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.

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Update to Metas unit: goals and dreams

metas-2017I have done a unit on “goals and dreams” since 2010. Each year it takes on a different shape…sometimes shifting considerably. I haven’t posted about the unit since 2014, before I knew that I was going to be teaching Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha as the next unit following “metas” (This year will be the third time reading that novel). A unit on goals and dreams is perfect to do at the beginning of January, when goals/resolutions/promises may prompt our attention. I think that it is an appropriate unit to do with any language, but obviously, I teach Spanish, so my resources are going to be in Spanish but I believe that they could easily be adapted.

Preguntas Esenciales
1. ¿Cuáles son tus metas, tus sueños? ¿A qué quieres dedicarte? ¿Cómo han cambiado tus metas /sueños desde tu niñez? ¿Cómo vas a lograr tus sueños? ¿Cómo te enfrentas a los retos, los obstáculos?
2. ¿Cómo presentan los sueños y las metas las canciones populares?
3. ¿Quién es una persona que ha superado mucho? ¿Cuáles son las características y/o las acciones de la persona que ha superado mucho? ¿Quién es una persona que admiras? ¿Porqué? (This question we did not cover adequately this year due to snow days, exam schedule)

Las Canciones

  1.  La Lista (Aldrey, Venezuela)
  2. Vivir mi vida (Marc Anthony, U.S)
  3. De Tú a tú (Lasso, Venezuela)
  4. Creo en mí (Natalia Jimenez, Spain)
  5. No creo en el jamás (Juanes, Colombia)
  6. No me doy por vencido (Luis Fonsi, Puerto Rico)
  7. El Ganador (Nicky Jam, U.S.)
  8. Celebra la vida (Axel, Argentina)

Las Historias

  1. Las doce uvas de la suerte, La Nochevieja (to start our resolutions, goals, and cultural comparison), purchase here from Martina Bex
  2. Campbell Remess, (a young boy who sews bears for sick children) a “freebie” that Martina Bex posted in late December/early January?
  3. A visual story that I created about multiple people who have overcome physical challenges (including Frida, who we had just studied and read about in December)
  4. Jennifer Bricker, Todo es posible (acrobat born without legs), purchase here from Martina Bex.  Leads into the song Vivir mi vida
  5. A story and powerpoint created by Arianne Dowd for De Tú a tú; I added background information for the current situation in Venezuela
  6. A story that I adapted from Zachary Jones  (and have rewritten four times) about sand artist Kseniya Simonova. I originally read about her back in 2009 (I think) in a post in the original Zachary Jones blog! Leads into the song Creo en mi
  7. A story that I wrote for Malala (based on a BBC article that I read).  Leads into the song No me doy por vencido
  8. A story that I wrote about Juanes and his personal struggles following his rapid successes from 2000 – 2006 (based on his autobiography, Persiguiendo el Sol).  Leads into the song No creo en el jamas
  9. An oral history of the life of Nicky Jam and why his new album is called “Fenix”.  Leads into the song El Ganador

Assessments

  1.  Quizlet
  2. Lyricstraining (choose two of the songs that we covered)
  3. Free writes
  4. Mixed media presentation that tied at least two songs with at least five lyrics to each students’ personal life, philosophy, goals and dreams
  5. A multitude of partner and small group informal assessments from discussions, questions, reading interpretations, etc.
  6. Individual and partner creation and translations of tweets about #metas # propósitos #sueños #nomedoyporvencido #retos, etc.

Many of the materials above are available, free, on my wiki. I would just ask that you not claim the work as yours when using it, if that is what you choose to do. Several of the files are too large to load on the wikispace, such as the SMART files, but I am willing to share via email if asked. Please do not ask me to share Martina’s fabulous work that I purchased, or Arianne’s creations that she freely shared with me.  You may purchase them or contact them.

We will wrap this unit up tomorrow.  The surprise of the unit was the release of the song by Nicky Jam (El Ganador), which occurred yesterday! I knew as soon as I heard the lyrics that it was going to be an awesome conclusion to the unit.  The song is essentially the life story of Nicky Jam and how he overcame some major obstacles to rise, like the proverbial phoenix, to success.  I had virtually no time to prepare it and went into the lesson today with what I knew about his life, supplemented with the song.  I showed the video first, they were hooked (it is essentially trap music….which is huge in this area right now).  Next, I orally told the story of his life, supplementing it with pictures I pulled up as I was talking and prior Nicky Jam songs that we have studied (Hasta el amanecer won our December bracketology).  I then replayed the video for El Ganador, stopping every few seconds to talk about what he was saying.  The students could understand it so well! Next year I will prepare, probably, a much more formal lesson/reading to go with it, but for today, it was a great success.

