pressure to get to the novel.  I can not tell you how much better it was to spend SIX days (double the time) on this movie this year. We watched about 20 – 25 minutes each day and spent the first part of class talking about, discussing and refining what we had watched the day before. One day we did this with a partner, another day in a group of four, another day as a whole class, etc. I used some of the questions from Kara’s guide to the movie, some from a guide put together by Carmen Herrero and Ana Valbuena, and combined these with some of my own material: voces-inocentes-post-viewing-day-1-2017, voces-inocentes-post-viewing-from-day-2-2017, voces-inocentes-post-viewing-day-3-2017, voces-inocentens-post-viewing-day-4. The day after day 5, when we finished the movie, each class spent a considerable amount of time working through their reactions and questions concerning some of these (varied by class):

Marcos, simbolismo de la galleta
La reacción de Kella y Abuelita al ver que Chava no está
¿Por qué Ancha?
Cuando Chava recogió el rifle, empezó a disparar y paró….por qué
Simbolismo del arma que dejó caer Chava
El grito de “NO” al ver el fuego en la casa
El regreso de Kella, buscando a Chava (el amor que no cesa)
Cuando Chava tomó la cara de Kella en sus manos…(ahora, sí, es el hombre de la casa)…agarra su mano y dijo “Vámonos de aquí)
Vendió la máquina de coser para el viaje de Chava a los EE.UU
La reacción de Kella cuando Ricardito dijo “Ahora soy el hombre de la casa.”
Chava, no quiere ir a los EE.UU…dijo: “Pero si me quedo me van a acabar matando.”
La escena al final cuando Chava está manejando por los techos
Why was the story left up to Chava to tell? “Pero me tocó a mí”      

Finally, on day 6, we played a “game” that I have always called Levántate y Cambia, but I saw recently somewhere (I can’t remember, where!!  I’m sorry! Help!) with the name Quiz, Quiz, Change. voces-inocentes-levantate-y-cambia I took questions and vocabulary from the movie,  ran them off on cardstock and gave a card to each student.  They got up, asked a partner their question, the partner answered it, then asked his/her question, was answered, they switched cards and moved to someone else.  We then immediately went into an untimed free write, where they were free to write about their choices of symbolism in the movie, character growth/development in the movie, the effects of the Civil War, the most powerful scene, etc.  Many of their free writes were in depth and quite moving.

Another thing that I did differently with the movie this year was to preteach two of the powerful songs from Voces Inocentes:  Casas de  Cartón and Razones. Mike Peto had blogged about the impact that Casas could have if the students know it prior to the first of three times that it is used within the movie, and, boy, was he correct! My students in the past always grew to like the song AFTER the fact; it was entirely different when they understood the lyrics from the first time it occurs in the movie.  By the third time it plays in the movie, several of my students were in tears. It was equally successful to preteach Razones by Bebe (just using 1:32 of the song); the rawness of her voice, the lyrics and the moment that it plays in the movie all converged to make a very powerful moment.

Yet something else that I added this year, still prior to beginning the novel, was a study of Oscar Romero.  Since we had been exposed to the activity of priests in the movie, and we had read a bit about Oscar Romero in our prework for the Civil War, I added a reading that I wrote (oscar-romero, with a reminder that I am not a native speaker and there most likely are errors) and a study of his last address/sermon. We also watched a few clips from the movie, Romero, and one for the last sermon.

This time around, as we begin to get engrossed in the compelling biography of the narrator in Vida y Muerte, I didn’t want them to forget the Civil War in El Salvador, why so many came to the U.S. and how these teenagers (parents of the narrator) had hopes and dreams just like they have. Since The novel begins with the initiation of the narrator into the gang life, one of the first pieces of music that I have used in the past is “Gangsta” by Kat Dahlia.  It’s always a song that the students really respond to, but I wanted to push it further this year. So, before we began, we had some small group discussion, followed by a class discussion about “Gangstas.”  Side note: my students find it really, really humorous to hear me (the older teacher) say “gangsta”!  I created this document to guide their discussion: gangsta

