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.


Adding to the wealth of resources for Felipe Alou

Although the fluencymatters novel, Felipe Alou by Carol Gaab, has been available for years, this is my first time using it. Fortunately, there are many, many generous bloggers who have shared their resources, supplementing the useful teacher’s guide that is available from fluencymatters.   I am particularly indebted to Dustin Williamson, Cindy Hitz , Martina Bex , Wesley Hilliard, Nelly Hughes and Allison Weinhold. To share the wealth, and to pay it back or forward, I’m going to quickly list a few things that I’ve adapted or created to go with the novel to date.

  1.  As suggested by several teachers, after working with the Mirabal Sisters and In the Time of the Butterflies, we moved into baseball, and made our own gloves.  First we did this reading Guantes de Cartón rev. 2018 rev, which I adapted from Wesley Hilliard, and then we made our gloves and played.  FUN!
  2. Chapter 1:  A “guante” wordle with qualities that may or not be reflected in a leader.  Students have 2 different colored markers and highlight positive/negative qualities. guante leader wordle guante
  3.  Chapter 3:  Story cups tower (an idea that I got somewhere….I’m sorry, I don’t remember from whom!!! Now I know…..Nelly Hughes via Arianne Dowd!!!) Story cups tower    Morir soñando, idea from Cindy Hitz. Most liked it, but as you can see, not all! 

    Reread chap 3 and find the false statements, based on a Martina Bex original idea. Reread chap 3 find the false statements     

  4. Repaso of 1 -3 Dictation, prior to moving to chapter 4.  I read each of the sentences several times as they wrote.  I then projected the sentences for them to correct.  Homework could be illustrating a few of them.  Believe it or not, most of the students really enjoyed this activity.  Dictation repaso of chapters 1 – 3 before beginning chap 4
  5. Chapter 4:  Had students illustrate ONLY 3 important scenes for them from the chapter.  The next day that shared their drawings with a partner and described the scene.  Partner did the same.  They next found a new partner and described what they saw on THE PARTNER’S paper.  Partner did the same.  They found another partner, and this time, they wrote what the partner had drawn. Capítulo 4 Felipe llama la atención internacional
  6. Pre chapter 5   I decided before we even began the book that in addition to adding much material for Trujillo and the Mirabal sisters, we would focus on Civil Rights during the time that Felipe arrived in the U.S. and the subsequent decade.  I knew that my students were going to need that background.  I used this slide (cropped from my SMART presentation) to get them to guess the decade and what the pictures represented. civil rights intro slide I followed it with this slide: civil rights intro what do we knowWe then did some brainstorming as a class, using this slide: civil rights brainstorming The next day I put them in groups of three and gave each group a large baggie that contained the three time periods (antes de, en el medio de and después de) and many events for each category.  Their task was to sort the events into the time period they thought they belonged.  I will not lie, this was difficult for them, and after about 7 minutes we regrouped and talked about what we had for before or after.  Several days later, we tried it again with more success.  I strongly feel that it was beneficial, but that, of course, is just my opinion.  Post reading timeline and prep for Chap 5 (small version for teacher) and Post reading timeline strips BIG large version for students.  It was a LOT of work to run them on cardstock, then cut all the strips and then bag them for each group.  But, now I have them!
  7. Chapter 5   To reinforce the main points of chapter 5, I decided on 7 principal sentences and created a rebus for each one.  With one class, they had all of them at one time on their individual papers; with another class I projected them one at a time.  I think I preferred that way. Chap 5 post reading rebus rebus 1 and 2
  8. Chapter 6   Dictogloss for review that I created based on the description on classroomtapas.com 
  9. Chapter 7  Based on a GREAT idea from Cindy Hitz, I made what she called “Game Smashing”.  Here is my description, with cloze sentences and word clouds to choose from.  Chap 7 game smashing I’ve always used wordles, or word clouds for partner work, and this one uses two steps:  identifying of words with their partner, and then finding the appropriate word to finish a sentence that is projected.  I can’t upload the powerpoint, but here is what the first slide looks like after projecting the answer: word smashing example

I hope there is something here that might be useful for you and your students.  And, as always, feel free to correct or comment…..and to suggest!!