One final thing about the unit.  In one of my three sections of Spanish IV we had an intense discussion about school/education versus the joys of learning. For that class I used this video the following day Alike.  I highly recommend it.

Our next unit is Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha and the goals and dreams unit provides a wonderful foundation for the extended vocabulary/rich discussions that we will have as we read the book.  We talk about the goals/dreams of the narrator, the challenges/obstacles that he may overcome, etc. We can compare their goals and dreams with those in the book because their mixed media presentations will be hanging all around the room.

 

 

The songs that anchor my units

ship-anchor-red-clipart-1  I have written so many times about music and my teaching.  I literally have been using music in my classes for the past 37 years!  Yes, I know, I’m ancient. What doesn’t ever get ancient is the music.  This post is going to be a bit different.  I’m trying to consolidate; instead of writing a post about a specific unit I am going to simply list all of my units and the music that anchors each of them.  There is NOT ONE unit that doesn’t begin with music, not one. Music is always part of my “hook”.  It may not be the only hook, but it always is one of the hooks and the music “plays” on throughout the entire unit.

Spanish III

  1. Esperanza, the novel, written by Carol Gaab

2. La comida (Puerto Rico), story and unit developed by Sharon Birch

3. La ropa, story and unit developed by Sharon Birch and Megan Matthews

4. Robo en la noche, the novel, written by Kristy Placido

5. Colombia, Juanes y Los Colores de la Montaña, stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch

  • A Dios le pido, Juanes
  • La Historia de Juan, Juanes
  • Segovia, Juanes
  • Minas Piedras, Juanes
  • Sueño Libertad, Juanes
  • Bandera de Manos, Juanes
  • Odio por amor, Juanes
  • La Tierra, Juanes
  • No queremos minas, Yerson y Stuard
  • Los Caminos de la vida, Los Diabolitos

6. Bianca Nieves y los siete toritos, the novel, written by Carrie Toth

Spanish IV

  1. La Llorona, the novel, written by Katie Baker

2. El Arte (Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Picasso,Dalí), stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch     I hope to add the novel, Frida, written by Kristy Placido

3. La Comida de México y Perú, stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch, original ideas from Kara C. Jacobs  and Cristina Zimmerman

4. Las Metas y los Sueños, stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch

5. La Guerra Civil en El Salvador y Voces Inocentes, stories and unit developed by Sharon Birch, original ideas from Kara C. Jacobs

6. Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha 13, the novel, anonymous

7. La Inmigración, unit developed by Sharon Birch

8. La Narcoviolencia, unit developed by Sharon Birch, original ideas from Kara C. Jacobs, Cristina Zimmerman and Zachary Jones

9. Bianca Nieves y los siete toritos, the novel, written by Carrie Toth     I taught this in Spanish III and IV this year due to some extenuating circumstances (having to pick up a 6th class in March, no more funding for a new book, etc.)  Next year I hope to have the novel Felipe Alou, Carol Gaab, here.

 

La Copa Mundial 2014

FIFA 2014 official logo   I have been collecting resources for La Copa Mundial 2014 for almost a year on my Pinterest board…..and now it’s almost here.  I’ve also followed the incredible Zachary Jones, as he  has created activities for La Copa, and of course, the fantastic work of Kara Jacobs. I will be starting my World Cup unit in two weeks (really it is a unit on several World Cups and soccer in general), and have created a page on my wikispace with my essential questions (similar to Kara’s) and all of the resources now divided by category: essential questions, informal and formal assessments, videos to support the essential questions and soccer in general, focus songs, additional songs, and useful links to articles, infographics, etc. During the next two weeks, I will be creating activities and worksheets to go with my focus songs and the songs that I will be comparing/contrasting (such as the multiple versions of La Copa de Todos/The World is Ours and Shakira’s 2010 Waka Waka with her 2014 LaLaLa), and also for several of the videos that will support my essential questions.  All of the activities that I will create will be posted on that wikipage as I finish them and get ready to use them.  I’m really looking forward to sharing the excitement with my students, and I welcome any additional material you might like to share!

 

Spanish Music Database UPDATED

music_4_2012

It has taken me the better part of this afternoon to accomplish….here it is, updated again with a total of 1292 songs!!  100 more songs since just January!  Spanish Music Database 2 OFFICIAL-1

In the form of an EXCEL spreadsheet, it is sortable by artist, title, grammar, vocabulary, culture, and country.  It also contains all of the youtube links.  When I started this database more than 4 years ago, I never dreamed that it would become so large.  I definitely need to put it in a new format.  Suggestions?

I welcome your suggestions for additional music, too!!!  Thanks!

“Demanding” the Subjunctive!!! Or…additional ways to use a song to enhance a grammar concept

Songs continue to be one of my favorite authentic resources to introduce, reinforce or enhance a grammatical concept.  While this post is about a song that I used for work with the present subjunctive, the actual activities are applicable across the spectrum.

My three Spanish IV classes are about 8 days into intense work with the present indicative and present subjunctive.  We have used many songs:  Quizas( Enrique Iglesias), De Todo el Mundo (Enrique Bunbury), Azul (Natalia Lafourcade), La llave de mi corazon (Juan Lulis Guerra), Mi Princesa (Victor Cruz), and Inevitable (Samo).  We have used authentic “clippings” from current events, exercises of rote practice, lots of picture prompts of incredible, bizarre or interesting situations, and even more speaking/listening prompts.  Up next: another song, this time, Exigimos (We demand) by Doctor Krapula (from Colombia).

Exigimos was the song that was playing in class on Tuesday when the students were entering.  I had also used it as “background” music while working on other activities last week.  After the bell rang, we took a preliminary look at the lyrics for Exigimos and then quickly moved to something else. On Wednesday, I placed the students in groups of two and gave each group sentence strips (in vibrant colors) for the first verse of the song.  They listened one time to the verse, putting the strips in the correct order.  Next, they quickly discussed the meanings of the lyrics, identified the subjunctive verbs and the reason for the subjunctive verbs, and also the infinitive for each verb.

Exigimos parte 1 verse one in order

photo 6I then gave them verse two with 12 verbs on separate pieces of paper.  The first thing that they did was divide the verbs into two columns: present indicative and present subjunctive.  Again they quickly determined the meaning of the verbs.  I then had them orally change the subjunctive to indicative and vice versa.  I then played the second verse of the song (two times) and they placed the verbs in the correct places on the paper. Once again, they determined what the second verse was singing and the reasons for the subjunctive verbs.

Exigimos parte 2 subjunctive verb in blank

photo 5As a class, we had a discussion about why the group would be singing about “demands” for Colombia.  I taught about two thirds of these students in Spanish III, so they had a good background for discussion based on a big unit we did on Colombia in Spanish III.

The third part of working with this song involved the spoken part of Exigimos.  The students definitely struggled with the first two lines in this part, so I had them determine for everything else first. As a class, we then worked with those first two lines.  Individually, they completed the four questions based on this section.  The last part of this marathon with the song was a Free Write that was completed as the song was playing again.  Prior to beginning the Free Write, I told them that I expected to see subjunctive in their writing…that they could “bullet” items if they wanted to do that, but that subjunctive had to play a role in their writing.  When the song was finished, they exchanged papers and had a peer read it, with the option of circling the subjunctive verbs they saw.  I gave them an additional moment to correct or add anything.  Finally, they completed a shorter Free Write (about 3 minutes) on the reverse side.  This dealt with applying cultural knowledge to the song.  I collected the paper and scored it for content (15 points) as well as subjunctive use (5 points).  As a whole, almost every student scored well with the content assessment, and I was pleased with what they knew and were able to say.  The use of the subjunctive was more uneven, with students who did really well, and others who did not. Below are some of their responses.

Exigimos parte 3 la parte hablada y Free Write

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4There will be another part of this lesson tomorrow as I will ask students (in small groups) to come up with a list of “demands” that they could create as students in our school.  I will then ask them individually to write seven demands:  Exigo que…..

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