Friday, March 24, 2017

Guernica- The Art of War- Resources for teaching Guernica

The Art of War 
#See updated developments below

The Art of War is my unit title for teaching about Guernica. I started this unit a few years ago as a middle school teacher, and now that I am at a high school, it blossomed considerably. Our finale to the Spanish Civil War unit, for which you can access information here, was this mini-unit on Guernica, which includes a PBL action component. After learning about the reasons undergirding this powerful piece of protest art, students had to dig deep and find a cause that was Guernica worthy and start the creative process of bringing awareness to their issue. Guernica was our inspiration or muse for the resultant personal projects (collages are below, but this is only the first part). You can see the planning documents and first part of the projects below. 

Starting with Guernica

To pique students' interest in Guernica, I used a few videos on the subject from Youtube, one being this awesome trailer of Guernica to the left. Although students had some familiarity with the topic, due to our unit on the Spanish Civil War unit, they were very interested in this trailer, and of course, they wanted to watch the movie (maybe just to pass the time in class).

Click here for Trailer 

Guernica 3D video 

Prior to the video that is highlighted below, I projected the painting of Guernica and had students jot down what they observed. Students could readily identify the following: 

  • El toro 
  • Las personas 
  • La luz

We discussed how the painting portrayed the atrocity of Guernica, and students responded accordingly.  I asked them to list and to add an interpretation of each of the items they pointed out.

Side note, the last time I implemented this unit, I had the Guernica Image painting enlarged. I had 15 printed and students gathered around in groups to view, more microscopically, the elements of the painting. This year, I had a different approach. I found this really nifty video on Youtube video that showed the painting three-dimensionally. The room was silent as students were so tuned-in to the slow moving pieces parading across the screen. 

 Short Expository Video about Guernica 

Click here for the video 

We watched this quick video about Guernica in Spanish. It supported the first video, because it give an interpretation of the events.  The video does not have subtitles, but I stopped periodically and asked questions such as: 

1. ¿Quién estuvo en París?  
2. ¿Qué hacía el hombre en París?
3. ¿Cuáles fueron las ciudades bombadeadas? 
4. ¿Qué significa la bombilla? 

After learning about Guernica and the causes that compelled Picasso to denounce the Fascist campaign. Students had to develop their own artistic "campaigns" that were "Guernica worthy."  Below is the first page of the packet that recapped "el siniestro" and led-in to their project.  

Here is what followed (this was done over two 90- minute classes, I think): 

1. Students read the prompt, which discussed Guernica in Spanish (more comprehensible input).  They then paired up with a partner and thought 5 global issues that Picasso would take on, this is part of the packet. 

2. After thinking and discussing the issues, I gave them this article that I compiled and modified from sources online. It is from the #Niunamenos Campaign, decrying the violence against women in Spain. I listen to Radio National every morning, and this was central to much of the reporting.

3. Students read the article, responded to the questions (the usual). 

4. They were given the prompt below, which was a collage I put together on the issue of #Niunamenos, to give them an example of a powerful issue (this was to weed out topics such as "Call of Duty is the best game ever!). For this collage, students had to choose 6-7 powerful images that would visually depict their topic. The goal was to: 

-Create a visual portrayal of their issue, much like Picasso did
-Conduct preliminary research on their issue
-Present the collage to the teacher first, for an oral interview. 

PBLL Connection 
The collage is one of several assessments and products we are producing.  Students will eventually create a presentation of their issue to create awareness of other learners of the language (some class time was devoted to research, which was carefully scaffolded through the packet information). Stay tuned so your students can check them out!

Discussing collages 

Side note: prior to speaking about their collage, they had a quick write (best idea ever!). For this quick write, they could discuss any part of their project that choose. It was not graded but will give them feedback right in time for the next writing assignment. 

Below are some examples of student collages. Today they had their interview, where they explained their problem, causes and effects and solutions that have been attempted in solving the issue. 

Since they have been working on this for a few classes, I was really impressed with how knowledgeable students were when presenting their problems. Students who struggled with fluency in the beginning of the year had grown leaps and bounds from the structure and constantly revisiting their research. 