The final step, prior to beginning the novel was the work with the song. First exposure was with lyric strips (the first 12 lines) that two students had to order as they listened. Printing the lyrics out on colorful cardstock, cutting them out and putting them in a baggie, makes it possible for this activity to be done multiple times, multiple years. dices-ser-un-gangsta-first-part-strips-for-ordering  Once they had determined the correct order, they attempted to apply meaning to the lyrics with their partner. We read the lyrics in English and Spanish, we sang them multiple times, and they were hooked. We followed that activity with a traditional cloze. This week I will use the song yet again with a second part of lyric strips from later in the song. gangsta-second-part-sentence-strips

We are now, four weeks into the start, on chapter 5 of the novel.  We’ve watched clips of movies, played Kahoot and Quizlet, worked with SMART presentations that I’ve created for Los Angeles and specific chapters, done multiple partner activities, class discussions, and Smash Doodles.It’s going to be a long time to the finish.  Last year, I went through the novel and immediately went into an Immigration unit.  HEAVY MATERIAL! This year I am breaking up the intensity/seriousness of the material by doing 4 days with the novel (Monday through Thursday) and having Friday devoted to FVR and El Internado.  So far, it is going well.  This week will bring activities with another song that has been successful with students and this novel, Así Crecí by Farruko (entire post about that song from last year here) and the creation of our own tatuajes (to go with the narrator getting his first one).

The going is slow, but it is definitely rewarding.

My YouTube playlist for Vida y Muerte.

My Pinterest page for Vida y Muerte.

My wikispace page for daily plans for Vida y Muerte, a work in progress.

Taking Robo en la Noche out of the classroom

This is the fourth year that my Spanish III classes have read Robo en la Noche by @Kristy Placido.  (It will also be my last time teaching it since we are moving it to Spanish II next year, but then I get to teach Noche de Oro in Spanish III!) I finally feel that we “almost” got it right, this, the fourth time!

I live in a relatively small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. My students are not, for the most part, world travelers. Many of them have rarely ventured off of our peninsula.  The concept of a rain forest is a foreign concept (pun intended). How to make a rain forest “real” for them? I love the idea of creating a rain forest in the classroom…I’ve seen that in several posts by great teachers. However, our classrooms are shared, and used every period of the school day. Therefore, that wasn’t really a viable option. In the second year with the novel, I got the idea, almost at the end of the novel, to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  It has a rain forest, parrots, monkeys, etc. By the time we visited, we had been out of the novel for weeks and the possible power of the moment was lost. The third year in the novel, I revisited the idea of the Aquarium, got the timing almost right and was almost satisfied with the visit. This time, the fourth time with the book, we visited the Aquarium in conjunction with Makenna, Inés, and Dr. Parker traveling to Curú. That was, in my opinion, the time to go!

Having visited the Aquarium myself many times, and using the detailed website, I was able to create a scavenger hunt for my students. This has been part of the visit each time. Last year, in addition to the pictures that students had to take as part of the hunt, I added a video component. However, it was difficult for the students to send me their videos due to board of education restrictions, phones, and length of videos.  This year, they did about 30 seconds of character interpretation or a quick scene in the “selva”. They had a blast, for the most part, doing them and I was pleased with the results.

Here are the parts of the scavenger hunt. They were working in small groups of their own choosing ( 3- 6 students in a group).

I.  Animals: We have been adding animals to our active vocabulary as we have progressed through the novel.  I have used songs such as What Does the Fox Say? in Spanish, El Pollito Pio (with an inventive paper from Zachary Jones/Zambombazo from several years ago), Save the Americans, Costan Rican Animals for the Overworked, some previous things that I had created to go with an old “Animal” unit, and Lion King materials from years ago. We have had many conversations about animals, pets, exotic animals, etc. Therefore, I had them create a list of animals that they saw in the Aquarium that they knew how to say in Spanish.

II.  The Rain Forest: I had them list what they could see and hear as they visited this wonderful part of the Aquarium.

rana-azul

mimi

ibis-escarlata

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III. FOTOS! Who doesn’t like selfies and group photos???

 Las fotos que necesitan (efectos especiales son buenos!)
1. la rana venenosa azul o verde del árbol
2. Su grupo con una vista (view) del Inner Harbor
3. Con un loro amarillo y verde del Amazonas
4. Su grupo con su animal favorito del acuario                                                                          5. De un pez sierra                                                                                                                     6. De un boa esmeralda
7. Una persona del grupo tocando una medusa de luna O un cangrejo herradura O una estrella del mar en el lugar “Living Seashore”. ¡Si tienes más de un animal, puedes substituir para otra foto! This last part, new this year, was a huge hit! They loved taking their pictures touching these.

tocando

 

 

 

tocando-3

 

tocando-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IV. Random Information:
1. ¿Qué esqueleto está cerca del techo en el acuario?
A. dinosaurio B. ballena C. tiburón
2. ¿Cómo se llaman dos “rayas” que están en Blacktip Reef?
3. ¿Qué animal es “la mascota” del acuario?
4. ¿Qué animal tiene electricidad en el acuario?
5. ¿Qué tipo de animal es Feliz?
6. En la selva tropical, busca información sobre el papagayo/loro: ¿Dónde puede vivir? ¿Quién es el “predator” de estos pájaros/aves?
7. ¿Cómo se llama el réptil que está en la exhibición de Tidal Marsh ? (Es el réptil oficial del estado de Maryland, y de la universidad de Maryland)
V. The Video en la selva!!! We made a breakfast stop when we were about an hour and a half away from the aquarium. After we got back on the bus, I gave them the scavenger hunt paper which included the directions for the video. They had the time, if they chose to use it, to begin thinking and talking about the video that they would create. If I were going next year, I would not give the option of a “scene” from the book in the rain forest. I would make all of the videos character representations in the selva. However, here were the directions for this year:
• Una persona es Inés, una persona es Makenna, una persona es Dr. David Parker, y otras personas como Cecilio o Juan Carlos.
• Tienen que imaginar que Uds. están en Curú (la selva tropical).
• Tienen que usar muchas de estas palabras:
1. Aves                                                                                                                                     2. Soga
3. Loro o papagayo                                                                                                                   4. Huevos
5. Selva                                                                                                                                     6. Árbol
7. Volar                                                                                                                                   8. Plumas
9. Soltar                                                                                                                                10. Patas o alas
11. Cuidar                                                                                                                               12. Pierna rota
• Cada persona tiene que hablar. El video debe durar 30 – 45 segundos, NO MÁS!!!!
Since I can’t upload any videos on this free wordpress site, I am posting some action shots from their videos below!

We finished our visit through the Aquarium with the “delfines” which was enjoyable for all and then made our way to The Cheesecake Factory for a late lunch….that, too, was definitely a hit! Since we could not go to Costa Rica, this field trip was a good way to bring the rain forest and the environment of Robo en la Noche to them. Even though we live in an area where the humidity is pretty bad in the summer, most of them really complained about how warm and humid it was in the rain forest area of the Aquarium.
I’m not sure how many readers might have access to a zoo or an aquarium in their regions, but it certainly is worth looking into. It is a way to make the action and the setting much more relevant and believable for the students.

miaalastair-owenbrimanal

 

 

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. Here is the story: ave-que-emigra-reading-2. 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 ave-2students 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 ave-3title 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 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

 

Robo en la noche…..third time is a charm!

This is the third time that my fabulous colleague, Megan Matthews, and I are teaching Robo en la noche by Kristy Placido. The first time was two years ago and we rushed through it in the final weeks of school, relying heavily on the terrific resources from Cynthia Hitz.  The second time was last year and the rhythm of teaching was disrupted multiple times by many snow days and the intrusion of PARCC testing that disrupted our schedules for weeks. This year, the third time, we have only had two snow days, and the book is flowing very well. We have continued to add resources to the novel as we ourselves expand our knowledge of TPRS and CI techniques to complement some traditional methods.  Previously, I have blogged twice about Robo, see here and here. Since it is a snowy President’s Day here in Maryland (and I should be grading papers!), I decided to post some of these new resources that might be of interest to others who are using Robo en la noche, also. We are going to be starting chapter 9 this week.