Some of you who have followed my blog for a while might be wondering where is all of the music?????  I have used SO MUCH music with this novel, and created so many activities with it that it will have a separate post…..sometime………

Introducing Vida y Muerte with Voces Inocentes y Casas de Cartón…..again

coverThis makes my 4th year with the superb novel Vida y Muerte en la MS 13 from Fluency Matters.  The novel is the anchor in my largest unit of Spanish IV that encompasses goals and dreams, El Salvador, Voces Inocentes, the novel and Immigration. For the past 3 years, it has been the “favorite” unit of my Spanish IV classes in the end of the year evaluation.  Each year, as is the case with any unit, I have added new materials, deleted others and revised many.  After an introduction to El Salvador and it’s troubled history of the past 80 years or so (thanks to a spectacular presentation from Kara Jacobs), I have used the movie Voces Inocentes.  Focusing on a featured song from that movie, Casas de Cartón, the comprehension of the lyrics of the song significantly increase the emotional connection of the students as well as their awareness of what the Civil War in El Salvador really meant.  Two years ago, I discovered Mike Peto’s brilliant post and activities for the song.  This year due to snow and mandated state testing, the introduction to the novel has been extended.  Therefore, I have had the opportunity to create a very simple introduction to the song and an equally simple, but powerful addition to the study of the song. Below I have detailed how I began the El Salvador/Voces Inocentes part of the unit this year.

Day 1

  1.  Brief talk/discovery of what students know about El Salvador
  2. Kara Jacob’s presentation for El Salvador (I stopped on the slide for Casas de Cartón) with some additional information that I created
  3. I created this presentation to introduce the song Casas de Cartón
  4. Watched/listened to the first 1:42 seconds 
  5. Completed a simple cloze Casas de cartón 2018 (Spanish and English)

Day 2

  1.  Class started with FVR. Students read novels of their choice for 10 – 14 minutes twice a week in Spanish IV.
  2. Grouped students (2-3) with questions on cardstock related to the El Salvador presentation from day 1 (Essential Question #1).  Students answered the questions in the small groups, and then the whole class quickly reviewed/clarified together.
  3. In groups of two with a laptop, used Mike Peto’s matching activity for about 5 minutes.
  4. I created an extended visual presentation of El Mozote, based on Kristy Placido’s La Mascare de El Mozote. (Please do not ask me to share, Kristy’s work is worth the money! I can share what I added, but not the original work.)  Students worked in groups of two to read through the presentation and explore the visual presentation.  They spent about 10 minutes doing this. At the end, we reviewed as a class what they considered to be the most important facts that they learned.
  5. Based on an idea from Martina Bex, the groups of two students created a 25 word summary in Spanish of what they considered to be the most important details.

Day 3

  1.  I used 2 parts of a study guide from Rachel Hawkes to introduce the movie, Voces Inocentes.  However, when I looked for that guide again online, it did not contain the 2 parts that I used! I suppose it has been updated? The parts that I had are a cloze for the trailer of the movie and an additional cloze that focused on preterit verbs from the trailer. We did both of these prior to watching the actual trailer, and then confirmed our answers when we watched.
  2. Working in groups of two, I gave each group lyric strips (on cardstock) to Casas de Cartón in English and Spanish.  With the music playing softly in the background, they matched the Spanish to the English…..they were not putting them in order. The strips were all randomly ordered. Casas de carton matching
  3. Students then removed the English lyric strips and then put the Spanish lyrics in order as best as they could remember them.
  4. I played the song for them (first 1:42 seconds) and they revised the order as necessary.
  5. With the strips now in the correct order, they looked at the Spanish strips and read through them in English.  Hopefully, this additional background work will make the song even more powerful when we hear it for the first time in the movie.
  6. We briefly went through an introduction (on SMART) to the movie, using these slides (the vocabulary slide is from a larger group of words on quizlet) : Voces 1

Voces 2.PNGVoces 3

7.  We watched the first 20 minutes of Voces Inocentes (in Spanish)

Day 4 (this coming week)

  1.  We will use Mike Peto’s concentration game for Voces Inocentes
  2. We will complete a post viewing review of day 1, using some of the slides from the day 3 presentation and additional comprehension questions.  This will be done in small groups.
  3. We will watch an additional 20 – 25 minutes of the movie.

More to come…….