You'll notice that most collages have words around them. I had the research 15 words related to their topic and post around the boards of the collage. When they had their interviews, most incorporated these words naturally into their discourse. Some of the topcis were: 

Racismo ambiental 
Matrimonios forzadas 
La pobreza entre los veteranos 
El blanqueamiento de la comunidad Latinx
(the packet they received walked them through every aspect of the research!)

TED Talk Quality Presentations in Spanish  (update)

This PBLL project is the most fun, yet challenging undertaking I have done all year. What seemed like a similar task, has unfolded into a complex set of steps that required more scaffolding, more thinking out of the box and more experimentation. I let me kids know today " hey, I am planning as we go, so be patient." However, the ad hoc planning at times has paid off. Although it seems like it is being dragged out (we dedicate a class period to the specific part of the project), but I have to say, that the time spent each class on crafting a specific part of the project, is paying off in "quality dividends."

After creating a collage of their problem, students engaged in research to properly define their problem in Spanish. This part of the project lent itself to "grammar lessons on demand" I gave them the planning sheets below to help them get started. For the initial steps they had to: 

1. Define the problem (present/ past)
2. Describe why the problem was complex (present)
3. Describe the cause/effect relationship with respect to people populations and the environment (past tenses)
4. Discuss solutions that have been attempted to solve the problem (past, present/ present perfect)
5. What would happen if... (conditional/subjunctive)

Crafting a Creative Title 

Yesterday, we spent the better half of class generating titles for our projects. The goal was to come up with a topic that was an attention-grabber. Below are the examples of some of the intriguing ones: 

Tema: El matrimonio forzado
Título: La cadena perpetúa: las niñas esposas 

Tema: El abuso de los trabajadores en Qatar 
Título: Tarjeta roja para Qatar: los nuevos esclavos. 

Crafting a Powerful Introduction (en español)

Well, if you are going to have a creative title, you better back it up with a dynamic and engaging introduction. This is what we worked on today!  Part of my push for having an attention-grabbing, thought-provoking introduction, is to ensure that students do their topic justice. Some have chosen really complex issues, and they to step up to the plate and give convincing testimonies. Also, I am sooo tired of students starting their introduction with the same "ole" Mi proyecto es sobre.... I decided to spice it up a bit and introduce some powerful ways to present. I am reading a book called  Talk Like Ted , so these techniques crept into this unit. 

I gave students four options for engaging their audience. I read an article regarding techniques for capturing the audience's attention within the first 60 seconds of the presentation, and we went while. They choose from the following: 

1. Use of an anecdote (historieta). One group is presenting on Child Labor in Ghana, and they are telling a short story of one of the children affected by the lack of protections in the fishing industry. 

2. Share a shocking statistic 

3. Thought-provoking questions 

4. Invite the audience to experience something through the lens of another (Imgina que.., Qué tal si tú)

I am encouraging students to use two techniques, to add to the richness. 

I administered the sheet below and provided options in addition to the structures that students would most likely choose for each of the sections (Introduction/Body/Conclusion). 

Feedback from students 
Many students who struggled with output are finding that writing, talking, creatiing, etc, with regards to their projects are really helping. One student I spoke with today, for the first time was very fluent in his speech. As I reflected, I realized that had multiple "touches" with the topic. The repition and constantly explaining is helping. It is also a project that they are passionate about. 

Gracias for checking out my blog post!
Once these projects are completed, my students will post them for other Spanish learners to see. I hope your students could check them out!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spanish Civil War: Leading with Inquiry- flipping the script in the WL classroom

La Guerra Civil Española- PBLL Style: Comprensible Input Meets Inquiry-based Learning!

For those of you Spanish teacher history buffs, I want to say that I am totally a novice when it comes to teaching the Spanish Civil war.  Many years ago, I did a Guernica unit for my 7th-grade students (materials coming soon!), and we did not take a deep dive into the Spanish Civil war. This year, I am teaching Spanish 4, and our school is embarking on a PBLL curriculum; I choose the revive that old unit. This will be a two-part blog post; the first part lays the groundwork for the unit, building content knowledge and engagement in project-based learning, and second post dives into the Guernica and the PBL inquiry-action component, all in Español! Here is my story. 

