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: (you have to register; it’s free) (scroll down to the “Como agua para chocolate” resources)

materials for purchase

film and lesson plans for purchase

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


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

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:

Quiz-Quiz-Trade from Martina Bex:

Jigsaw reading:

Blind sequencing–great for stories (example is from social studies):

Packet of picture sequences that could be used for blind sequencing:

Videos and explanations of multiple cooperative strategies:

Cooperative learning toolbox for $7 at TpT:



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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:

The TELL Project (Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning):

Training modules, videos and other resources at

Dr. Cherice Montgomery has great resources:

–Language Links 2006:

–Meaningful Methods:

–Teens and Tech:

–Think Thematic:

TPRS Storytelling has a youtube channel:

I found these language teaching modules from Texas:

Wiki for new world language teachers:

ACTFL has a virtural learning library, but the videos cost money:

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

Highly Engaged Classroom

Qualities of exceptional teachers:

How to accept constructive criticism:








Link | Posted on by | 1 Comment

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

Top 10 Chilean protest songs

Los Prisioneros and protest songs from the 80’s

El equipo fantasma de Chile and lesson plan

Chilean new song movement

Resources for “La nueva canción chilena”

Resource from

Chile and Violeta Parra:

“Gracias a la vida” por Violeta Parra:






Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.




Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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

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. has a blog and its own store at is a favorite of mine, with lots of free activities as well as a few items for purchase in their store at

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

Spark Enthusiasm a plethora of resources for purchase at has free and for-purchase materials at

This site only has a couple of reasonably-priced resources, but I believe they will add more with time:

This site has free audio with the option to purchase worksheets for listening and reading comprehension:

Teachers Pay Teachers is full of resources:


Weekly news readings


Project-based learning


Thematic units from Miraflores or (might be easier to navigate)

Music-related resources

Free Spanish resources

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. has FREE resources for teachers.:)

Better Lesson has resources for free, as well:

TES used to be free, but now many of the resources have to be purchased:

These free podcasts have accompanying worksheets that are not cheap, but are timesavers

In addition to free materials, Zachary Jones as materials for purchase at

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



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Creo 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

La revista TECLA para estudiantes de español tiene un artículo con preguntas de comprensión sobre el movimiento “Acentos perdidos” para nivel C en

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.



Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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.—enlaces-interpretativos

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.

Here is a podcast with comprehension questions about Che Guevara’s life:

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 site I mentioned above has a lesson plan, and Smithsonian Folkways has a lesson at






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

“Diarios de motocicleta”

This year I showed the film “Diarios de motocicleta” for my AP Spanish Language classes. I had not shown it for a few years because when I changed schools, I found out that my students had already seen it in their previous Spanish classes. This year I was certain that my students had not seen it in any classes so I showed it, partly because it is a compelling movie, and partly because I was exhausted and needed a bit of a break.

I was disappointed with myself about how little we did with the movie other than watch it, so I have been outlining some pre-, during, and post-viewing activities. I wrote in my blog about my ideas for using the poems “A Roosevelt” and “La United Fruit Co.” before the movie and plan to use readings, songs, and poems about Che Guevara after the film. This post is about resources available for the film itself. I like to pick and choose what I consider to be the best portions of each resource.

diarios infographic

At my previous school, I limited myself to using the the FilmArobics film and lesson plans that I purchased. The cultural notes and comprehension questions are good resources.

Here are some lesson plans compiled by other teachers for the film: What I particularly like about this resource is an activity using the song “McGuevara o CheDonalds” by Kevin Johansen. There are free things and materials for purchase on this site. (You’ll have to scroll down to find links to resources for teaching about Che Guevara and the film.)—packet.doc This is mostly in English, but there are good cultural notes. This is from the textbook Cinema for Spanish Conversation by Hackett Publishing Company.

There are several lessons about Che Guevara and the film “Diarios de motocicleta” at

This a tool from TES Connect called “Blendspace” where teachers can organize links to resources about a topic:

If you want a copy of the book off of which the film is based, there is a pdf available at

One thing that I did at my previous school was to assign a South America project so that the students could learn about some of the places and cultural references from the film. The students’ presentations had to be interactive, and some got quite creative. One student taught us to dance the Cumbia and another made  jigsaw puzzles out of works of art by South American painters. Here is the handout I gave; I warn you, it is very basic!



Posted in AP Spanish Language and Culture, Lesson Planning, spanish lessons | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“La United Fruit Co.” por Pablo Neruda

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am planning to use the poem “La United Fruit Co.” published by Pablo Neruda in 1950 in a series of pre-viewing lessons for the film “Diarios de motocicleta.”


A text called Graded Spanish Reader: Primera Etapa by Cengage Learning has pre- and post-reading activities for the poem. It also has other good readings for upper level Spanish classes.

The textbook Pasajes: Literatura also has good pre- and post-reading activities. What I particularly like about this book is that it has a very nice black-and-white drawing of the poem that students can use to interpret the poem.

As with the poem “A Roosevelt” there are references to historical figures that the students will not recognize. Again, I’d like to mention Momentos cumbres de las literaturas hispanicas published by Pearson as a resource. What is particularly useful in this text is that it has “códigos” before each reading to help students to understand background information for the literary work, such as social, political, historical and geographical contexts. Someone has so kindly placed the contexts and some of the questions for “La United Fruit Co.” into a Word document.

Here is a gem that a teacher created to accompany the movie “Diarios de motocicleta.” The lessons are found at and include “La United Fruit Co.” Just scroll down to  “Diarios de motocicleta: La evolución del Che” to access the documents. One item that the teacher incorporates that I find particularly interesting is a mural by Diego Rivera that I had not previously seen called “Gloriosa Victoria.”


Here are resources about the mural that are in English. One interesting fact about the painting is that it disappeared in 1956 and did not re-appear until 2006  It is also interesting to note that Ernesto “Che” Guevara was in Guatemala during the CIA-backed coup in 1954 and witnessed what was happening.

Another resource that not only works with the poem but also the socio-political context for the poem is the site

If you are interested in teaching more about the United Fruit Company, now called Chiquita, the Zinn Education Project has a video clip and reading excerpt in English at

I think the following illustration would be useful to show the reach of the United Fruit Company in Latin America:


An historical event that relates to the poem is la masacre de las bananeras in Ciénaga, Colombia in 1928, which was a confrontation between the United Fruit Company and the workers. Gabriel García Márquez included this event in his novel Cien años de soledad.

Here is a good text about the massacre:

Here is a political cartoon that relates to the text about the massacre:


Here is a short, animated video that briefly describes the conflict:

In looking at the resources I have gathered, I believe the best way to organize the lessons would be to start with a brief history of Banana Republics and the United Fruit Company, incorporated the Colombian banana massacre and the Guatemalan coup as illustrated in the mural “Gloriosa Victoria.”

The next step would be pre-reading work with the vocabulary and concepts from the poem “La United Fruit Co.” Finally we will read and analyze the poem. Since I plan for the students to read “A Roosevelt” before this poem, we can then see how Neruda’s portrayal of the United States compares with that of Darío.

At this point the students are ready to watch the film “Diarios de motocicleta.” I believe the scene where the students can most strongly connect the poems to events in the film is the one at the Chuquicamata mine, owned by the U.S. Anaconda Mining Company.

After the film, my plan is to have students explore the life of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and the development of his revolutionary beliefs that motivated his later actions, leading to a student debate about his place in history.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments