El cuidado de la salud y la medicina

Uno de los sub-temas para la ciencia y la tecnología en AP Lengua Española es el cuidado de la salud y la medicina.  En mi clase de “pre-AP” exploramos este sub-tema.

Comenzamos con una exploración del curanderismo. Aquí les comparto los recursos que he localizado para hablar de este tema.

Veinte Mundos: “Los secretos de un curandero”


Tres cuadros de Carmen Lomas Garza; dos que se llaman “Curandera” y uno que se llama “Barriendo el susto”


La Universidad de Illinois en Urbana-Champaign tenía un recurso excelente que vendían que se llamaba “Nuevos Horizontes: Curso de comprensión oral” con audio y actividades sobre el chamán y su rol como curandero además de figura espiritual. Por desgracia, parece que ya no está disponible. Sin embargo, tengo un enlace para una grabación similar de Nuevos Horizontes:


Video en español y subtitulado en inglés llamado “La curandera de Teotitlán del Valle”


Hay una lectura breve y sencilla en el libro de texto Descubre nivel 3 que se llama  “De abuelos y curanderos.” Alguien la ha subido a Internet; les advierto que esta versión tiene errores ortográficos:


En el libro de texto Temas hay una actividad de comprensión auditiva que se llama «Escepticismo y medicinas alternativas»  en la página 95. La fuente auditiva se encuentra en:


Yo usé la canción “Yerbatero” de Juanes como parte de esta serie de lecciones. Kara Jacobs tiene la canción y más recursos sobre la salud en su blog:



Además del curanderismo, aprendimos sobre el sistema de sanidad pública en España. Hay una lectura y audio con ejercicios de comprensión en la revista TECLA:


Hay un debate en España sobre el sistema de sanidad pública y propuestas para privatizarlo. La revista de Scholastic “El sol” de marzo 2015 tiene una lectura breve sobre el debate sobre la privatización del sistema de sanidad en España. Yo hice una búsqueda de imágenes en Google sobre el sistema de sanidad pública en España, y encontré varios dibujos políticos sobre el debate que analizamos en clase para entender mejor los puntos de vista de los españoles.

En el sitio de la Universidad de Texas en Austin,  hay varios videos breves sobre cómo se sienten varias personas sobre la medicina en la sociedad:


El sitio ver-taal.com tiene un buscador de ejercicios para localizar fuentes auditivas sobre la salud y el cuerpo humano:


Más adelante en esta unidad de estudio vamos a ver la película “Mar adentro” para hablar de la eutanasia.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My experiences teaching Spanish as a heritage language

I went to a SWCOLT session recently about teaching Spanish as a heritage language, and there was quite a bit of lively discussion about what should be taught and how in order to meet the learners’ unique needs. I started teaching Spanish as a heritage language three years ago, and I’ll share what I’ve learned so far.

When I first started teaching at my school, the courses I taught were called Native Spanish. I prefer the term heritage speaker to native speaker, however, because I discovered that the majority of my students were born in the United States, and may have never visited a Spanish-speaking country.

At my school, there is a foreign language requirement, and since our school is so small, we only offer Spanish. Over 90% of our students are Latino, and most speak Spanish to some extent. Because the students have to double up on English classes in 9th and 10th grades, I only get two years at the most with them.  I decided to offer two courses for the heritage Spanish speakers: pre-AP and AP Spanish Language and Culture. Depending on their level of language skills, they take both courses, or they only take the AP course.  All students who speak Spanish as a heritage language will take the AP exam at my school.

Because the new AP Spanish Language and Culture exam that was first administered in May 2014 is easier to pass with a 3, 4 or 5 than the previous version of the exam, I decided that I needed to offer a more challenging course in addition to what we already have, so I plan to offer AP Spanish Literature and Culture starting in the 2016-17 school year.