Shifting Approach to Teaching Language
I'd like to echo Spanish Mama's sentiment when she stated in a previous blog post that her philosophy of teaching was "evolving" )check out her post here.)  This has definitely become my story this year. With 90-minute block classes and the consistent flow of research pumping through the veins of language teaching community, it wasn't long before I got a transfusion myself. Teaching this unit has given me more insight into language acquisition, conceptual and inquiry-based learning. Although all of those components are not covered in this post (next one for sure), I'd like to share some activities that really helped my students connect with the content through the medium of language.  

Mi granito de arena 
Now, there are many great teachers who do bang-up jobs on presenting the Spanish Civil War and Guernica. You may want to check out Kristy Plácido's blog, as she has some really nice stuff.  I am just adding to the corpus of work that has been done already.  That said, with this unit, I really changed the way I engaged students. 

Learning about history inquiry-based style in a CI classroom 
Instead of providing students with a reading on aspects of the Spanish Civil War, I decided to let them research these aspects on their own. It was simple: 

  • Listed 8 different topics related to the conflict 
  • Curated a few websites in English  
  • Assigned student groups 
  • Did a mini-lesson on how to research in English and convey information in basic Spanish 

Throw Reciprocal teaching into the mix!

The pictures above posters students creating posters for gaining a preliminary knowledge about the Spanish Civil War. This was my introductory activity (opposed to doing a scavenger hunt, short reading even a video- all of which are good).  The goal was to create an information highway class from which students could be informed of various causes and players of the Spanish Civil War (The PBL final component will in the next post, this is just the beginning)

 This was just an 
introductory activity and they put so much 
heart and soul into it!

Comprehensible Input Meets Inquiry-based Learning

Hack: Instead of giving students something to read and take notes on, they each became experts on an aspect of the war. 

  • Students presented to the class (repetition, recycling)
For the presentations, we made a list of expressions (most teachers have great lists they give to students). I noticed that each group looked at the board and chose an expression or lead-in that vibed well with their presentation. 
  • Students circulated, looked at the board and collected the information. 
Click here for the note taking document

We viewed this video in English after the introduction activity. Although this was not in the target language, I filled in gaps for students who were learning this for the first time.

Spanish Civil War in 3 minutes

Check out this video in Spanish 

Spanish Civil War Gallery and Reciprocal Teaching 

After working on the "Teaching Boards" I had students present to class. This was not for a grade, but more of a formative assessment check-in. After presenting, students displayed their boards around the class, they were given the note-taking document below, and they went around taking notes on each of the aspects of the Spanish Civil War. Again, this was their incursion into the unit. We'd begin officially after this. 

Matamoscas in pairs

Click here for resource

I have been working at my new school for about 2.5 years now. I used to teach MYP IB Spanish grades 6-8 for 10 years. Teaching at a high school was very challenging in the beginning. The 90 minute block periods- were another challenge. I share this because we don't really have textbooks and I have had to create the curriculum from scratch. One of the challenges I have had in the past was making sure everything aligned, the vocabulary was part of the reading (I started writing my own novels and other modified informational texts to satisfy the inner writer in me). This unit, I can saw, without a shadow of a doubt, had a high degree of aligned. Having a bit of time prior to the unit, I was able to:

  • Identify resources need for the unit. For this unit, I actually wrote some material a few years ago, but since we subscribe to Mary Glasgow, I used their reading and video on the Spanish Civil War. If you go to their website, you can get up to 4 free downloads. It is an extremely well- resourced site. We based most of our curriculum off the plethora of resources.

