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!


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…….

Starting the novel, Frida

This week my Spanish IV classes are starting the novel, Frida by Kristy Placido. I’m posting very quickly (and probably with some errors! :)) how I am beginning it for the second time.cover I decided that one of the first activities that we would do would be to work with the song, Soy Yo by Bomba Estéreo.  Kara Jacobs has a great unit on her blog for Level I Spanish students with additional materials available on TPT (Sherry Nesbitt also has some materials here.). I took her basic google presentation or powerpoint and revamped it for Spanish IV.  It is available for download (free) below.

Bomba Estereo – Soy yo – revised for blog

Here is my three day plan:

Day 1

  1.  I used Kara’s original story and rewrote it for an upper level class. I am not sharing it because it is part of her unit that is available on TPT. Students read it aloud with a partner, answered questions, identified vocabulary. (I had previously assigned them a quizlet with key words from the song).
  2. We watched the video.
  3. We brainstormed what “belleza” meant.  In groups of three, they had 10 minutes to prepare a powerpoint (as a group) of things/people that are beautiful.  We did a quick gallery walk to view the finished products.  Each group then wrote a definition of beauty.  It is my hope to return to these powerpoints later and see if they would change anything.

Day 2

  1.  I used the powerpoint for Soy yo by Bomba Estéreo (Bomba Estereo – Soy yo – revised for blog).  We took the time to discuss the slides throughly.  When we got to slide 6, with the message from the group about the song, “No hay nada mejor que ser tú” I began to tie it into Frida. I referenced a poster of her in my room, and we talked in general terms about when she was born, what was happening in the world during her lifetime, the “unibrow” and facial hair, why she might want to look like that (in historical terms) and what people might say about her.  Slides 9 – 11 were crucial in continuing the discussion.
  2. Next, I gave each group of 2 students a set of cut up lyrics (printed on card stock and cut out) soy yo lyric arrange strips  For my own sanity, each set was printed on a different color in case any strips were dropped on the floor (!) they would be easily identified as to what group was missing the strip.  Within the first 10 seconds of the music, students identified how very difficult it was going to be to put the strips in order….but that was a great challenge that they really enjoyed.  I had to play the beginning three times before they got the order correct for the first 4 – 6 strips.  As we did it in sections, we also talked about what the lyrics were saying (quizlet came in handy!). Finally we had the entire first verse and chorus done.  I had them “make meaning” with their partner of the lyrics, and we checked our thoughts.  Then……we tried to “rap” it!  Such a blast!!! We did it several times.
  3. We worked with the first part of the Zamba: Excursión al Museo de Bellas Artes, Frida Kahlo. We watched it and shared what we saw and heard. There were MANY questions about it; I encouraged the questions but didn’t give answers yet.
  4. Finally, we played quizlet live with our Soy yo lyrics.

Day 3

  1.  I plan to open with a cloze of Soy Yo. Soy yo cloze day 2  The document also contains a space to write a 25 word summary of the message of the song. I’m pretty sure we will have to sing again!
  2.  We will work with the Zamba video again. Kara Jacobs has a great activity for this.  Arianne Dowd also has a terrific unit on TPT for Frida and the Zamba video!
  3. We will read chapter 1 of Frida

Looking ahead, we will begin working with Caótica Belleza on days 4/5.  See my blog post from last year here. Additionally, I hope to add this song in later chapters: Yo Soy Así by Redimi2 and Funky. I’ve already had it playing in the background and they are very “into” it.  When I get it done, I’ll post it here or on my wikipage.  A sampling of the lyrics:

Acéptame, recházame
pero no quieras cambiarme
Sé que mi estilo de vida
no se parece a tu vida pero
que le puedo hacer
Yo soy así

Yo no voy a hacer
lo que todos hacen
seré diferente
aunque me rechacen
conmigo mis amigos
no se complacen
quieren destruirme
pero no la hacen

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

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.



















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.
























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.