Chapter 2: Chap 2 picture sort and group presentation With this activity, I gave every student a laminated card (took the luxury of printing them in color!), and they had to decide how to group themselves.  The tentative categories were Makenna, Margarita, Costa Rica, Cecilio, etc. My Spanish III classes have between 24 – 28 students, so I needed a lot of pictures! Once they decided their own groups, they worked together to create a presentation about their category.  I gave them about 4 minutes, and they shared it with the class, using their pictures to illustrate what they were saying.  I think that in the future I might follow that with having each group write an individual summary of their presentation.  Note: Some of the pictures could fit into more than one category, it was up to the student to decide where to go.  Prior to their group presentations, I had the class assess whether the pictures were in the correct grouping, and they were allowed to change, if necessary.

Chapter 3:  This year Megan and I are really focusing on verbs and target structures.  We spent a lot of time working on the various forms of casarse, embarazado, pensar, morir and sonreir. We had worked repeatedly with the various forms using a SMART presentation.  Here are some samples from that: 1 2 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our final repetition used this “Toca” board. ch 3 toca vocabulary  4 Working with a partner, students first identified the meaning of all of the structures.  Then, each working with a different colored dry erase marker (the boards were laminated), I said one of the structures in English.  The first to highlight the correct structure scored the point. We wiped the board clean and repeated this several times. By the time we actually read the chapter, all of these structures were easily understood by the students.  There was absolutely no stumbling!

 

Chapter 5: Review bird with all characters  5Working with a partner and different colored dry erase markers, students selected a character and said one sentence about that character, coloring through the character that they selected.  Since the characters are within the bird multiple times, they were able to say many facts about each character without repeating.  This activity lasted about 5 minutes; when they were done, they held up their birds (now colorfully illustrated), and, just for fun, we selected the “prettiest” bird.

Chapters 5-6 Chapters 5 – 6 pictures for oral assessment smaller version I tried some variations with these picture cards (to be printed in color and laminated). The pictures can just be shown to the class, with the entire class adding descriptions to each picture.  The pictures can be given one at a time to a group of 2 – 3 students, who describe the picture with as much detail as possible, and then pass the picture to another group.  Or, using an idea from Carrie Toth, called the yellow brick road, I took the students into the hallway, made a “pathway (yellow brick road)” with the pictures and they worked (in partners) their way through each picture.  I allowed about a minute with each picture before asking them to move one picture to their right/left.  It was relatively easy for me to circulate and listen to their conversations to give them an informal speaking assessment.

Chapter 7 Capítulo 7 Robo en la noche predict the chapter  6Prior to reading chapter 7 and working with a partner, students identified each picture and then selected which pictures they thought would represent what would happen in Chapter 7.  They put an X on the pictures that they thought would not represent action in the chapter.  After deciding, they turned the paper over and wrote 5 sentences about what they expected would happen in the chapter and then presented them to the class.  Their ideas were certainly interesting!! After reading the chapter, we checked the papers/predictions again.

Chapters 7/8:  Some game breaks

I hope that something in this post may be useful to someone else.  If you are using this book, I would love to hear some of your ideas.

 

Esperanza, year two……

So many people have been acknowledging the tremendous benefits and relevance of teaching with novels and CI, that there is no need for me to say more….other than I am 100% convinced that, for me, this is the way to teach.  I can not emphasize enough the phenomenal value of the TPRS novels and the novels being selfpublished (Mike Peto) as well as the original stories by people like Martina Bex.

This is my second year teaching with the novel Esperanza (written by the fabulous Carol Gaab) in my Spanish III classes. Last year, both the majority of my students and I loved this book and I wrote two posts about some of the things that we did: Esperanza y Gaby Moreno and Esperanza….the final assessments. However, this year I am even more pleased with what we have done so far…..and I am a little more than 2 weeks slower than I was last year!! Yes, it has taken me twice as long to cover the same material this year that I had covered last year at this point in time.  When all of those wise TPRS teachers and leaders say that “slower is better” and “make it personal”, they are oh, so right!  I know now that I did not do justice to the novel last year, nor to the great ideas in the teachers guide.