  • Design summative assessments
  • Identify words and concepts necessary for understanding the Spanish Civil War 
  • Create vocabulary lists
  • Create games with the vocabulary (see my
  • Matamoscas PPT and paired activity)

Resource Central (Freebies)

Click here for the activities below!
This free packet includes:

  • Vocabulary sheet
  • Paired students interview using the vocabulary words
  • Sentence writing activity
  • Student inquiry-activity
  • Note-taking activity for "Inquiry-gallery"
Multiple Exposures to Vocabulary Promotes Acquisition 
I am reading the book Language Teacher Toolkit by Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti. It is a great book with lots of insight on strategies for teaching a world language. One of the premises of learning a language is multiple exposures, repeated exposure to vocabulary and structures. This is no secret as the Comprehensible Input theory, community, and practitioners all laud this concept. In their book, they make the case for multiple exposures and what happens on a neurological level. Repeated exposure allows the brain, as they stated (page 59) to make viable connections. Words are associated with memorable moments. The activities implemented in this activity did just that. I saw a marked improvement in vocabulary production during speaking tasks and writing task related to the unit.  

For this unit, the video provided two assessments: Listening and Writing.
This is still an ongoing unit, but I have managed to administer two assessments, both on which students performed really well. I accredit their performance to the "multiple exposure" model and the inquiry-based style of learning that hooked them from the beginning. After the initial research, they were speaking like experts and was able to build shared background knowledge (all working together). 

Additional resources for teaching Spanish Civil War:

Propoganda Lesson on the Spanish Civil War (I saw this later, looks really good).

La hija del sastre- check out fluency (we have this book, and I like it. This year, we did not get to engage due to our school's PBL mandates).

Time in Between on Nexflix (I have materials for the first episode, will be included in the next post)

The student action-inquiry PBLL product will be addressed in the next few posts. The next post to this unit will be, Guernica. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Killer story for Spanish 2+: Casi me mata el celular

Casi me mata el celular, a short story for Spanish class!

 Last summer, I wanted to write a story that would pique the interest of young 
boys/men in the class. There is quite a body of L1 research highlighting the discrepancy between girls and boys reading habits and interest. In the world language classroom, I have seen with my own students how the girls gobble up literature and the boys, well, they take time in finding their "reading stride." This short story, Casi me mata el celular, was conceived with the purpose of "enganchando" the boys in the class and adding details that would involve them in the story (synopsis below). There is a little bit of guy humor, mild violence and allusion to popular video games that surrounds the problem-saturated drama.  Although this novella, is great for boys, the girls won't shy away, there is something here for everyone (very odd blooming romance from two unlikely characters-unnervingly hilarious). 

So, if your students are looking for a crime/suspense novel with a bold adventure, Casi me mata el celular, will satisfy your students' thrill-seeking quest. The story could be a great addition to your FVR library or even a quick class read. It comes with a Teacher Manual with 26 activities that include speaking, writing and reading comprehension in addition to vocabulary lists. Check out the specs:

Casi me mata el celular- Click here for preview 

Vocabulary: Technology related/ Crime 
Target structures: Preterite, Imperfect, some subjunctive
There is a mild gun violence (3rd chapter), it is the crux of what they see. 

Federico and his friends have a pretty simple life. They love to play basketball, soccer and go skateboarding at the park. They also love to go to their favorite hangout out, La librería, El Curioso: the only abandoned building left in a slowly up and coming town. This space gives them the privacy they need to practice pranks and other hilarious stunts to upload to Youtube. But the night of Friday the 13, their joke goes sour. While shooting the breeze and popping firecrackers, they stumble upon an uncanny situation. In an effort to satisfy their curiosity, they witness something will change their lives forever. Now the boys have to try to make it out of this situation, alive. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Las drogas y otros problemas: Creating real connections for teens in Spanish class

Creating real connections for teens in Spanish class: Las drogas y otros problemas 

Check out my previous post two free activities: "Que descanse en paz Cayetano" and CSI Laguna Negra. 