I have not yet perfected the way that I determine whether each student needs to be placed in the non-native, pre-AP o AP classes, but for the moment I am using the listening and reading comprehension parts from the diagnostic exam from Glencoe McGraw Hill and a writing prompt that I obtained from a high school in Denver. So far it seems to be fairly accurate. The trouble is with the students at the lower end of the spectrum. Sometimes students fail the diagnostic exam, but are able to get along in the pre-AP classes, while others who fail are not able to pass the pre-AP class.  The only other alternatives at my school are Spanish I and II non-native, so I plan to experiment with putting students on the bubble in Spanish II the first year and pre-AP Spanish the second year. I think a level III non-native would be ideal rather than level II for those students, but we just do not have enough students to support that many classes.

During the SWCOLT session, there was debate about the role of direct grammar instruction in heritage/native language courses. I have not incorporated grammar into my lessons unless a specific grammar issue pops up in the students’ speaking or writing. I have been thinking that “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” However, I have been mulling over the thought of more systemic grammar instruction; perhaps in the form of a workbook that students do as homework and I incorporate the homework concepts some way in class. The first workbook that comes to mind is “Schaum’s Outlines of Spanish Grammar” but there are a number of grammar workbooks on the market.

The main struggle for my heritage speakers seems to be literacy, particularly reading.  I have observed, upon reviewing the data of my students who are labeled ELL, that as a general rule,  if the students have a low score on the ELL assessment, they struggle in my class also. In short, it is not an English or Spanish issue, but rather a literacy issue. I think that the most high-impact activity that I can do with my students is vocabulary building.  I am working to find ways to successfully teach vocabulary as well as reading strategies. My goal is to strengthen my students language skills through the teaching of content, particularly cultural content.

Another topic of discussion at the SWCOLT session was the lack of materials for teaching heritage language courses.  I have found that the AP curriculum works well for me with my students, particularly the themes. I also use authentic target language sources with my students, as well as didactic materials made for native speakers for topics like literature, spelling and accents. I also find European sources for ELE (español como lengua extranjera) to be useful. I look for levels B2, C1, C2. I think that materials for International Baccalaureate Spanish B, both Standard and High Level, would be suitable. Finally, I have purchased a copy of different advanced level Spanish textbooks from used book sites like Better World Books or Amazon.

Here are some other resources:

Spanish Native Language Arts Curriculum Guide from New York

Planning and Pacing Guides from Denver Public Schools

Heritage Languages in America

National Heritage Language Resource Center

Kim Potowski; includes a list of textbooks for teaching heritage language

Cherice Montgomery

Public Schools of North Carolina

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

SWCOLT AP Spanish Presentation

Here is the Power Point presentation for my SWCOLT 2015 session, “Tips and Strategies for a Strong AP Spanish Language and Culture Course.”

Strong AP Spanish Program

sample lesson

Here are some helpful links from the presentation:







Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scoring Guides for AP Spanish Language and Culture

I find the AP scoring guides that are found in the AP course description to be less than student friendly, so I created these formats for student use.

Scoring guides in grid form:

Interpersonal Writing Rubric AP

Presentational Writing Rubric AP

Interpersonal Speaking Rubric AP

Presentational Speaking Rubric AP

Self and peer evaluation checklists:

AP peer self assessment checklist inter writing

AP peer self assessment checklist pres writing

AP peer self assessment checklist inter speaking

AP peer self assessment checklist pres speaking

Checklists for evaluating student samples from AP Central:

form for evaluating sample AP inter writing samples

form for evaluating sample AP pres writing

form for evaluating sample AP inter speaking recordings

form for evaluating sample AP pres speaking recordings

Presentational rubrics with spaces for teacher comments:

Presentational Writing Rubric AP comment boxes

Presentational Speaking Rubric AP comment boxes

All four rubrics on one page:

AP rubrics all 4 in one page

When I reached out to the head English teacher at my school for the presentational writing, he suggested a point/counter-point essay format.  This is not from AP, and may not be your preferred method, but I am going to share the graphic organizer and evaluation checklist that I created for use with my students.

graphic organizer AP essay version 2docx

Evaluación del ensayo persuasivo teacher checklist

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Teacher Blogs for AP Spanish Language and Culture

Here are some teacher-created sites that are great for AP Spanish materials.