I am fortunate to be teaching Spanish III with a terrific colleague, Megan Matthews. We make a pretty good team, if I do say so! Between the two of us, we have 137 students in 5 sections of Spanish III, and we really try to plan and create together.  This year, we took many days to explore Guatemala: music, geography, history, etc.  We decided to really focus on La Guerra Civil before we began the actual book.   So far, it has really paid off. We have read, viewed, talked and used manipulatives to really understand the background of the book. Here are some of the things that we have used:

A brief “lectura”

Matarom a más de 200.000 personas.
Empezó en 1960. Duró por 36 años.
83% de las personas matadas fueron personas indígenas (mayas)
Los EE.UU. tenían intereses en Guatemala…..tierras de frutas, café, etc.
Los EE.UU. querían controlar la tierra. No querían a una persona comunista como presidente.
En 1960, los sindicatos empezaron a luchar por una vida mejor y los derechos de los mayas y los trabajadores.
General Efrain Rios Montt empezó los años más violentos. Mató a muchas personas en las montañas de Guatemala.
La Guerra Civil terminó en 1996 pero la lucha y la violencia siguen (continue).

La Guerra Civil Guatemala images

 

 

A Kahoot game

More information on General Efraín Ríos Montt, including a SMART presentation and more work with the vocabulary from the lectura (wordpress does not allow uploading this type of file).  Some of the things in the file are:

smart 1 smart 2 smart 3 smart 4 smart 5 smart 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another game, called Game Gritalo facts about civil war, where the class is divided into 2 teams.  Each team receives an identical set of cards (answers to the questions I will ask).  Each person receives at least one card.  I read the question or fact, and they had to recognize the answer, stand up and shout it! Noisy but a lot of fun.

Additionally, we have spent significant time talking about public transport, bus drivers and strikes.  All of this because Alberto, in the book, is a bus driver and we wanted our students to understand the significance of this, why it would be dangerous to be a bus driver (and why it continues to be dangerous) and why Esperanza and her mother have the feelings that they do about him/the job. Martina Bex has a useful product for the chicken bus in Guatemala and we used one of the readings from it. We also prefaced the entire situation with many personal questions about our students’ experiences with busses, whether they could identify the bus in Guatemala as the same school bus that they ride to school, etc. It was a very rich discussion in Spanish. We referenced articles that are relatively current that deal with continuing bus issues in Guatemala, such as this one. We used several videos: Just a bit of this one:

And finally, we have talked extensively about the crying of the baby due to hunger, the whining of Ricardito due to hunger, and their vomiting. We have discussed hunger (and vomiting due to crying and hunger) quite a bit.  I realize that I am taking liberties with the text, but I don’t feel that it is out of line.  We have talked about tortillas, bread and the staples of life for different cultures.  We have wondered and guessed why Esperanza was going to a tortillería in Chapter 2.  Would they eat just plain tortillas? What does a plain tortilla taste like? Would they add salt to it, such as in the documentary “Living on One“? On Monday, we are going to eat plain tortillas, salted tortillas, etc…..and they won’t be the American version “white flour tortillas.”

I hope these ideas may be beneficial to those of you who are also teaching with Esperanza. I’d love to hear more about what you are doing.