Click here for activities

Los problemas que enfrentan los adolescentes 

El Internado season 2, episode 1, starts off with the death of Cayetano. We watched the first 20-30 minutes of the first episode of this new season and students did these two activities: 

Que descanse en paz and CSI Laguna Negra

Click here for activities

The CSI activity was originally for the third installment of the Spanish 3+ series, El muerto en el armario (La muerte de un personaje queridísimo). But it works for El Internado as well!  After students complete those activities above such as reviewing the previous episodes and circumstances of his death, we watch the next 20 minutes of episode 1 of season 2. 
Discussing the real issues that impact teens every day

Once my students found out the cause of Caye's death, they were shocked, and rightly so. There was no indication that he used drugs (which sadly was the case for a former student of mine at a different school). There were no hints or foreshadowing during the previous episodes. Before it is revealed that this was probably a setup, I indulged the topic with my class. 

I curated a short reading and created a communication/ debate activity around the topic. Even if you don't use El Internado, the mini-activity on current teen issues could spark some good discussion in Spanish class. 

Activity: Las drogas y la presión social 

Students had to complete the statement below and then share with a partner. 

  1. Completa la frase según tu opinión o criterio:  El problema más grande hoy entre los jóvenes es_________________________________. 
This gave students the opportunity to look at teen problems through their particular lens. They responded to the prompt, substantiating their ideas (and using "la razón por la cual) to frame their thoughts. 

  • I had students pair up, compare and share with other classmates. Their opinions differed widely because there is quite a bit of diversity (age, race, class, gender, experience, etc) in the class. 


This resource was curated from the website below. There are about 8 pages of the actual article, but I just provided the first page with a ranking scale. Students ranked their reasons and then shared out with a partner and then the rest of the class. 

After the sharing, students circulated around the class and asked other students their respective opinions. We shared out and a brief debate ensued, as some students were very adamant about one reason over the other. Students then created a mini drug campaign, this is included in the resource. Then, we continued watching the episode. Post implementation, I added a few reflection questions.  

Click here for the mini lesson

Internet Security and Saftey 

This video is a great resource for discussing the perils of using technology.  I did this originally with my unit on Identity, click here for the context of the unit. , but it can be a powerful visual stimulus and reminder of the dangers lurking on the internet. 

A. With power, comes great responsibility 
Video: Antes de colgar tu imagen en la red, piénsalo

One of my writing prompts asked students to compare their generation to their parents' generation.

Since "technology" was the reigning king of that comparative discussion, I decided to include the video above and additional discussion questions to explore how technology shapes identity.  Although the video and activity were kind of a side bar, they actually highlight a key point in our upcoming text " La vida de los adolescentes.Said text highlights how young people's identities morph and adapt to different social media fora. Furthermore, the text suggests that having "a solid" identity is a challenge for this generation. The writing prompt featured belongs to a series of 11 prompts dealing with Identity.  Click here for the free writing prompts used with this unit.

Video link: Antes de colgar tu imagen en la web

This was totally an afterthought, but this social media inventory might also be a good activity to do before the video (I am kicking myself for not thinking of this beforehand).

Discussion Questions and note about the video

One of the questions asks students to create hastag for the video. In order for this to work organically, you have to stop the video right before the end so that the video's tagline does not appear. It was a fun activity and students were able to incorporate direct object pronouns naturally. 

Más recursos para "dinamintar" la clase de español 

Internado-S1 E5 El debate y la rebelión (Freebie) 

Internado: Gossip Column- Creating writing, dialogue and grammar practice (Freebie)

Check out my store for more compelling and creative activities!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

CSI Laguna Negra:¿Quién mató a Cayetano? Detective writing activity and more!

 ¿Quién mató a Cayetano? 

I have had such a busy last few weeks. I usually try to blog once every two weeks, but between presenting at a workshop, semester I finals and family obligations, well, I just could not find the time.  But now that I am getting back into the swing of things, and finding my stride again with the curriculum; I have lots to share, so let's get started!!!

A few things on the radar: 
Be on the look out for these useful resources: 

¡Hay algo para todos!
For you amantes de Frida, you will love the "Arte Sin Limites."  These resources features a creative twist on teaching her art and persona. It includes (mostly free) PowerPoint, readings and a mini art project. 

Teaching the Spanish Civil War or Guernica? The Guernica PBLL Unit will be just right for you. 

Wondering how to incorporate interesting comprehensible informational texts in your Spanish 1 or 2 class?  The Spain PBLL Spanish +1 unit will tickle your fancy. A brief history of Spain, Flamenco Dancing, vocabulary lists, dialogues and two PBLL components served up as the final dish. All for Spanish 1, I have seen my students speaking skills soar!

Internado Aficionados- Be on the look out for S2: E1 mini lesson on drugs and other teen issues.  

Novelas- we can't live without them!
For students who like suspenseful, slightly mafioso stories, well "Casi me mata el celular" packs in a treat for them! This story is for Spanish 2+

Last, but not least is the third installment to the series "El muerto en el armario." Although this book is part 3 of the series, it could actually be read as a stand alone. There are enough flashbacks to the drama in Las apariencias engañan and El muerto en el armario to set the stage for the next frontier. It is the quasi-sci-fi finale. 

Bueno, I hope those piqued your interest. Now, let's get started on El Internado!

                          CSI Laguna Negra 

It is no secret (if you have read my other blog posts), I love El Internado, and so do my students. I have seamlessly interwoven this intriguing series into the fabric of my curriculum by exploring pertinent themes presented in more depth.  This has allowed my students to make personal connections, discuss real world issues and expand their language skills repertoire (S2: E1 mini lesson on drugs and other teen issues, hits the spot!)    

For example, during the beginning of the year, while we were exploring the construct of "Identity," we used the first few episodes of El Internado (available on Netflix) to discuss teen identity. Likewise, once we embarked on our Relationships unit, well, El Internado gave us a lot of fodder. We engaged in vibrant discussions, and debates about topics such as "what is the appropriate 'dating' age for teens." there were lots of opinions there.  These activities really enlivened the class. 

For this past viewing session (we see watch it on a biweekly basis), El Internado delivered, yet again. For the first episode of the second season, students learn about the death of Cayetano during the first 20 minutes or so of the episode (S2: E1). 

After watching the initial 20 minutes,  we had to pay our respects to Cayetano.  I gave students the activity sheet to the right. Students then formed groups of 4 to express their thoughts, condolences and wrote positive messages to the first student causality of the series; he is the first of many. 

Click here for the RIP resource

Then, we turn our gaze to a more investigative lens: Who killed Cayetano?

This activity can immediately follow the RIP one listed above. While they are in a state of shock, give them this activity. This activity not only allows them to learn vocabulary for processing a crime scene, but it serves also as a way to review from on episode to the next. If you are like me, I usually show them a few weeks apart, so this came in handy. They will: 

  • review the previous episode by reviewing the crime scene, 
  • discuss the victim 
  • think through the line-up of mysterious characters at El Internado.

Here it is how it all went down

1. Students watched the first 25-30 minutes of the episode. Here they learn which students have died as chapter 6 leaves off on a suspenseful cliff. 

2. Distribute activity to students and have them work through describing the events surrounding his death. With the many mysterious occurrences in El Internado, encourage them to think outside the box and name some suspects. Looking through this lens, Fermín could be a suspect. 

3. For the Informe Policiaco, I had my students use the subjunctive (last part) to write a recommendation on who investigate and why. They used structures such as “es necesario que investiguemos muy rápido” and the like when pressuring their “jefe de policía.” 

Click here for the CSI Laguna Negra Activity

Internado-S1 E5 El debate y la rebelión (Freebie) 

Internado: Gossip Column- Creating writing, dialogue and grammar practice (Freebie)

Check out my store for more compelling and creative activities!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Spanish class activity:The Deeper Purposes of Art: Walking Murals at the Women's March

The Deeper Purposes of Art: Walking Murals 
It is an undeniable fact that this past weekend's Women's March was a powerful and courageous antidote to the incisively degrading political rhetoric that has dominated recent headlines. Due to it being slightly polarizing to some students and families, I had no intention of discussing the March in class, as we are dead in the heat of pre-finals warfare. However, I had a sudden mind shift when I received this picture from my department chair; it's a great real world connection to our unit on Art. We are in the midst of deconstructing Frida, along with the significance of art and its multifaceted purposes.  This past week we looked at different art movements and the currents moving her work. This picture captures one of the purposes of art and could be placed in a variety of movements. I thought this was good food for thought, and my students ate it up!  

Prior to digging into Frida, we looked at an article I had curated titled "Qué es el arte "(I will share this in a later post). We learned, in several class periods, the different views of art and some of the basic movements; these documents were our guiding principles that we'd revisit with each artist.    

We started off with the question "what is art." My students had a lot to say. You can see from the whiteboard collage we made in class.  I had students go to the board and write their own definition of art. We read the article, which highlighted quotes from several artists and art critics. You can see the quotes below. 

Monday's Lesson 
On the Monday following the Women's March (we are in Chicago), we looked at the poster first and then, described the picture, discussed the impact of the words (they used their art vocabulary, which can be found clicking this link to quizlet.) and lastly   impact of the social context (for aiding interpretation) and then like a math problem, we tried to solve for X. 

Guiding Questions  1. ¿Qué evento fue y cómo lo sabes? 
2. En tu opinión, ¿es una obra de arte? ¿En qué consiste el arte? 
3. Describe lo que ves en la obra de arte. ¿Cuáles son los colores? ¿Qué impactan tienen? 
4. ¿Qué rol juega el contexto en nuestra interpretación del arte?
5. ¿Cuál cita de arte (de los críticos) mejor explique la función de arte? 
6.  Esta "obra de arte" puede ser un ejemplo del muralismo, ¿por qué  sí o no? 
7. ¿Cuál es el impact que tiene sobre ti?
8. ¿A qué movimiento pertence?

This was our Campanazo (supposedly, a five- minute warm-up) and what a great catalyst for discussion it was!. We discussed the symbolism of the picture and the meaning behind the lady's mouth being covered. Many of my students, most of the boys, had a hard time relating. When I asked if they felt an impact or connection, most responded "no". So then, I had really dig deep and flip the question so that gender quality could be neutralized: I followed up with these questions to bring them into the conversation; I started by asking: 

Have you ever felt that your voice didn't matter? 
¿Has sentido alguna vez sin el poder de decidir o sin una voz? 
Have you parents made decisions about you without your input? 

¿Tus padres han tomado decisiones sin involucrar tus ideas o perspectivas? 

Did you have a part in contributing to your final exams (this really got their hands up).

¿Has podido colaborar con los profesores en la creación de los exámenes finales? - this really got them!

After seeing the sea of hands, and the boys finding "their voice" the lesson was, we can all relate to the lady in the painting. We have all felt "silenced" one way or another. I guess my point was "no one is off the hook" and we could all relate to each other's experience one way or another. 

The second "light bulb" moment was discussing the terms of Muralismo and then looking at the picture. From the article I curated, students had these definitions below of the art movements we studied prior to diving into Frida (I am still editing the article, and will share soon!). The lesson here was looking beyond a fixed definition and thinking more broadly in terms of the "spirit" of the movement or core philosophical values and purpose; looking at the "why" instead of being fixated on the "what."

Muralismo- un movimiento artístico comenzado en México a principios del siglo XX. Fue creado por un grupo de intelectuales después de la revolución mexicana. Los artistas o muralistas transformaron espacios públicos en lienzos grandes donde se reflejaban sus mensajes politicos y sociales. 

The primary goal was to make them think "outside the canvas" and think more about the "spirit" of a movement and not the letter. Many students clung to the textbook example Muralismo, which centers on it being fixed in public spaces; but this was a public space, and the art was fluid, could it be Muralismo?   After going back and forth we came to the following conclusion: 

The artwork shares various elements of Muralismo, because it: 

-It shares a strong political message- directed to the people
-Transforms (albeit temporarily) a public place (I coined the term Muralismo Andante).
-Although it does not totally comply with technical definition (I am no expert, I dabble here and there in the arts), it does comply philosophically. 

