El Salvador trip for teachers?

I’ve spent the last few weeks in El Salvador with my husband visiting his family, and I got this hair-brained idea that teachers might like to participate in a tour specifically for them. The fact that El Salvador doesn’t have much of a tourism infastructure yet, and it’s reputation for gang violence do not make it a student tour destination just yet, but I think it is possible.


I have spent the bulk of my time in western El Salvador, and I have found that the violence is mostly confined to certain neighborhoods in San Salvador. And, like Costa Rica, it is not advisable to go out at night. Another helpful tip is to go with a local resident or guide if traveling to an unfamiliar town.

So this is what my tour would look like:

Day 1: Arrive to San Salvador to stay the night. If time, visit a shopping mall (not very touristy, but safe to visit).

Day 2: Head out for the Ruta de las flores:



Nahuizalco–town with indigenous roots. Watch crafts being made, buy a tule basket and other crafts, visit the tiny museum, have a lunch that includes indigenous foods like tuyuyo.

Salcoatitán–According to the Moon guidebook, there is nothing to see there, but we had a nice coffee at the Museo de la Imprenta. The museum itself is tiny and not that interesting, but it appears they also have a woodworking shop and sell items in a small gift shop. I saw several signs advertising quesadilla artesanales (homemade), which is a sweet bread, not the Mexican kind of quesadilla. There also appears to be art shops, but I will have to return to find that out. There were lovely mosaics on the walls around town.

Juayúa–This would be on a Saturday so that we could visit the Feria Gastronómica for an early dinner. Other options would be a hike to the waterfalls called Las Siete Cascadas, or a coffee plantation tour. We would spend the night in this area.

Day 3: Ruta de las flores

Apaneca–visit the Laguna Verde and Laguna de Las Ninfas. There is also a zip-lining canopy tour available.

Ataco–visit the weekend artisanal market. There is also a coffee farm tour available here is we do not do it the day before.

Ahuachapán–visit the aguas termales and spend the night.

Day 4:

Tazumal–Mayan ruins between Ahuachapán and Santa Ana

Cerro Verde–easy hike up this dormant volcano and enjoy views of Volcán Izalco.

Volcán Santa Ana–another hiking option

Lago Coatepeque–since most of the lakefront is privately owned by wealthy Salvadorans, we would most likely enjoy views from the miradores along the highway above the lake.

Santa Ana–spend the night. There is an organic farm nearly that invites volunteers to work or teach classes at their local school; I think this would add an extra day to the trip.

Day 5:

San Andrés–Mayan ruins

Joya de Cerén–more Maya ruins; called the Pompeii of Central America because a volcanic eruption preserved the daily life of the common people of that era.

head to el Puerto de la Libertad to spend the night

Day 6:

Puerto de la Libertad–day at the beach; optional cacao plantation tour

Day 7 (and maybe Day 8): San Salvador

Catedral Metropolitana y Palacio Nacional

Museo Nacional de la Antropología

Museo de Arte de El Salvador

Museo de Arte Popular

Centro Monseñor Romero

Mercado Nacional de Artesanías

Day 8 or 9: Fly home

So that is my rough idea. I was also thinking that, since it is a group of teachers and we cannot go out much at night, we could do talleres some evenings where we could learn about certains aspects of Salvadoran history and culture in an immersion setting, complete with lesson plan ideas for teachers to take back to their classrooms. Some ideas I have are: making pupusas, coffee, cacao and sugar production, El Salvador’s civil war and Archbishop Romero, something related to the indigenous populations past and present, and Salvadoran authors and artists such as Roque Dalton and Fernando Llort.

I visited a school during my time here, and they were very welcoming, so I think I could arrange such a visit as part of the tour if this would be of interest to teachers. We could have a school tour and a student panel to converse with them about their lives and educational experiences, etc.

One caveat would be that this would be a trip best suited for El Salvador’s summer season from November to April. The winter months from May to September are rainy. This was my experience in Costa Rica on both my trips. We took students in June because that is our summer vacation, but both times we got soaked to the bone during excursions because of the downpours common during that time of year.

I think this trip would be great for El Salvador and it’s tiny and unexploited tourism industry, and a nice way to teachers to learn about this little country.




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Remedios Varo

The Spanish-born Mexican artist Remedios Varo is my current fascination, and I’m trying to see how I can make her the subject of a lesson. I learned about her from a reading the the textbook Temas, but I find the reading to be quite dense. I’m intrigued not only by her art, but also the fact that she was a female surrealist. When we talk about art in class, we talk mostly about men, so I am glad to have a woman to talk about. Here are the few resources I have so far; hopefully a lesson that I can post will spring from this.


http://tadamsspanishahs.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/84390352/ch%202%20text%20p.72-81.pdf (brief reading/grammar exercise on page 77)








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Como agua para chocolate

I have been using the first chapter of the book and the film in a unit about food for my pre-AP Spanish students. I first read the book while I was in college and saw the film when it came out in the theater in 1992. I start with a brief overview of the Mexican Revolution and then we read the first chapter. I have the students listen along then we pause every so often to answer questions and look for examples of Magical Realism. The students get very interested in the relationships between the characters and start rooting for either Pedro or the physician to win Tita’s heart.

Here are some resources for the book and film:

https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/a2-como-agua-para-chocolate-study-booklet-11063982 (you have to register; it’s free)

http://www.languagesresources.co.uk/SpanishA2Literature.html (scroll down to the “Como agua para chocolate” resources)

materials for purchase https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:como%20agua%20para%20chocolate

film and lesson plans for purchase https://filmarobics.com/like-water-for-chocolate-como-agua-para-chocolate?search=chocolate











A text called Graded Spanish Reader: Primera Etapa by Cengage Learning has pre- and post-reading activities for the first chapter.

The textbook Encuentros Maravillosos chapter 7 has an excerpt and comprehension questions.

Reading guide on ISSUU


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Cooperative Learning and Languages

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been working with pre-service teachers, and I find myself digging through my resources from when I taught Spanish at the lower levels in order to give my student teachers strategies to add to their repertoire before heading out to their own classroom. Here’s a collection of tricks and tools for cooperative learning.

Fan-N-Pick from Martina Bex: https://martinabex.com/2013/04/06/fan-n-pick-forms/

Quiz-Quiz-Trade from Martina Bex: https://martinabex.com/2017/02/07/quiz-quiz-trade-with-afro-latino-example-question-set/

Jigsaw reading: http://palmyraspanish1.blogspot.com/2014/01/jigsaw-activity-in-reading-combined.html

Blind sequencing–great for stories (example is from social studies): https://www.saisd.net/admin/curric/sstudies/resources/teacher_zone/Cooperative/pdf/cl_blind_sequence.pdf

Packet of picture sequences that could be used for blind sequencing: https://ckochefkogerman.wikispaces.com/file/view/AP_Program_Picture_Sequences_from_AP_French_-_German_and_Spanish_Exams.pdf

Videos and explanations of multiple cooperative strategies: http://www.theteachertoolkit.com/index.php/tool/all-tools

Cooperative learning toolbox for $7 at TpT: http://appletasticlearning.com/2016/12/15/cooperative-learning-strategies/



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I’ve had a few pre-service teachers doing observation hours and student teaching with me the last few years, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can mentor them in the best way possible. I want to dedicate this post to resources that I collect that I believe can support a student teacher.

Annenburg videos: They are dated, but provide good teaching models for teachers, and include learning materials for the student teacher to use as they work with the videos.



Useful videos from Wisconsin about the modes of communication: http://wimedialab.org/worldlanguageassessment/video.htm

The TELL Project (Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning): http://www.tellproject.org/framework/

Training modules, videos and other resources at http://www.sedl.org/expertise/historical/loteced.html

Dr. Cherice Montgomery has great resources:

–Language Links 2006: http://languagelinks2006.wikispaces.com/Instructional+Strategies

–Meaningful Methods: http://meaningfulmethods.wikispaces.com/

–Teens and Tech: http://teensntech.wikispaces.com

–Think Thematic: http://thinkthematic.wikispaces.com/

TPRS Storytelling has a youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsnrjR8QVCUD56gLPmycrug/videos

I found these language teaching modules from Texas: https://coerll.utexas.edu/methods/

Wiki for new world language teachers: https://mpsforeignlanguages.wikispaces.com/Toolbox

ACTFL has a virtural learning library, but the videos cost money: https://www.pathlms.com/actfl/courses

I think previous blog posts of mine would also be useful:





Highly Engaged Classroom http://www.centergrove.k12.in.us/cms/lib4/IN01000850/Centricity/Domain/1217/The%20Main%20Idea%20-%20The%20Highly%20Engaged%20Classroom.Pdf

This is a good syllabus from a methods course: https://ed.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/step/page/educ264b_2016.pdf

