La Semana Santa en Guatemala: Un cuento para practicar el pretérito y el imperfecto

semana santa guatemala cover image

In keeping with my TPRS challenge for the semester, here is the short story I made for ch. 8 of the textbook Unidos. (Click here for ch. 7’s story!) This (very) short story is for practicing preterit vs. imperfect as well as vocabulary based on Semana Santa in Guatemala.

Here are links to the materials I made based on the story:

semana santa guatemala hoja

Hoja de actividades: “La Semana Santa” (PDF)

Clave de respuestas: “La Semana Santa” (PDF)

Powerpoint: “La Semana Santa en Guatemala

Here’s a video of me reading the story. I make these to give my students (and a small number of youtube subscribers!) the option to read along with me at home.

Also, it is important to note that this story does not provide in-depth details of Semana Santa en Guatemala. My students already watched videos about it, so this story and activity sheet serve to reinforce and practice key concepts. Here are some other video resources about Semana Santa in Guatemala.

Cortometraje: “Día de los muertos” con actividad de escritura para practicar el pretérito vs. imperfecto

 día de los muertos hoja imageBefore you enjoy this enchanting short film, I´d like to share a wonderful article that has helped me tremendously in teaching the preterit/imperfect. I read it in an applied linguistics class with an amazing professor! Here´s a link to the article, “Preterite/Imperfect Half-Truths: Problems with Spanish Textbook Rules for Usage” by Diana Frantzen.

 I also use timelines visually reinforce the concept because that´s what helped me finally understand it. Although, also based on my experience, I think the real key to mastering preterit/imperfect is through authentic communication. Well, that´s true for most everything in language learning actually!

Here´s a link to a PDF worksheet for a writing activity based on the short film: Hoja de actividades: Cortometraje: “Día de los muertos” 

¡Y ahora al cortometraje! The vivid imagery is perfect to inspire students to write descriptions using the imperfect, and although only 3 minutes, there are plenty of events to list to practice the preterit. Once students have time to brainstorm their own ideas, we go over them together. I draw a timeline on the board and mark the events as specific points. As students describe the settings/characters, I make squiggly lines in different colors along the timeline. Finally, students combine the descriptions with the narration of events to write a short story based on the short film.

I also recommend this video by the Travel Channel.

República Dominicana: Introductory culture presentation & activity packet

DR flag mapThe Dominican Republic holds a very special place in my heart, so I was giddy with excitement while I made this presentation to introduce my high school Spanish 1 students to Dominican culture! Please see the slideshow below (featuring many videos, made in Google drive) and free accompanying activity packet.

The activities include a beginning warm-up to activate background knowledge, content & vocabulary comprehension questions, a Venn Diagram to compare/contrast bachata & merengue, analyses of music videos to explore themes of Dominican culture, and a final discussion mini-essay.

I´d like to make a brief note about cultural presentations in general. Whenever I teach culture I do make an effort to make it as authentic as possible, but sometimes I find it quite challenging! How can I portray an entire culture in a few class sessions? Well, of course it’s not possible to cover everything. That’s why I emphasize that this is an introductory presentation and invite students to explore other themes further with questions and follow-up lessons and projects.

visa para un sueñoIt took our class one 90 minute class period (block scheduling) to cover the presentation and activity sheet (some students took the packet home to finish the final discussion question). My students were very engaged and full of questions, so I’d say it was a success!

One important topic that this presentation does not cover is the story of the Mirabal sisters and the Trujillo regime. We covered this topic later in a lesson based around the film adaptation of Julia Alvarez’s novel In the Time of the Butterflies. Please follow this link to see my post about it with a free movie guide question packet!

We also watched the movie Pelotero. It’s a really fun movie, and we watched it as a reward in the last 20-30 minutes of a few class periods. Please follow this link for a post & free movie guide. (Coming soon!)

Here’s a link to the Activity Packet, and you can watch the presentation right here!

Any feedback is appreciated. Keep the comments coming! 🙂

In the time of the Butterflies: Free Movie Guide Question Packet

las hermanas mirabal

Las hermanas Mirabal

In developing a culture unit about the Dominican Republic for high school Spanish 1, my colleagues and I brainstormed about the best way to introduce and discuss the history of the Trujillo regime and the Mirabal sisters who gave their lives in the fight for justice. How could we introduce this key period of Dominican history in a way that is engaging, thought-provoking, and accurate? Furthermore, this history is one of very difficult and disturbing truths. While I am a firm believer that it is important and necessary to teach the darker episodes of history (for reasons I won’t delve into here, but would be happy to discuss in the comments), I strive to do so in the most appropriate and considerate way.

in the time of the butterflies coverJulia Alvarez’s novel In the Time of the Butterflies has long had a place on my bookshelf as one of my favorites, so I was delighted when a colleague found a movie adaptation of the novel. We all watched the movie and decided that its depiction of the events was appropriate for our lesson. As all communities of students, parents, and administrators are different, please use your own discretion in determining if this is right for your classroom.

As Fridays were “culture days” in our FL department, we showed this movie the two Fridays following our introductory presentation on Dominican culture. (I plan to share the materials for that soon!)

The movie guide I prepared and am sharing here has three main parts. Part one provides questions for a brief warm-up and discussion to help students activate previous knowledge, part two features comprehension questions for students to answer while watching the movie, and part three features short-answer discussion questions for students to answer in writing and then discuss. Regarding part two, the comprehension questions, I have found that they do help students stay on task in the movie. Furthermore, I pause the movie frequently and go over the past two or three questions that students have answered, as well as allowing students to ask any questions that may have arisen. I have found that this method helps students to stay engaged and it also allows me to assess how well they are following the movie and understanding key concepts. My students were really full of questions about In the Time of the Butterflies! The following discussion of the movie was one of the best we had all semester, and I was truly impressed by some of their thoughtful comments while grading part three of the movie guide.

You can watch the movie right here! (Click the arrow symbol to make it full screen. I have embedded it from Hulu.com.) Since Hulu provides it for free, it does have commercials. I do believe it is available on Netflix as well.

As always, any feedback is welcome and appreciated. There is lots of room to expand upon this lesson. Please keep the comments coming!

Link to PDF Movie Guide Question Packet In the Time of the Butterflies

¿Qué come la gente alrededor del mundo? (Actividad de comparación cultural)

costa rica eeuu food pic

In this activity students will use food vocabulary and make cross-cultural connections by writing about and discussing photos of families from around the world pictured with a week’s worth of groceries.

Please follow the link below to view featured works from photographer Peter Menzel’s stunning series:

Link to “Photographer Captures a Week’s Worth of Groceries of Families around the World”

These photos could be the basis for all sorts of activities and discussion! The following is just one possible lesson format that I can’t wait to try out this coming year. I will be taking my students to the computer lab for this one. Here’s the instructions:

¿Qué come la gente alrededor del mundo?

1. ¡A explorar! ¡Sigue el siguiente enlace para ver una serie fotográfica increíble! Cada foto retrata una familia con los comestibles que ha comprado para la semana.

2. Haz una tabla con los nombres de los países en cada columna (por lo menos 7 países). Bajo el nombre del país, haz una lista de la comida que ves en la foto (por lo menos 7 comidas por columna). Puedes trabajar con un compañer@.

3. Analiza la tabla y las fotos con tu compañer@.

  • ¿Cómo se comparan?

  • ¿Cómo se distinguen?

  • ¿Qué te parece interesante/curioso/increíble?

  • ¿Hay algo más que quieres saber?

  • ¿Qué come tu familia en una semana?

4. Escribe 3 preguntas/comentarios sobre la serie fotográfica. ¡Mañana hablaremos de ellos juntos!

One possible extension would be for students to create a collage of what their family eats in a week!

If you try this activity (or something similar) in your classroom, I´d love to hear how it goes!

(I didn’t want to post any pictures of the series here due to copyright/plagiarism issues. The pictures above are my own, taken before my first dinner with my host family in Costa Rica and at a great restaurant in Portland, Blossoming Lotus.)

¡Vamos al restaurante! Read along story & handout (La comida, La familia, verbos -er/-ir, palabras interrogativas)

I recently finished my first attempt at teaching high school. I began in mid-February as a long-term sub for three Spanish 1 classes on block scheduling. As all of my prior teaching experience was at the university level, boy did I have a lot to learn! I am appreciative for the learning experience for so many reasons, one being that it really challenged me to diversify my lesson formats. I am thankful for the wonderful community of Spanish teachers/bloggers on the internet as well as my colleagues and professors who shared materials with me and gave me ideas for new lesson styles.

The lesson in this blog post was one of the best days in my high school classroom! It includes a read-along story, ¡Vamos al restaurante!, to be presented on the board as well as a handout for students to follow along with.

300px-Cafe_de_Tacuba_02 The story takes place in Mexico City, and I chose the restaurant Café de Tacuba because it was my favorite place to eat when I was in D.F. I was attempting to incorporate something authentic while also covering the target vocabulary from the textbook (Avancemos). The presentation includes pictures of this beautiful stop in the historical center in D.F. and concludes with a video of the musicians who fill the restaurant with string serenades.

Topics covered include:

  • review of food vocabulary (based on Avancemos textbook)
  • introduction of family vocabulary
  • practice with verb conjugation, focus on -er/-ir
  • review of question words (in follow-up reading comprehension activity)

One goal of this lesson was to segue from food vocabulary to family vocabulary, and I was so proud of my students who really rose to the challenge and read along with me for the whole story! The pictures, simple as they may be, provided just the right amount of scaffolding for them to incorporate the new vocabulary. The cloze activity served as a reference for them to use while answering the reading comprehension questions as well as a study guide. We went back and read it a few times because it really seemed to boost the students´confidence to be able to read a whole story in Spanish! The success of this lesson really got me interested in learning more about the TPRS method (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Story-Telling). (I´m not sure if this lesson is exactly TPRS because I still need to learn more about it! If you have any favorite TPRS resources please comment below!)

You can view the presentation below (made on Google Drive). You can advance with the arrow keys or by a click.  Here is a link to the handout that I used: ¡Vamos al restaurante! handout (PDF)

As always, keep the comments coming! I love connecting with other Spanish teachers online!

Consejo cultural #1 / Culture Tip #1: How to receive/respond to compliments

“Hablas muy bien el español” – How would you respond to that compliment in Spanish? Check out my latest video to see what I learned about responding to compliments while I was in Mexico. What have you learned about responding to compliments in Spanish? Let me know in a comment!