It was a lively debate (and review for an upcoming assessment). We spent about 30 minutes discussing the picture. 

Stay tuned for more on Frida: Arte sin limites

Friday, January 20, 2017

Free Short Story and Scaffolding Resources for Spanish Class

La Chica Nueva: Short story for Spanish class levels 3-5
Free Resource 

I want my students to read, be intrigued, acquire vocabulary in new ways and conceptually understand the interplay grammatical structures- all while having fun! I love it when their eyes roll across the pages and a smile slowly cracks across their faces, their eyes light up and it's obvious; they are caught up in the gravitational pull of a good novel or story. I was attempting to recreate those moments with La Nueva Alumna. 

This short story started out essentially as a review piece. My plan was for students to review structures and vocabulary prior to a writing assessment. But then, I soon realized that students really liked the story (this happened with a few other stories), so the original one-page review activity blossomed to a short story about one of the characters in El Internado. 

Although La Nueva Alumna is loosely based on one of the characters of the Internado series (which is available on Netflix), rest assured that your students don't have to be familiar with the series to understand the storyline (See the synopsis below). 

However, on the flipside, if your students are engrossed in the drama of El Internado, then this story will be perfect for them (after episode 5) for a number of reasons: 
  • It houses many of the expressions used in the series, along with some common ones used in everyday language. 
  • The text gives ample opportunity to practice core structures such as the preterit, imperfect, subjunctive and conditional (more subjunctive than anything, that was our target structure). 
  • It sheds light on Vicky's socio-economic status and leaving her other friends behind (little back story) 
  • Touches on her being colada y enamorada hasta las trancas de Iván (pobrecita, ¿verdad?) 
  • Contains dialogue that approximates native speakers' vernacular and idiosyncrasies (my students love dialogue) and it's not overbearing. In fact, many words and expressions are detailed in the footnotes. 
Students always ask me, so, do you have a story for everything? Yes, I do!

We were just about the review our target structures prior to an extended response writing assessment. Instead of the regular grammar review, which is sometimes the necessary evil, I  created this story to include the structures, the idioms and the backstory of one of the characters in our beloved series: El Internado. 

 Once I witnessed how students reacted with reading some of the other dialogues in stories in the class, I couldn't resist.We've done similar activities in the past, but not his in-depth. If you are an Internadista,  Click here for more Episode 4 Internado summary dialogue.  If you are more of a watch and creative writing type,  there is something for you, click here.  If your class loves to debate, you have to click here for the Amelia and Elsa faceoff (both resources are free).  If you are looking other interesting compelling reading drenched with drama and laced with your favorite-no-matter-how-much-I-teach-they-still-don't-get-it structures(kinda long, I know), then click here for the well-reviewed series: Skeletons in the closet (El muerto en el armario). Now that we got all of that out of the way, shall we dive into our short story?

La Nueva Alumna is a fictionalized account of Vicky’s journey to the prestigious boarding school: El Internado. It gives a bit of a back story highlighting her working class roots, and her major crush on Iván, another pivotal character from the series.  This story was originally written as a cloze-text practice of language structures such as the present and past subjunctive and the preterite and imperfect. Said formative assessment was administered to students after viewing episode 5 of El Internado, when it became clear that Vicky was colada con Iván. The story presents a mix of narration and dialogue, which could be easily acted out in class or in groups!

La Nueva Alumna has five short sections: 
1. La hija de la frutera 
2. La gran noticia
3. El primer día 
4. Cómo salir de la zona de amigos

5. La chica de mis sueños 

This story packet has the following activities and resources

  1. Short Story: La Nueva Alumna
  2. Unfamiliar vocabulary is footnoted in the text. 
  3. Pre-reading vocabulary and Spanish Idiom activity (some expressions are used in the series El Internado and other are common expressions).  
  4. Comprehension questions 
  5. Pre-reading grammar subjunctive activity 
  6. Cloze-text fill in the blank abridged version of the story to practice the subjunctive (mood), preterit and imperfect tenses. 
Please enjoy and consider giving it a rating on TPT!