Teaching “La hija del sastre”

I assisted a colleague in preparing to teach “La hija del sastre” and I must confess that I became so fascinated with what I learned about modern-day issues in Spain caused by the Spanish Civil War that I wish I could have taught the book myself!

I typically do a good deal of research before teaching a topic, and through research for this TPRS novel I learned about a law in Spain called, “La ley de la memoria histórica.” It’s intention is to recognize the victims on both sides of the Spanish Civil War and to condemn the fascist regime of Francisco Franco.

I will share with you here some very interesting material that I would use to create lessons to accompany “La hija del sastre.” The are resources and not necessarily ready for student consumption; the language would be way above the level of the students. I would love to someday have the time to turn these resources into teaching materials. If I do, I will post them!

La ley de la memoria histórica:

Here are the main points of the law: https://www.publico.es/actualidad/diez-claves-ley-memoria-historica.html

Here are links to teaching resources about the law: https://neiljones.org/2013/06/30/la-ley-de-memoria-historica/

Some interesting teaching units: http://historicalmemory-spain.weebly.com/units.html

If you do an image search for “la de la memoria histórica” you will find political vignettes for both sides of the issue that students can interpret. There are also several here: http://pepeolivercabrera.blogspot.com/2009/11/la-memoria-historica-34-anos-de-la.html

La Valle de los Caídos: I visited this site with students many years ago, and much to my surprise, I saw in the news online that the Spanish government had decided to remove Franco’s remains from the site. This caused quite a stir in Spain, as you can imagine.

Here is a news article about the exhumation: https://www.elsaltodiario.com/valle-caidos/isaac-rosa-asi-sacaron-franco-valle-caidos

This article talks about the protests about moving Franco’s body with photos and a video of people doing Fascist salutes (terrifying!): https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20180715/45920698012/protesta-valle-caidos-exhumacion-franco.html

Removal of monuments of Franco:

Here is a worksheet created by a teacher using a news article: https://mfljones.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/la-operacic3b3n-se-desarrollc3b3-esta-madrugad1.pdf

This is an article in Spanish from NewsELA about the removal of Confederate monuments in the U.S.; I think this would be a good compare/contrast or debate topic (you need to create a free account to access the article): https://newsela.com/read/confederate-statues-procon-spanish/id/30707/ 

For more historical topics, students could explore images and songs, and the involvement of U.S. citizens in the conflict.

Spanish Civil War propaganda posters:

the Abraham Lincoln Brigade:

Patriotic songs from the Spanish Civil War:

Another song with worksheets: https://profdespagnol.blogspot.com/2018/09/madre-anoche-en-las-trincheras-guerra.html


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Teaching about El Salvador

As I shared in a previous post, my husband is from El Salvador, and I have visited several times. I am in my first year out of the classroom after 25 years of teaching, but I feel the need to return to the academic world, though not necessarily as a teacher.

Last year I assisted in preparing a class that included the TPRS novel “Vida y muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha.” While the book is fine, I realized that the majority of the teaching resources that exist are around El Salvador’s civil war and the Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha. I think the focus on these two violent topics do not give students a full picture of El Salvador and its people.

Additionally, this year I am working in a bilingual school, and the focus seems primarily on Mexican culture and traditions.

These two experiences have led me to want to create children’s books and teaching materials about El Salvador, though I am not sure where to begin.

Some ideas I have are around the following topics:

Children’s books on the holidays in El Salvador, such as Semana Santa, Día de los Difuntos, Navidad, el Año Nuevo.

Foods from El Salvador. Pupusas are becoming more recognized and are quite delicious. They could even be made in the classroom. Something I find interesting is that foods with the same name in Mexico and El Salvador are actually quite different. For example, a quesadilla is a sweet bread made from cheese. Enchiladas and pasteles are also completely different foods in El Salvador than in Mexico.

Salarrué was an artist and writer from El Salvador. The language he uses in his short stories are hard to understand, but I think I could re-write a few in simpler language.

Fernando Llort’s art has become a symbol of El Salvador.

Roque Dalton was an poet and dissident who was murdered during the civil war. Two great poems are “Como tú” and “Alta hora de la noche.”

Salvadoran folktales such as la Siguanaba and el Cadejo in simple Spanish.

El Salvador’s major products are sugar cane and coffee. Two tourist industries that El Salvador is cultivating are cacao and indigo (añil).

One rather disturbing thing I observed while in El Salvador is that there seems to be a high number of people who suffer from renal problems. I surmise this is related to pesticides used on crops like sugar cane but studies have not been definitive. Medical care is also lacking.

El Salvador has many of the things that places like Mexico have to offer, but on a much smaller scale. Unfortunately, El Salvador currently has a limited tourist industry and they have not cared for their nature and wildlife like Costa Rica has. Archaeological exploration is small scale. I would love to see El Salvador invest more in these areas.

