The Art of War
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 the 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.
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!
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:
La pobreza entre los veteranos
El blanqueamiento de la comunidad Latinx
(the packet they received walked them through every aspect of the research!)
Gracias for checking out my blog post!
Stay tuned for Las Sombras (sci-fish series).