Exploring Identity with teens: relevant topics for your upper level Spanish class

Engage students in thinking and discussion on Identity in the 21st Century: Reading texts, activities and discussion prompts included!

Identidad de los Jóvenes 

In case you’ve missed it, my first post: Who are you?  highlights several introductory cognitive priming and preparation activities that engage students in and around the theme of Identity. This post highlights additional resources such as slightly modified authentic texts, books and films that I have used to assist students in making sense of the topic and engaging in a real way.

One of my chief issues has not been finding materials but finding appropriate and as Krashen pointed out comprehensible input  for my intermediate level students.   This has forced me to slightly modify some of the resources (when appropriate of course) in order to stave off frustration and immediately lower the affective filter.

After the introduction to the unit on Identity,  I start with this article I researched and complied:

  • Using information for Spanish National Geographic (article on the Teenage Brain eons ago) in addition to other websites that help inform me about the theme, I fashioned the article in the following resource Click here for sample.

Click here to view Identity Unit

The first article highlights the nature of Identity. It discusses:

  • Neurological changes 
  • Biological changes 
  • Psychological and Ideological changes 
  • The impact of technology on one’s identity 
  • The changing nature of identity itself

I am a science buff and this first article was so incredibly interesting to my students last year! I let them work on it in class, annotate and read in pairs to break it down. Also, during a class in pedagogy some years ago (we teachers are always in school), I learned about the concept of “shared background knowledge.”  This text, carefully researched, crafted and modified makes sure all students are on equal footing so to speak with regard to the content. For this article, the wording is mostly sophisticated cognates. With every other article, we circle back to reference this one. In essence, it’s like our “anchor” text. Students were able to transfer their ELA stills such as citing and referencing text to Spanish, a goal our department is earnestly pursuing.

One of the text included broached the Transgender debate in Argentina. This year, I am using the video resources below to support the written text and give students more interpretive input:

The questions can be accessed by clicking here. I have also added it to the Identity Unit for those who have it (it was updated August 23).

These videos that do a great job “enmarcando” the debate. I plan to show the La Ley de la Identity Collage video and have students:

  • Complete the pre-viewing activity with the terms and concepts/ in groups or speed dating style 
  • View the video once without notes. I like giving them time to take it all in. 
  • Discuss what they can for 30 seconds with an elbow partner. 
  • Read over questions
  • View the video once more
  • Respond to questions 
  • Engage students in discussion. Now that they would have read the short article on the Transgender kids in addition to viewing the collage view (short 2 minute testimonial/PSA), we will have a class discussions.

I plan to give them article on Indigenous Identity for homework. When I give a text for homework students:

  • Complete the pre-reading vocabulary during class 
  • Play a game of concentration with the vocabulary or another fun game!
  • Read and respond to questions for homework 
  • Take a homework quiz the next day. I usually cut the questions into strips so every student has one of the 4 higher level questions. I make sure the questions are balanced. They write a response in class and I grade afterwards. 
  • We have a short class discussion.  

Want more on the topic of Identity, check out the previous post below!Question: If you have used these resources, have they worked for you? What resources do you use to get to know students or discuss identity? 

Interpretive Mode Visual Literacy

This year I used a ton of Latin American short and long feature films associated with a particular theme. One of my favs is the short film “Eres” which, is aptly named because all the friends of the protagonist preface every interaction with  ” Eres.”  This is the second year I have used this film, available on here on Youtube.

The film is superior to touching on the Identity and even self-esteem. However, the dialogue can be difficult to understand when you add the speed of light pace of the conversations and other nuances.  To facilitate listening and to lower the filter,  I created several activities that engage:

  •  listening skills 
  •  viewing  skills 
  • reading activities to offset the language barrier. 

My students really loved the film because they really saw how other people (in)form our identity. Many students think they are “themselves” but this film points out our nature to conform as well as how to preserve our own identity- at least that was the lesson I got. Please enjoy and consider giving me a rating. If you have any questions, please send me an email at profesoraquintero@gmail.com

Click here for the free mini lesson on the Spanish Short Film Eres 

One more thing…

The film is more of an PG-13. It is about 10 minutes and my students have liked it for the past two years (or 1.5 years). There is no nudity although there is a 5 second showing of two of the characters kissing while falling onto the bed.

Other amazing resources

 I came across this treasure during the ACTFL conference. The first few pages of this book dovetails peerlessly with my unit on identity. There  is a really great and highly relevant article on adolescents and their issues. This is coupled a slew of activities that could be used for differentiation, stations, Chat Stations (which I love) and/or homework if you’re into that.


These are additional activities related to the book. They’re are tons and the book is available on Amazon. It’s about $2 more than what I paid, but I think it is definitely worth it!

I also bought this Spanish IB MYP book. It has many great articles and questions to spawn critical thinking and reflecting. This year I am using several little articles for students to read and present on.

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