There are some amazingly beautiful places in El Salvador. I hope one day soon the current violence in El Salvador subsides so that teachers and students can appreciate what El Slavador has to offer!


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Are you ready for AP Spanish Exam day?

The most challenging part of the AP Spanish Language and Culture course, in my opinion, is administering the exam. I’ll describe what I do get everything ready for the Big Day. If you have a kick-butt AP Coordinator at your school, then maybe they already do this for you.

We use digital voice recorders. I have every one labeled with a number. I make sure each one has fully-charged batteries and have all the correct settings, like the volume turned up. When students check their recordings at the end, they might think they haven’t recorded anything, when it might actually just be the volume. 🙂 I also have a cheat-sheet (AP exam recording instructions sound recorder) that I tape inside the tri-fold foam board the students use for privacy and to reduce sound since there are 10 students in the room recording at a time. The conversation and the cultural comparison have to be together in one recording, so the students have to practice this before the exam.

We test a large number of students since most of our students are heritage Spanish speakers. This year, 2018, we are testing 107 students. I follow the recommendation in the proctor’s manual to put a recorder in a bag. I label the bag with the names of the 2 students who will be using that recorder since they do the recording in two testing groups. I put the recorders in a plastic basket, one for each testing room. This year we will have 6 testing rooms.

If you use computers or a computer lab, there are other instructions. Chromebooks are not allowed for the 2018 exam unless you contacted College Board before March 1st. Ipads are accepted and have an app that you must use.

I have already coordinated with my tech team to be available in the afternoon to download the recordings from the voice recorders, name the files with the AP student number, and upload them to the DAS portal since I cannot touch them. My AP Coordinator set up the account for the tech team. The email to the AP Coordinator for setting up the DAS is typically sent in April.

I create a seating chart for each room. On that chart, I note in which recording group each student will be and which recorder they will use. I like to do this in case there is some issue with a recording. That way we know whose it is.

We use CD players for the CD’s that are used in several parts of the exam. We used laptops one year, but a teacher’s laptop went into sleep mode but the CD continued on and it threw some students off when they missed a bit of the recording. I put the CD player in each room and test it. Some rooms need an extension cord or power strip, so I have a few of those. Second-hand stores are great for those things.

I prepare a binder for each proctor that includes the proctor’s manual. I highlight the relevant information and cross out the recording instructions that do not pertain to them. I also meet with the proctors and go through all the parts, especially the recording.

The afternoon before the exam, we set up each room according to the seating chart and label each desk or table with who should sit there, and in which recording group they are. We make sure all desks or tables are 5 feet apart for the paper-pencil parts of the exam according to the instructions on pp. 55-58 of the Coordinator’s Manual. The manual also give specifications for recording set-up. I leave the correct number of tri-fold boards in the room for the recording.

Since there are two recording groups and group 1 cannot interact with group 2 should they reveal what the recordings are about, group 2 is eating lunch in a room while group 1 trickles into a different room as each testing room finishes to eat their lunch and return to class. As soon as a group 1 room finishes, the group 2 that tests in that room is sent to record.

Occasionally there is a problem with a CD or a recording. The technology fails, or the student makes a mistake in recording. The Coordinator’s Manual has information on pages 62-71 that deals with administration incidents (this one is 2016-17) that tells what to do in different situations.

I think that is it! If I remember anything else, I’ll be sure to add it. ¡Suerte con todo!





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También la lluvia

I’ve taught this film to my AP Spanish Language class, and I like how it addresses the idea of history repeating itself, treatment of indigenous peoples, and the right to access of natural resources.

Here is what I gathered for showing the film and a few activities I tried.

Lesson plans: https://discoveringci.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/tambien-la-lluvia/

Unit packet: http://www.ceauthres.com/2017/04/flipgrid-for-interpersonal-speaking-and.html

Movie guides:



http://www.piensaelcine.com/curso-para-estudiantes-de-ele/tambien-la-lluvia/ (scroll down for questions and activities)


https://teachinglatinamericathroughliterature.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/educators-guide_even-the-rain_9-2-15.pdf (in English)





I used the text of the sermon from the Fray de Montesinos on page 3 of the following document with my students. We worked with 3 primary documents: this excerpt of the sermon, the part of Columbus’ first letter to the King of Spain that is mentioned in the film, and the Ten Commandments in Spanish that I found online.


https://parklanguagesus.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/76048043/unidad%20did%20tambien%20la%20lluvia.pdf (I used the biographies in this packet before we began watching the film.)

I also did an activity with part of Diego Rivera’s mural that shows the Conquest. I used an activity from blog by Rebecca M. Bender, PhD. In her blog entry about Picasso, she gave students an image of “Guernica” and had them write phrases from a poem near parts of the painting which, in their opinion, showed similarities and differences between the two. I had students use phrases from the Fray de Montensino’s sermon to tie to images in the mural.

TpT has movie resources for sale:





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Día Internacional de la Eliminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer

Una actividad para conmemorar el Día International del la Elminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer podría ser trabajar con la canción “Malo” por la cantante española Bebé.










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La película “Sleep Dealer”

En mi clase de AP Spanish Language enseño la película “Sleep Dealer.” Abarca varios temas del curso de AP, como la inmigración, la familia, la tecnología y los recursos naturales. Creo que también se puede incorporar el tema de las maquiladoras en la frontera entre México y los Estados Unidos. Como obra cinematográfica tiene sus limitaciones, pero es una película hecha en México y no en Hollywood, lo que yo aprecio. Hay una escena de sexo por si no quieren enseñar esa parte.


Aquí les comparto lo que he encontrado en Internet para enseñar esta película.

Información sobre la película http://www.bbc.com/mundo/cultura_sociedad/2009/12/091207_pelicula_mexicana-re

Guía didáctica http://www.languagesresources.co.uk/Resources/SPANISH/Sp%20A%20Level/Culture/Film/Sleep%20Dealer.pdf

otra guía http://www.cinelangues.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/DOSSIERSLEEPDEALER-PDF.pdf

Guía de TES (cuesta $3) https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/movie-guide-the-sleep-dealer-11498328

mis preguntas de comprensión Sleep Dealer questions

Yo compré la película de Amazon, pero está disponible en línea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqySQuS1BRQ




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Resources for teaching HLL’s

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is currently a gap in materials and methodologies for teaching Heritage Language Learners. It is widely acknowledged that HLL’s have needs that differ from second language learners, but how that actually manifests itself in the classroom is not that clear. I personally think that approaches such as project-based learning, service learning, and content-based instruction would work well in HLL courses.

Here are a few resources that help guide teachers with specific types of activities that can be used with HLL’s.

Guidelines for instructional materials: http://international.ucla.edu/nhlrc/page/curriculumguidelines/materials

Scholarly article about the role of grammar: https://csctfl.wildapricot.org/resources/Documents/2015Report/Chapter%2011.pdf

Workshop handout about adapting and creating materials: https://www.coerll.utexas.edu/coerll/sites/coerll.utexas.edu.coerll/files/coerll_heritagespanish-wkshp-2016_handouts.pdf

Mike Peto’s blog: https://mygenerationofpolyglots.com/heritage-speakers/

Strategies for teaching HLL’s from the Ohio DOE: https://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Foreign-Language/World-Languages-Model-Curriculum/World-Languages-Model-Curriculum-Framework/Instructional-Strategies/Assessment/Heritage-learners_june6_2017.pdf.aspx

Links to lessons and units: https://heritagespanish.coerll.utexas.edu/resources/activities/ and https://heritagespanish.coerll.utexas.edu/resources/textbooks/

Some teaching units: http://cf.linnbenton.edu/artcom/foreign_language/casasm/web.cfm?PgID=9730

Spanish Language Arts Curriculum Guide from NYC: http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/CF6EDD53-9581-44FF-B390-8F5AEA5461F7/0/SNLACGFinal092413_khFINAL.pdf

Teacher’s case study of teaching HLL course: http://schd.ws/hosted_files/tfla2016annualconference/93/A%20Different%20Approach%20to%20our%20Heritage%20Students.pdf

List of texbooks for HLL’s: https://heritagespanish.coerll.utexas.edu/resources/textbooks/

Adventures in heritage teaching: https://adventuresinheritageteaching.com/

A couple of Facebook groups for teachers:



My course syllabi: https://senorab1972.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/my-pre-ap-and-ap-spanish-course-syllabi/




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National Board Renewal WLOE-EAYA

I am working on my renewal for my National Board certification in World Languages Other than English, Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood. I have been trying to find support groups and resources for the renewal process because I find the instructions to be rather vague and the rubric even more so. I do not want to waste time and money doing it again next year because I simply did not understand what was required. I am going to compile a list of resources here that I have found so far, and I’ll add to entries to my blog as I complete the process in hopes of helping others through the journey.