Argentina

My colleague Megan Matthews and I have had such great success with the TPRS Publishing  novels the past two school years, and we would love to be able to use more of them.  Unfortunately, in our school district we are plagued by financial issues and there simply isn’t enough money for us to purchase more at this time. We have, for the past 10 years, taught a unit on Argentina that is derived from chapter 10 in the textbook (that we do not use, but we are obligated to follow the curriculum).  While we have tried to incorporate some of the vocabulary from that chapter, some of the grammar (the ongoing past tense development, the introduction of the present subjunctive and the present perfect), and some of the cultural differences between Buenos Aires and Washington, D.C., we were missing the structure, the fun, and the wonderful support of a novel.  Over the years I had developed activities for that chapter that I liked, that the students enjoyed, and that served a definite cultural purpose, I was missing that reading and comprehensible input component. So, what happened?  I got pneumonia! And I missed a lot of school! And I was bored! So, what did I do? I started to write a novela about Argentina! I wrote the first two chapters and sent them to Megan, she wrote chapter three, I then wrote chapters four and five, she wrote chapter six, I wrote chapters seven and eight, we collaborated on nine, and I finished the book with chapters ten and eleven.  What excitement!! So what I’m going to do now is share the beginning of this with you! Please keep in mind that I am no expert in the culture of Argentina, nor am I a native speaker. I began to write this novela “Amigos, Abrazos, Aventura, ARGENTINA!” to fit a definite need and purpose for my Spanish III students.  The grammatical focus was specifically a continuation of the past tense, an introduction to the present subjunctive and an exposure to some present perfect.  The cultural emphasis was on similarities/differences between Buenos Aires and Washington, D.C.(which is just a little over 2 hours from us), the geography of Argentina, the food of Argentina ( we tasted a lot of it!), and specific areas (Iguazu, Ushuaia, las Pampas), el tango (we learned the basic steps to the dance and they LOVED it!) and a bit of soccer (although we ran out of time for this). The novela has a lot of dialogue (good for acting out the story), a bit of romance, a lot of mystery and an ending open to interpretation. I was able to include bits and pieces of my students’ favorite themes from throughout the school year, and the students came up with their own decisions as to what actually happened at the end….or maybe I left it open for a sequel!

These were the “I can” statements for this unit:

1. Puedo identificar los países de Las Américas.
2. Puedo identificar ciudades, lugares geográficos, y fronteras de Argentina
3. Puedo hacer comparaciones entre Buenos Aires y Washington, D.C.
4. Puedo hablar sobre varios lugares en Argentina:
· Buenos Aires
· Las Cataratas de Iguazú
· Ushuaia
· Las Pampas
5. Puedo hablar sobre unos aspectos culturales de Argentina
· El tango
· El fútbol
· La comida
6. Puedo escribir sobre viajes.
7. Puedo hablar y escribir en el pasado
8. Puedo reconocer y entender frases con “quiero que, es importante que, espero que, recomiendo que, aconsejo que, sugiero que” 

As always, we began the unit with some pre knowledge activities, some conversation, and some map and geography exploration. With a partner, we discussed:
1. ¿Qué te gusta hacer o ver en la ciudad o el lugar en que vives? ¿Por qué?
2. ¿Qué te gusta ver cuando visitas una ciudad nueva? ¿Por qué?
3. ¿Qué te gusta hacer cuando visitas una ciudad nueva? ¿Por qué?
4. ¿Qué es una ciudad que visitaste en el pasado? ¿Qué hiciste en la ciudad?
We followed that with Qué sabes de opening activity 2015 To complete this activity (with a partner), I also gave them the answers to the questions on a SMARTboard slide. que sabes answers
We worked with our maps. La Argentina primer trabajo del mapa 2015 Finally, we were ready to begin the first chapter of the novela. After reading the first chapter, we used a series of images to share information with our partner and to retell parts of the first chapter. chap 1 retellchap 1 retell 2   chap 1 retell 3We also answered some questions and worked with the verbs. Ch 1 preguntas and repaso verbos, intro verbos
Below, I am including the first chapter of this novel, which doesn’t include a lot of dialogue, but the dialogue really develops after the first chapter.  I would really appreciate your feedback on it.  Specifically, I welcome your criticism! I am thinking of perhaps pursuing having it published, even if I do it through something like TpT.  I know that I would have to replace all of the pictures, but that is not too much of a problem because I did have my students draw pictures for specific chapters.  If you find this interesting or worth pursuing, I would love to know.  Thank you in advance for your feedback and time.
chap 1-1 chap 1-2 chap 1-3

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: