Venezuela……Metas y Sueños…….and the power of Twitter

I’ve posted a couple of times now about this unit on goals and dreams that my Spanish IV students are doing (we’re almost done).  I have lots of activities to add to what I’ve already posted about, but something is happening that has interrupted and enriched the unit:  Venezuela.  Thanks to the power of Twitter, I have been able to incorporate the explosive situation in Venezuela into a very real, immediate, authentic source for Metas y Sueños.   ven 1If you have followed this blog for a while, you may remember that I have a huge unit that is loosely called Social Awareness through music; I use this unit in Spanish III.  About two thirds of my Spanish IV students were in my Spanish III classes last year, and therefore have some background knowledge of Venezuela.  Last year we followed the death of Hugo Chavez and the subsequent election between Maduro and Capriles.  So, last Friday, February 21, after having seen the Twitter activity with #SOSVenezuela, I had my students pull out their cell phones (Twitter is blocked at school) to begin reading the tweets with #SOSVenezuela.  We also had laptops out, so they could google Venezuela and find out information to answer their questions.  We spent most of the class “discovering” and talking.  What was happening in Venezuela? Why?  What were the goals and dreams of the students?  The goals of Leopoldo Lopez and his supporters?  The goals of Nicolas Maduro?  It was the best of helpful technology, high interest, situational immediacy, and the inquisitive minds that teenagers can exhibit.

After having followed the situation all through the weekend, I knew that I had to incorporate it into my lesson plan for this week, which was going to throw my timing off for the entire unit, and ultimately has made me do away with the last original Essential Question and evaluation for the unit (la banda sonora de tu vida).  We spent Monday viewing videos that had been tweeted about on Twitter, and working through many, many images, memes and posters.  I put all of the images on a SMARTboard presentation so that they could see them in color and very large.  The vocabulary was an amazing tie in with our active vocabulary for this unit (rendirse, darse por vencido, metas, sueños, vale la pena, alcanzar, etc.)

I followed this exploration with a “Free Write”.  I asked them to take the point of view of one of the following:

  • a student in Venezuela
  • Leopoldo Lopez
  • Nicolas Maduro
  • a musical artist that we have studied (Juanes, Carlos Baute, etc.)
  • an average citizen in Venezuela
  • an average citizen in the U.S.

For five minutes, they were to write about what was happening in Venezuela, using as much of our active vocabulary as possible. As with all of our free writes, grammar counts very little, content is most important.  This free write was 15 points content, 5 points grammar.  The results were impressive, as were the different points of view.

Here is a sampling of some of the sources of information that I used (most of them came directly from Twitter):

We also revisited song of the songs that we had used in Spanish III by Carlos Baute, including this one that has a new video using images from the current situation.

NO TE RINDASAs WORLD language teachers, I can not emphasize enough how valuable Twitter is for us.  It continues to be one of the most valuable tools that I have.

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10 years of teaching social awareness through music….

I finished my 10th year of teaching social awareness through music with my Spanish III classes this week.  And, as has happened every year since I created this unit, it got longer and more involved, and the kids were terrific!  When I started 10 years ago, I used 3 songs (two from Juanes and one from Juan Luis Guerra).  This year, I used 15 songs (Juanes, Juan Luis Guerra, Carlos Baute and Yerson and Stuard).  I spent about 6 weeks in the unit full time, but I actually started the music as we were finishing a unit about travel.  Within the teaching of this unit, I also incorporated preterite and imperfect, present subjunctive, geography of the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Colombia and South America in general, history of the three focal countries and background information with authentic readings of all of the artists except for Yerson and Stuard.  I plan to post the entire unit here this summer, when school is done; however, you can see the bulk of the work here.

This year, as I have done for the past 6 years, the students all chose one song as their focus, and created their own interpretation of it.  This was the assignment: PBT La Música 2013.

With this unit, I give the only “test” of the year, which is essentially identifying the geographical and historical points for the 3 countries studied in depth, identifying positive and negative vocabulary, choosing their own vocabulary to show me what they have learned, writing what they know about Juanes, and using the lyrics of the songs to support the themes of the unit.  The last part of the “test” is to let me know what they may have gotten from this unit.  Here are some of their responses.

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Additionally, I had some students create extra things, and I had one class, my smallest, ask to create their own Bandera de Manos.  I’m posting some of the projects below as well as pictures of the Bandera de Manos and some shirts that students created.

Minas Piedras 2

Bandera 2Bandera 3bandera 4bandera 5bandera 6 groupbandera 7Bandera de Manossuenos