Great pdf resources for each AP theme









http://cultyciv.blogspot.com/ (not specifically for AP, but has great resources)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

To Change the World


This a re-post of something that I think would be great for all levels of language, especially AP Spanish Familias y Comunidades.

Originally posted on Steve McCurry's Blog:

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use
to change the world.

– Nelson Mandela


AFGHN-13707 (2)Afghanistan

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.
– Plutarch

BURMA-10168 (1)Burma

There is divine beauty in learning …
– Elie Wiesel

Kegalla, Sri Lanka, 1995Sri Lanka

DSC_0749_kd (1)Omo Valley, Ethiopia

All I have learned, I learned from books.
– Abraham Lincoln


Learning is not attained by chance;
it must be sought for with
ardor and attended to with diligence.
– Abigail Adams


We think of the effective teachers we have had over the years
with a sense of recognition, but those who have touched our humanity
we remember with a deep sense of gratitude.


 The secret in education lies in respecting the student.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson 

MALI-10028NF Mali


TIBET-10573NF2Kandze, Tibet

Only the educated are free.
– Epictetus


Teaching might even…

View original 182 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Las dos Fridas

Para el tema Identidades Personales y Públicas en mi clase de AP Lengua Española, utlizo una obra de Frida Kahlo que se llama “Las dos Fridas.”


Los sitios siguientes dan interpretaciones de “Las dos Fridas”:





Estas son las preguntas que les hago a mis estudiantes sobre los dos videos:

1.Según los videos, ¿qué motivó a Frida a pintar esta obra?

2.¿Qué dos lados de la identidad de Frida presentan las dos figuras?

3.¿Qué tiene Frida en la mano a la derecha?

Capítulo 6 de Pasajes: Literatura de McGraw-Hill comienza con una actividad para interpretar la obra.

Para explorar más la vida de Frida Kahlo, los enlaces siguientes contienen biografías y obras de Frida Kahlo, incluyendo materiales didácticos:




Para el audio y el video anteriores, tengo estas preguntas: Frida Kahlo Bio listening comp







Uso esta biografía de un sitio de Internet que ya no está disponible:

Frida Kahlo Bio and questions

Posted in AP Spanish Language and Culture, Culture, Lesson Planning | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

La comunicación interpersonal

Un componente del examen de AP lengua española es la comunicación interpersonal escrita. En el pasado era una carta formal o informal, y en el examen actual es un correo electrónico formal. Así que es la responsibilidad del maestro enseñarles a los estudiantes a escribir correspondencia.


Mientras una lección en que el maestro les enseña a los estudiantes el formato correcto de una carta o e-mail de forma directa es la manera más común, creo que el usar literatura para presentar el tema de la correspondencia escrita me interesa más a mí. Reconozco que estas obras no les enseñarán a los estudiantes todo lo que necesitan saber para escribir el e-mail formal, pero me atrae la idea de explorar el tema de la correspondencia escrita a través de las obras literarias.

Un relato breve que se trata de una carta es “La carta” por José Luis González. Una maestra en FLTEACH me lo sugirió. Tiene varios errores ortográficos a propósito, y les pedí a mis estudiantes que corrigieran los que encontraron. El cuento es un ejemplo del formato de una carta familiar, y además se trata del tema de la ajenación y asimilación por motivos económicos.

Esta versión del cuento tiene una breve biografía del escritor: http://www.juridicas.unam.mx/publica/librev/rev/derhum/cont/62/pr/pr30.pdf

También hay preguntas de comprensión: http://profvictormhenriquez.blogspot.com/2011/11/estudio-sobre-el-cuento-la-carta-de.html

Otra carta que me gusta es en realidad una tira cómica creada por Quino que se llama “Adiós, gusano.” La usé como actividad para comenzar la clase: http://unaclaseconclase.blogspot.com/2010/11/adios-gusano.html

Un cuento que se usa con frecuencia en clases de español como lengua extranjera es “Una carta a Dios” por Gregorio López y Fuentes.

Aquí tenemos la versión del cuento comúnmente usada en clases de español: http://www.eslconnect.com/apspanish/cartaadios.html

El libro de texto “Álbum” tiene la versión auditiva de todos sus cuentos en Internet: http://college.cengage.com/languages/spanish/burgy/album/3e/students/audio/

Y aquí les comparto la versión original, también con audio: http://albalearning.com/audiolibros/lopez/carta.html

Hay varios recursos en Internet para el cuento creados por maestros:





Para dar un aspecto más moderno a la comunicación escrita a través de los mensajes textos, o sea la falta de comunicación, hay un cortometraje muy bueno:


Un cuento para estudiantes avanzados que no les enseñarán a escribir una carta, pero tiene ese tema es “Cartas de mamá” por Julio Cortázar. Es un cuento largo. http://www.literatura.us/cortazar/cartas.html “Cartas de mamá” también se encuentra en el libro de texto Temas para AP lengua española

“Cartas de amor traicionado” por Isabel Allende es otro cuento largo con el tema de las cartas. Se encuentra en el libro de texto “Galería de arte y vida” por Glencoe Publishing.








Posted in AP Spanish Language and Culture, Spanish Heritage Language, Spanish Literature | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam Results 2014

My students’ AP Spanish Language exam scores were very good this year, even better than last year’s. However, I am not celebrating because of a document and subsequent conversation on the AP Spanish Language and Culture Community indicated that 85% of students who took the newly revised AP Spanish Language exam received a passing score (3 or above). Last year, with the old exam, the pass rate was 55%.  Click HERE for access to the document. (You must be a member of or join the AP Spanish Language and Culture Community in order to access it.)

In further conversation regarding the document, a rationale from College Board was given for the jump in pass rate with the new exam.  In essence, 3 reasons were given for the change.

1. The new exam better reflects what students are doing in class.

2. The new scoring system that allows more passing scores better reflects how universities place students in Spanish courses.

3. For students who have studied the language 4+ years, few should receive a 1 or 2 after so many years of study.

I personally think that the 85% pass rate is rather high, but that is partly because I teach heritage Spanish speakers, and I would like them to have more of a challenge on the exam. We are going to offer AP Spanish Literature in 2014-15, so that will help with the rigor. Approximately 60% of the total students taking the AP Spanish Language exam have outside experience with Spanish, which I think is a high number.  I wish we could do with AP what IB does with language, which is to offer a standard level test and a higher level test. I know that is pie in the sky, but I think it would be nice.

Ultimately, however, I understand and begrudgingly accept the increased pass rate with the new exam. What greatly concerns me, however, is that I believe a good many AP Spanish teachers may be unaware of why the pass rate jumped. It would not be appropriate for teachers to compare last year’s pass rate with this year’s in an attempt to evaluate their AP programs. It would be like comparing apples and oranges. I want teachers to celebrate the higher scores for the right reasons and not to make inaccurate assumptions.

If you would like to read the message from College Board that was posted on the AP Spanish Language and Culture Community, click HERE.




Posted in AP Spanish Language and Culture | Leave a comment

AP Presentational Speaking: Cultural Comparisons

This year I taught AP Spanish Language and Culture to the new exam format, and I found the presentational speaking task to be the most challenging for me as a teacher. My students are Latino, so they have their own target culture experiences to drawn on as well as the cultural information that I present in class. On the flip side, since the school where I teach is 95% Latino and we live in a predominantly Hispanic part of Denver, I found that the students may not have a deep knowledge of American culture outside of our community. So, in addition to cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, I felt compelled to provide information about “American” culture, if you will. I think this is true, however, for all language teachers to some extent, for there are AP contexts about which adolescents may not have background knowledge, such as art or architecture in the United States. Without that background knowledge, they are unable to make the cultural comparisons with supporting details and relevant examples that are required for the presentational speaking task.

