Spanish Civil War: Leading with Inquiry- flipping the script with experiential learning 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.  

Assessments 

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 matters.com (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 Neflix (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. 

Click here for follow up post!

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Guernica- The Art of War- Resources for teaching Guernica

 

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. 



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!)

Gracias for checking out my blog post!



Stay tuned for Las Sombras (sci-fish series).  

Conversation circle, film interviews and debate: 7 activities to broaden students cultural knowledge through film

El niño- cartel

Spanish Cinema delivers with El Niño

Before talking about the pedagogical merits of  El Niño , I have to say that I absolutely love the protagonista (Luis Tosar) and antagonist (Jesús Castro). I have seen their work in other films and series and they are the real deal!  I have become a fan of Spanish Cinema as I find the films to be refreshingly real, costumbrista and very gutsy. This film not only delivers on action, but it does on thematic content, storyline and romance!

Te llamas el Niño, por qué te gusta jugar…

    This month I got to introduce some of my favorite short and full feature films and series from Latin American and Spain. The goal was to get students talking in Spanish much like they do in their English classes.

          El Niño is an action-packed 1 hour and 40 minutes film. ¡Ojo! it does have two scenes that I usually censure. Prior to this film, I do a mini lesson on Spanish-Africa, we watch a video on Ceuta and Melilla as the film takes place at the crossroads of the two cultures.  The film explores the themes of illegal immigration, oppressive governments, corruption, unemployment and the selling of contraband- all these things really mesh together to create the storyline.  Many students were completely unaware of the presence of Spanish Africa, the Moors and the confluence of Spanish, African and Arabian culture. The love interest and tension between the Spaniard and a muslim girl from Africa, kept them on their edge of their seats and gave us some meaty morsels for class discussion.

    One of the best activities I did associated with this was the Film Interview. We compiled a list of themes presented in the film. I called five students out randomly and facilitated a discussion with them highlighting  one of the themes. I tossed one catalyst question and they just went at it. Of the comments made, it was encouraging to hear them use their accountable talk phrases to agree, disagree and when they struggled they relied on circumlocution, much like they would in a more authentic context with native speakers.  They added  new perspective to the film that I had not even noticed (I annotated them for the following year). However, students noticed an interesting detail in the film; possessors where criminalized more than consumers of contraband. This dichotomy surfaced as those who shipped, grew and sold  contraband were relentless pursued by police, while those who topping the  “demand” aspect of the chain  aspects brillaban por su ausencia. This led to several dynamic discussions. I had to extend interviews because se calentaba la mesa de conversación.

Activities for viewing the film 

1. Conversation Circle 

To introcomunicacion-iconduce the lesson, we discussed favorite books and movies. These lively conversations inevitably led to words and ideas that would comprise our vocabulary list. I used activities such as these to engage them in the begging stages. From there I created a simple vocabulary list.  The list was used as a point of reference and also provided students with vocabulary for describing, analyzing and writing about films.  Vocabulary for Flim unit 

I’d also like to put a plug in for this amazing Movie Sheet  I got from one of the teachers on TPT. This sheet saves my life every time I am in a bind. If you ever show a movie or even a Telenovela, just have a view of these handy to avoid students annoying asking ” Do we take notes? What do we do?

Preliminary input and interest 

2.  To get students excited about the unit in addition to providing them with resources they could view on their own beyond the four walls of the class,  I featured a few trailers of Spanish-speaking series. Most of the series are from Spain (I have A3series- a new channel offered on RCN).  However, it also highlights Spain’s dominance in this particular market. Series such as Gran Hotel and El Internado are also popularly viewed by both Spanish-Speaking and non Spanish-Speaking audiences. Since we had been working on the subjunctive in this particular class, I organized activities to include that grammatical point. This activity Hoja de actividad worked the vocabulary and grammar.

Trailers o Avances to the series. 

El principe 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_BHRKwrUVI&list=PLuHasT3Ww6UdvlsIenVN-CsV8JCObWpsg&index=15

El barco 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91YNyeENQ0w&list=PLuHasT3Ww6UdvlsIenVN-CsV8JCObWpsg&index=14

El Mar plastico 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5z87AaAi1Y&list=PLuHasT3Ww6UdvlsIenVN-CsV8JCObWpsg&index=12

3. As we begin to discuss how to analyze film. we looked at camera angles and shots in terms of their importance in bringing the story alive.  Here is the activity with the video that I used to help students get a sense of the language used to describe angles in addition to their importance. This is the second year I’ve included the angle shots. The first year I had introduced them was disastrous as I assumed that students had some familiarity with photography (we have AP Photo at my school). Lesson learned! This year we covered all but only emphasized a few.

Film shots in Spanish (the url of the video is embedded in the document).

https://drive.google.com/a/cps.edu/file/d/0B2Nr2F00fm_yT2hXUWxSazd2R3M/view?usp=sharing

4.  Film Carrousel

This was something different I did this year. We have 90 minute block periods so this worked perfectly for one class. I selected three films. The vocabulary as well as questions front loading some the films content and themes were included in the anticipatory set prior to seeing the film (see the PPT).  The order was as follows:

– Complete previewing activities

– View cortometraje and jot down new vocabulary words

– Turn to a partner to discuss the themes, characters, plot and overall impression of the film (next year I will include the camera shots)

– Engage in a class discussion about themes.

Power Point used to launch the film carrousel activity

https://drive.google.com/a/cps.edu/file/d/0B2Nr2F00fm_yMkEtSlcwLXJyUTQ/view?usp=sharing

Activity sheets for students

https://drive.google.com/a/cps.edu/file/d/0B2Nr2F00fm_yc0JmR3BTQjZ0V0E/view?usp=sharing

Useful websites

Film Vocabulary in Spanish

http://www.brighthubeducation.com/learning-spanish/42396-going-to-the-movies-vocabulary-expressions/

http://www.muchomasquecine.com/biblioteca/vocabulario-de-cine/

http://www.uhu.es/cine.educacion/cineyeducacion/glosariocine.htm

!Más actividades por delante! Please share your favorite films!  

Join the ACTFL Cinema SIG page on Facebook where we discuss and share film ideas!