Frida and Caótica Belleza

My Spanish IV classes finished the novel Frida, by Kristy Placido right before our Christmas/winter holiday break. It was the culmination to a large art unit that expanded due to the interest of this years’ students.  Originally I had planned to spend just a few days on the art for Día de Muertos, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso before moving into the novel Frida and a study of some of her art.  However, my students, for the most part, were really interested in Pablo Picasso and Guernica as well as Salvador Dalí and the painting The Hallucinogenic Toreador.  I created many additional materials to go with our study, including two stories that I wrote for them (always keeping comprehensible input in mind!!!) as well as several SMARTboard presentations. What I intended to cover in just over a week morphed into three weeks, really cutting into my time for the novel Frida.

I originally thought that Soy Yo by Bomba Estéreo with great activities from Kara Jacobs was going to be a main focal song for Frida.  I thought that the fierce affirmation of “I am who I am” from that song would go well with the personality of Frida.  I did use the song, but minimally, as I discovered Caótica Belleza by Esteman featuring Natalia Lafourcade, at the end of October, just as I was beginning the art unit.  The song immediately struck a chord with me and my focus changed.  The video is sweeping, beautiful and mesmerizing, and the lyrics are profound. For me, the declaration in the lyrics celebrating diversity, individuality, and Latin American culture simply tied the song to Frida.   “Hoy puedo ver lo que yo fui, de donde soy de donde vengo”  and “Hay cosas en la vida que no se pueden cambiar” just resonated as part of the identity of Frida. Since we started our study of Frida with a discussion and defining of beauty, we were able to carry on that discussion/identification with this song called Chaotic Beauty. Most of my students enjoyed the song and internalized the lyrics. I even placed the song in our “Locura de diciembre” music contest in which it was a semifinalist, losing to the eventual winner, Hasta el amanecer.

Prior to exposure to Caótica Belleza we had briefly worked with the Lasso song “Como te odio” which included the lyric: “hay cosas en que uno se puede superar” (there are things in life that one can overcome)  which we were able to directly compare with the lyric “hay cosas en la vida no se pueden cambiar” (there are things in life that one can’t change) from Caótica Belleza. (The ever wonderful Kara Jacobs created some great things to go with the Lasso song.) Our first activity with Caótica Belleza was a partner organization of the first 10 lines of the song as we listened.  I gave each group of 2/3 a set of sentence strips that they ordered as we listened.  This was a very easy activity. I always run off the strip sets in different colors so that it is easy to match a stray lyric to the proper set.  After the students successfully ordered the lyrics, they worked to apply meaning to the lyrics. By this time they had quite a background knowledge of Frida from the Zamba video as well as the first few chapters in the novel.  The second day that we worked with a traditional cloze and then compared Spanish/English lyrics as well as how the lyrics might apply to Frida. Here is the order activity and the cloze activity, if you are interested: caotica-belleza-cloze-and-sentence-ordering-2  The third activity with the song, a few days later (when many had already downloaded and memorized parts of the lyrics) was another order activity, but as a large group.  I divided the class in half and gave each group a set of individual strips with the lyrics from the last verse.  Each person received at least one strip, some, depending on the size of the class, got two strips.  The groups listened to the song and attempted to create a single file line with their lyrics in order.  This was harder to do as I did not let them talk…only listen and push each other to the proper place 🙂  When they had the order we had a contest to see which group could get the meaning of the lyrics first.  I allowed them 2 minutes to discuss, but then they had to resume their line and each person was responsible for the meaning of the lyric strip that they held.  If that person stumbled, or couldn’t complete the lyric, the “game” passed to the other half of the class.  It took some time to actually get through this, too! I then gave them 30 seconds to memorize the lyric strip that they held.  They had to put it away, and each half of the class attempted to recite the lyrics, in order, in Spanish, with each person responsible for his/her individual strip.  Difficult, but fun, plus it helped to cement the lyrics/ideas/meanings in their heads…..turning it into comprehensible input!  Here are the strips for that activity: caotica-belleza-last-verse-group-ordering

Last item, here is a link to my youtube channel with music for the Frida unit, typically played while working on other things in class!

Overall, the majority of my Spanish IV students found the novel Frida by Kristy Placido an easy, very comprehensible read, and just as important…..they enjoyed it.  I can’t wait to teach it/share it a second time!

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


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!

Lágrimas, much more than simply a song, by Camila

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

This was the objective:

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

These were the steps that I used:

Day One

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

Day Two

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

Day Three

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

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