Another issue I find with the cultural comparison is that there are 6-7 contexts for each theme. I feel I can only reasonably teach about 3 contexts per theme. The AP Spanish Language Course and Exam Description states that not all contexts have to be covered, but I can’t shake the nagging feeling that a context that we do not discuss will be the one on the exam. I could assign the other contexts as outside research projects, but I feel like I am leaving their level of knowledge up to chance. To avoid this issue, I have decided to teach half the contexts in the class before the AP Language course, which I call “pre-AP” and the other half in the actual AP course. This is where vertical alignment of language courses with the AP exam is useful.

Even with limiting myself to 3 contexts per theme, I feel that we only have time to do a superficial coverage of culture at best, which leads to stereotypes that come out in their oral presentations.

At the end of the first unit, I gave my students the presentational speaking prompt found in the practice exam. Before recording, we read the directions and the rubric, and listened to the student samples included with the practice exam. Then the students recorded using the same equipment they would use during the actual exam. I was pretty disappointed with the results. The students did not incorporate anything that we had studied during the unit, instead relying on their own prior knowledge. This is not bad per se, but obviously my cultural lessons were not sticking with them. A good number did not make the comparison, instead talking about each culture separately, or just talking about one culture.

For the second and third units, I again gave the students a presentational speaking task at the end of the unit. This time I tried giving the students a Venn diagram to fill out during the 4 minutes they had for brainstorming, then they recorded. The main problem this time was that my students were able to talk about their personal experiences from the Hispanic community, but they had little or no knowledge outside of that for comparison.  Some of them even made up information about non-Hispanic culture in the United States. Would it be wrong to allow students to compare and contrast their experiences as a Mexican-American in the United States and a different Spanish-speaking culture such as Spain or Argentina, for example?

For units 4, 5 and  6 I tried using Venn diagrams at the end of a lesson or series of lessons on a particular context so that they could write down what they remembered and see how it could turn into a speaking task. Here is my template.

Comparación Cultural Venn Exit Slip

I also tried to incorporate information about our city and the U.S.  As we talked about environmental issues, for example, we read about the ozone warnings that Denver experiences each summer. Though the students’ oral presentations improved, I still did not see the students incorporating much of the class material, or at times doing so inaccurately. They used vague generalizations rather than concrete examples, which was frustrating to me because I felt that I had infused the lessons with specific things that they could use in their presentations.

So after a year of working hard to saturate the course with culture and teach the students exactly what they needed to do to complete the task successfully, the question that they had to answer on the exam was not related to anything specific that we had discussed in class. The students relied completely on their own knowledge and experience to answer the prompt.

As I think about next year, I plan to do more modeling by filling out the Venn diagrams myself so that they can compare their completed Venns with mine and see what I thought was important. Perhaps I should use more of a T-chart and have the students fill them out during the course of the class period as they hear or read something that they think is of relevance. I also think that I should provide the students with a presentational speaking prompt at the beginning of each new context that we discuss, and everything we do will relate to answering that question.  They will not necessarily record a presentational speaking task for each prompt, but at least they are reflecting on and processing that cultural information. Furthermore, since there is not yet a bank of student samples for the new presentational speaking format, I need record my own so that the students can hear what I was looking for in their presentations for comparison with their own recordings.

My principal suggested that I have the students take more ownership of the learning by doing research, so I will try to incorporate that as well, but my impression from observing my students as they research is that students + computers to find information = inefficient use of class time. If anyone has suggestions for making research gathering more effective, I am eager to hear your input. Around 90% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch, so expecting them to go home and do research is not a very realistic expectation since their access to resources may be limited.

One last thing that I can share is a template I developed for the presentational speaking assessment that the students performed each unit, in case it could be useful. I look forward to hearing how others have tackled the cultural comparison in their AP language classes.

presentational speaking TEMPLATE







Posted in AP Spanish Language and Culture, Assessment, Culture, Oral communication | 4 Comments