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!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day Fix- Short story for Spanish 1 (or 2)

¡Un cuentito perfecto para el día de San Valentín!

Excerpt from chapter 2: El profesor Martín (Free Teacher's Manual of Confesiones)
...Carlos mira a Jessica. Ella saca su cuaderno, una pluma rosada y su móvil. Él piensa que Jessica es muy hermosa. Le gusta su cara. Le gusta su pelo porque ella siempre tiene peinados interesantes. Le gustan sus zapatos y su ropa.  Pero, lo que más le gustan, son sus ojos. Le gustan los ojos de Jessica. Sus ojos son grandes y cafés. Carlos ya no mira a Jessica porque alguien está bloqueando su vista.
-Carlos- no la mires tanto- dice el profesor Martín. 

El profesor Martín mira a Carlos mientras Carlos mira a Jessica.  

-¿Tienes tú la tarea?  - dice el profesor. 

-No, no la tengo. ¿La puedo traer mañana?- pregunta Carlos

-Si no miras a Jessica tal vez puedes hacer tu tarea- dice el profesor. 
Carlos mira al profesor. 

-Yo no acepto el trabajo tardío- dice el profesor

-¿Puede usted hacer una excepción? Yo tuve práctica de beisbol. ¿Puedo traer la tarea mañana? - pregunta Carlos, otra vez.  

-Más te vale- dice el profesor. 

Click below for the preview
La clase de confesiones

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Carlos. Not only does the teacher shakes things up in class, but a normal run-of-mill- writing assignment turns fatal for Carlos' social life. In an attempt to "pair" Carlos with the girl he has been crushing on, the teacher makes a critical move that backfires and throws Carlos' life into a tailspin. As Carlos tries to dig himself out of this hole, he actually digs it deeper! He endures endless teasing and gossipy teachers as everyone discovers his secret. He is literally in a "camiseta de once varas." Carlos soon realizes that his mentiras can only get his so much mileage and that only can the truth set him free....but will it be enough for Jessica?

Themes: Friendship, Love, Bullying, Decisions, and Character.

I created this story for my Spanish I novice-mid class. Yes, your students can read it and enjoy it at the novice level!  After countless mini stories and quizlet-self-engaged vocabulary sets, they still had difficulty with some of the basic vocabulary. I knew the target structures they needed to learn but I also thought it'd be fun to familiarize them with native expressions I used in class. Students will immediately see themselves and their teachers reflected in the story (I got some good teacher lines in there as well, all the things you ever wanted to say).  

The story features most vocabulary associated with classroom such as school supplies, classes, class furniture, prepositional phrases and activities related to the classroom activities. Stretching their vocabulary a bit, there is a little bit of poetry from one of the characters such as “ ella es el sol que ilumina mi día” in addition to common idiomatic expressions such as más te vale, no lo aguanto ni en pintura.  Phrases such as these are footnoted, listed in the pre-reading vocabulary and practiced in pre-reading exercises.  My student also used some of this vocabulary to talk about their other teachers (what happens in Spanish class stays in Spanish class!).

 As students read this story, they were on the edge of their seats (they wanted to read aloud because it was fun. I was the narrator to keep the flow). There is considerable dialogue for it to be read aloud. There are also some lines for the whole class such as "¡Vaya!" and "!Ohhhhhh!" during an intense (appropriate to level) debate in chapter 10 (my boys loved this!).  The boys were rooting for Carlos the whole time (Dude, why did you do that?- Jamal), and the girls fell in love with his attempts to woe Jessica (and other funny characters- Rubén is a riot). I had originally wrote only 5 chapters, but they wanted to know what ever happened with Carlos and Jessica, so I finished with La Bella Mentira. The ending will not disappoint. 

Amazing Side Note 
As a post-reading assignment, they begged to write a sequel and prequel so I have them class time to do this (We were at the end of the unit and it was time to assess and move on). One of my students, who came with no experience whatsoever in Spanish, wrote one of the best alternative endings. I included the brief synopsis below. I will include the full narrative after winter break.  

The students were asking me the feminine version of Patán (jerk), the name Jessica calls Carlos in the story (intense scene, but funny). So I could only think of mosquita muerta. Well, Hannah ended up using it in her story. Also, one of the motivations of Carlos' lie was that he had been rejected. She included this, the past tense phrase (not many) in the story into her narrative. It was beautiful and made me think of how students really are sponges. 
Free Teacher's Manual 

Check out the free Teacher’s Manual for this storyIt features 17 front-loading during reading and post-comprehension exercises. This bundle includes pre-reading vocabulary and sentence activity, a Quizlet set (for you techies), sentence writing activities, cloze-text reading text for the story, practice test, listening exercise (you read a passage and students fill out the activity) in addition to contextualized sentences for working some of the idiomatic expressions.  For example, one of the pre-reading activities familiarizes students with some authentic expressions used, such as “ más te vale.” Contextual fill-in-the-blank sentences also offer a unique peek into the story as well as access background knowledge. 

Carlos hates Spanish class with a passion but finds the will to survive when he lays eyes on Jessica. Her presence is both distracting and motivating. However, his secret crush is compromised when his teacher decides to “shake things up a bit” in class. A simple writing assignment turns out to be a lethal injection to his social life and by extension his chances with Jessica. From the nosy teacher inadvertently trying to help him “set him up with Jessica” immediately backfires and turns into one of the most embarrassing moments in Carlos’ life; and Rubén is there to witness it all.  After this incident, Carlos takes matters into his own hands and makes the biggest mistake of his adolescent life. Will his social life ever recover? Will his stunt in class win over Jessica, or will it push her away for good? Carlos learns that las mentiras as tienen patas cortas and that the honest is the best policy. Carlos invites you to come along this adventure into La clase de confesiones….todos tienen una confesión (even the teacher!)

I wish I could say that was the end but..Carlos' adventures don't stop here... Carlos mete la pata otra vez

Part 2, takes the adventure up a notch.

Themes: Redemption, Second Chances, Friendship, Courage, Resilence, Rejection... it's a mixed bag. Carlos learns that "las mentiras tienen patas cortas,'" and the only way to win Jessica is by telling the truth (I hear Jack Nicholson in my ear saying " You can't handle the truth!)

Excerpt from chapter 9: La Bella Mentira 

Es jueves y Carlos está triste. Está triste porque tiene la clase de español. La clase de español ya no es su clase favorita. No es su clase favorita porque Carlos escribe sobre Jessica y todos los estudiantes escuchan el párrafo de Carlos. La clase de español no es su clase favorita porque Carlos dice cosas muy malas del profesor. Ahora Carlos está triste porque Jessica está en la clase de español. Carlos piensa en el mensaje de texto de Jessica << Eres un patán.>>

Antes de la clase, Carlos ve a Lucas, su amigo en el pasillo: 

-Hola Carlos, ¿cómo andas? hermano- dice Lucas. 

-Bastante mal, lee esto- dice Carlos. Carlos le enseña a Lucas el texto de Jessica.  

Lucas lee el primero texto de Jessica 

<<Tengo una confesión: tú eres el chico de la clase de español.  Me gustas también.>>

Lucas responde: 
-Enhorabuena, ¡Jessica te gusta!

No exactamente. -Ahora, lee el otro mensaje- dice Carlos

<<Carlos, yo pienso que yo te gusto pero veo que no. Yo pienso que eres un mentiroso y todo que escribes en la clase de español es una mentira. No me gustan los mentirosos. Yo soy alérgico a los mentirosos.  Yo no quiero hablar más contigo… y otra cosas… Eres un patán- Jessy.>>

Lucas lee el segundo mensaje de texto y responde:

 ¡Caray! Esto no es bueno. 

-Sí, yo sé- dice Carlos con un tono triste. -Y ahora tengo la clase de español. 

Jessica está en la clase. Carlos explica la situación a Lucas. Después, Lucas dice:

-Carlos, ánimo. Yo te ayudo. Tú tienes que ser honesto con ella.  

-¿Honesto?… pero ¿ cómo?- pregunta Carlos.  

-Pues, habla con ella. Dile que tú eres un chico estúpido y que todos necesitamos  una segunda oportunidad.  

-¿Eso es todo?- pregunta Carlos.  

-Sí, no es muy complicado- dice Lucas. 

Carlos leaves Spanish class embarrassed. He had no idea that the teacher was going to pair him up with Jessica, the girls he writes about in his short essay. Adding insult to injury, the teacher reads his essay in from the class; even the mean-spirited things he wrote about his teacher. Carlos goes to Math class and gets his phone taken by the teacher: he never receives the redemptive text message from Jessica. When they meet in the lunchroom, his embarrassment, ignorance, and fear get the best of him. Now, he has to win Jessica back. Carlos learns that the truth always prevails over a lie. He learns how to be honest, vulnerable and to take responsibilities for his actions. Will this be enough for Jessica? Will the truth set him free into the arms of Jessica? 

My favorite expressions included in the story

Más de vale (it's in your best interest)....- the teacher says this throughout

Ni lo aguanta en pintura.-Carlos can't stand any of his teachers, because they challenge him to work... sound familiar?  Needless to say, the students loved this expression.

Decirle su cuarto verdades (to tell someone off)- The math teaher looks through Carlos' phone (after taking it) and tells him that he has a steamy text message (like, Spanish 1, 14 year-old steamy- no sean mal pensados).

Guiñarle el ojo (to wink at )- Rubén does this a lot to the girls in class. I think I have this kid in my class for real.