Qualities of exceptional teachers: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/104138/chapters/The-Qualities-of-Great-Teachers.aspx

How to accept constructive criticism: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/11/07/taking-constructive-criticism-like-a-champ/#24d30bb92c0c








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Chilean New Song Movement

Here is a post of notes. I have not developed any of this into lesson plans as of yet, but hope to do so one day. 🙂

The film “No” starring Gael García Bernal http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2059255/

Top 10 Chilean protest songs http://soundsandcolours.com/articles/chile/top-10-chilean-protest-songs-28270/

Los Prisioneros and protest songs from the 80’s http://latinousa.org/2017/01/13/rebellious-voice-1980s-chile/

El equipo fantasma de Chile http://radioambulante.org/audio/el-equipo-fantasma and lesson plan http://languagelabunleashed.org/2015/02/teaching-listening-el-equipo-fantasma-lesson-plan/

Chilean new song movement http://www.folkways.si.edu/latin-american-protest-songs-new-song-of-chile-and-cuba/tools-for-teaching/smithsonian

Resources for “La nueva canción chilena” http://www.memoriachilena.cl/602/w3-article-702.html#presentacion

Resource from Educachile.cl http://www.educarchile.cl/ech/pro/app/detalle?id=189693

Chile and Violeta Parra: http://www.delearte.com/2012/06/el-mundo-con-ene-chile.html?platform=hootsuite

“Gracias a la vida” por Violeta Parra: http://www.veintemundos.com/magazines/10-en/cancionero/






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My pre-AP and AP Spanish course syllabi

Here are my syllabi for pre-AP and AP Spanish Language and Culture from last year. They have this year’s date, but I am having to cut out and re-arrange some things because the schedule this year has shorter class periods. I teach pre-AP and AP Spanish Language to heritage Spanish speakers. Since it is a charter school, I believe we have a longer school year than a typical public school.




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Teaching materials created by others

It’s the time of the school year where we are finishing the first semester on the fumes of the energy we had in August or September, and may be eyeing next semester with some apprehension.

While I am a big believer in free materials for teachers because I know how little we make in comparison to others with the same level of education and experience as us, I also believe that ready-made materials for purchase can help us out when time and sleep are in short supply. I also believe that other teachers should be paid for the materials that they spent their precious time making.  I think for-purchase materials are also great because, honestly, why are thousands of teachers creating curriculum from scratch every year? Perhaps your’re willing to spend some of your own money, or you can get some funds from your school, or perhaps raise funds on https://www.donorschoose.org/.

Therefore, I’d like to dedicate this post to places where Spanish teachers can find reasonably-priced products. I will warn you that I have not purchased and used all of these products, so please look them over carefully before purchasing.

Spanishplans.org has a blog and its own store at http://www.spanishteachershop.com/

DeleArte.com is a favorite of mine, with lots of free activities as well as a few items for purchase in their store at http://www.delearte.com/p/tienda-virtual.html

Feel like showing a movie? Filaromics.com has films with lesson plans for sale.

Spark Enthusiasm a plethora of resources for purchase at http://sparkenthusiasm.com/Teacher_Resources.html

Speakinglatino.com has free and for-purchase materials at http://www.speakinglatino.com/teachers-resources/

This site only has a couple of reasonably-priced resources, but I believe they will add more with time: https://commongroundinternational.com/product-category/spanish-teacher-resources/

This site has free audio with the option to purchase worksheets for listening and reading comprehension: https://gumroad.com/spanishlistening

Teachers Pay Teachers is full of resources:

Bell-ringers https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:spanish%20bell%20ringers

Weekly news readings https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/SUBSCRIPTION-Weekly-news-summaries-for-Spanish-students-SPRING-2017-2510441

Projects https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:spanish%20projects

Project-based learning https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:project%20based%20learning%20spanish

Webquests https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:spanish%20webquests

Thematic units from Miraflores https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Miraflores or http://www.miraflores.org/ (might be easier to navigate)

Music-related resources https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:spanish%20music

Free Spanish resources https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:free%20spanish

This teacher has interesting materials for sale at TpT https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Teaching-Spanish-Made-Easy

There are even entire curricula available (at a significant price) for Spanish I and II (traditional and TPRS), heritage language learners, and even AP Spanish.

Spanish4teachers.org has FREE resources for teachers.:)

Better Lesson has resources for free, as well: http://betterlesson.com/community/directory/high_school/spanish

TES used to be free, but now many of the resources have to be purchased: https://www.tes.com/us

These free podcasts have accompanying worksheets that are not cheap, but are timesavers http://www.notesinspanish.com/store/

In addition to free materials, Zachary Jones as materials for purchase at http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/ebooks/

Bryce Hedstrom sells some reading resources http://www.brycehedstrom.com/shop-for-books

I hope you are able to find some free and low-cost items to make planning easier!



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Acentos perdidos

Estoy un poco obsesionada con un movimiento que promueve el uso correcto del la ortografía en español, y las tildes en particular. Todo comenzó con el siguiente comercial de Sprite que encontré en Internet mientras planeaba una lección sobre la importancia de las tildes para mis estudiantes de español como idioma de herencia.

Croeo que el comercial es un poco difícil de entender, hasta para mis estudiantes hispanohablantes, así que hice mi propia transcripción para acompañarlo. Tuve que escuchar muchas, muchas veces; si encuentran errores en mi transcripción, por favor, avísenme.

Sprite commercial accents

El protagonista de este movimiento es Pablo Zulaica. Él anda colocando tildes en vías públicas donde encuentra errores ortográficos.

acentos perdidos

Zulaica tiene su propio sitio, y lo que me gusta más del sitio es que se puede bajar las tildes con las reglas incluidas para imprimir y colocar en su propia ciudad. He estado pensando en un uso más didáctico, o sea, una actividad del aula que se puede hacer con las tildes. Yo podría tener palabras colgadas en las paredes, y los estudiantes tienen que poner la tilde con la regla correcta en la palabra correcta o algo así.

Plantilla acentos_x6FINAL

El sitio de “Acentos perdidos” con los recursos imprimibles es http://acentosperdidos.blogspot.com/search/label/Imprimibles

La revista TECLA para estudiantes de español tiene un artículo con preguntas de comprensión sobre el movimiento “Acentos perdidos” para nivel C en http://www.mecd.gob.es/dctm/ministerio/educacion/actividad-internacional/consejerias/reino-unido/tecla/2010/05-10c.pdf?documentId=0901e72b80b4b4dd

El movimiento “Acentos perdidos” llegó a ser un Ted Talk. Aquí les comparto un artículo y el video de TEDx en Cuauhtémoc, México.



Para dar un argumento más balanceado al debate sobre la ortografía, les dejo con este artículo sobre un discurso que dio el gran escritor Gabriel García Márquez sobre la ortografía española.




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Ernesto “Che” Guevara: ¿Héroe revolucionario?

After my students watch the film “Diarios de motocicleta” I want them to debate Che Guevara’s place in history. Here are the resources I found so far for planning the post-viewing activities.


The film paints a more positive, idealistic impression of Che, so I looked online for resources that would show a more critical view of him. I found an article and comprehension questions that a teacher created for the article. In the interest of time, I might shorten the article.



This is a unit of study about heroes, and Che Guevara is included.


What I find very interesting and hope to have time to do both are a song and a poem that speak positively of Che.

The song by Víctor Jara and is called “Zamba del Che.” Here are the lyrics and the audio:


The poem about Che Guevara was written by Nicolás Guillén, which surprised me; it never entered my mind that Nicolás Guillén witnessed the Cuban Revolution. It does make sense since he passed away in 1989. Theh poem is called “Che Comandante.” Here is the poem with an audio of Nicolás Guillén reading it.


Finally, I have one more song that I want to add in order to critically examine Che’s role in the history of Latin America. It is called “Mc Guevaras o Che Donalds” by Kevin Johansen. Here are the lyrics and the music video:


What I have left to do is write questions for the songs and poem to not only check for understanding, but also lead students to evaluate the opposing points of view

This web page has several lessons relating to Che Guevara; one has a rubric for an argumentative essay about Che. I think I will do more of an oral debate in Socratic seminar style. http://pier.macmillan.yale.edu/lesson-plans-5

Here is a podcast with comprehension questions about Che Guevara’s life: http://www.delearte.com/2013/11/podcastellano-ernestito-ernesto-y-el.html

Just about every time I research a topic for class, I stumble upon other topics that could be made into lessons. This time Víctor Jara and his compelling story caught my attention, and led me to a topic called the Chilean New Song Movement. Maybe someday I can get lessons together, but if the topic interests you, the yale.edu site I mentioned above has a lesson plan, and Smithsonian Folkways has a lesson at http://www.folkways.si.edu/latin-american-protest-songs-new-song-of-chile-and-cuba/tools-for-teaching/smithsonian






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