NBPTS Renewal Resources and Forms: http://www.nbpts.org/national-board-certification/candidate-center/renewal-candidate-resources/

Instructions for the electronic portfolio submission. This part seems to be the most confusing/frustrating, according to what I have read on the Facebook group, so plan ahead for this. I got an e-mail in March with instructions for registering at the online submission website and how to get a code that I needed. http://www.nbpts.org/national-board-certification/candidate-center/eportfolio-submission/

Electronic submission page–it may take multiple days to upload, so do not wait until May 16. Mailing the box was easier! http://www.nbpts.nesinc.com/Home.aspx

I filmed my classes before I read the suggestions for making the video a small size. I hope it all works out when I edit it! http://www.nbpts.org/wp-content/uploads/RecommendedVideoFormatsandSettings.pdf

Utah National Board Coalition: printable organizers to help you identify and develop your 4 PGE’s http://utahnationalboardcoalition.weebly.com/renewal-candidates.html

More help with organizing your PGE’s http://www.chemistar.com/blog/national-board-certification-renewal-evidence-of-impact-on-student-learning/

National Board Resource Center in Illinois: podcasts and printable organizers for Renewal Candidates https://nbrc.illinoisstate.edu/nbcts/renewal/jumpstartintorenewal/index.php

South Carolina’s CERRA has a Power Point for Renewal Candidates https://www.cerra.org/uploads/1/7/6/8/17684955/national_board_renewal_2017.2018_cerra__3_.pptx

CERRA also has training videos from 2012 https://youtu.be/ZSsJQt_Giv4 and https://youtu.be/uH31MCJ5_nk

Here is a CERRA handout http://horrycountyschools.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_743372/File/Staff%20Development/Renewal%20Toolkit.pdf

Resources from the Stanford National Board Research Center https://nbrc.stanford.edu/renewal-support

PPT from a 2011 Conference for teachers in Virginia https://ctl.vcu.edu/downloads/1213Files/RenewalWorkshop2011Conf.ppt

Blog with resources and advice from a school counselor who went through renewal in 2013, including a link to a Yahoo group for renewal candidates http://thecreativecounselor.blogspot.com/2014/04/renewing-national-board-certification.html

Arkansas Center for National Board Certification PPT from 2014 http://www.arnationalboardcertification.com/uploads/UALR_Renewal_Workshop_PowerPoint.pdf

Renewal at a Glance! Beth Edwards, Renewed NBCT: The video has an automated voice, so it sounds odd, but the content of each PPT slide appears below the video and the PPT is downloadable http://slideplayer.com/slide/5742362/

A Slideplayer presentation without audio for Component #2: It’s from 2012, so the videotaping requirements are a bit different (videos are now directly uploaded to NBPTS, according to what I understand) http://slideplayer.com/slide/5742364/

Another Slideplayer (again, weird voice on video), this time for Component #3 http://slideplayer.com/slide/3941840/

I found a large number of Pinterest pins. My trouble with those boards is that sometimes I feel like I’m looking for a needle in a haystack, as the saying goes. https://www.pinterest.com/search/boards/?q=national%20board%20renewal&rs=filter

This is a Wikispaces page so it won’t be around for much longer, but it was updated in 2017, so I think the material is current https://getitpd.wikispaces.com/NBCT+Renewal

Facebook renewal group that is very activce https://www.facebook.com/groups/788461007922606/

Pro Teacher has a lively discussion group, though the conversation is primarily around 1st time certification http://www.proteacher.net/discussions/forumdisplay.php?f=61

This is from 2004, but it still appears to align with the 8 criteria in the renewal rubric https://www2.k12albemarle.org/dept/instruction/arc/teachers/NBCT/Documents/Understanding_the_Renewal_Decision_20061.pdf


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I think this would make a good topic for an advanced Spanish class, or a heritage speakers’ class. It could work in a high school ESL or Social Justice class, as well. I see gentrification happening currently in Latino and African American neighborhoods of Denver.

Here is a video from Mexico City. https://www.facebook.com/ajplusespanol/videos/1785109794874695/

Anti-gentrification saint http://latinousa.org/2017/06/28/meet-anti-gentrification-saint-mexico-city/

More about the saint in Spanish http://noticieros.televisa.com/ultimas-noticias/cdmx/2017-06-13/santa-mari-la-juaricua-patrona-gentrificacion-cdmx/

Song in Spanish called “Se van” https://boogat.bandcamp.com/track/se-van

Song in English called “Rican Beach” http://www.latinorebels.com/2016/12/05/hurray-for-the-riff-raff-releases-anti-gentrification-anthem-rican-beach/

Lesson plans in English




Lesson plans in English and Spanish





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Games for Spanish Class

When I was out on maternity leave 13 years ago, I typed up a description of classroom activities for my substitute. I was looking them over the other day, and thought they might make a useful blog post for changing things up when kids need to get moving or need some socialization. I think most of these were made up by other people, do I am not going to take any credit for them. 🙂


DRY-ERASE GAME:  Students are in groups of 3-4 by their seating arrangement.  Each group needs a small dry-erase board, marker, and paper towel or clean sock.  I draw stairs or a ladder on the board.  Each group chooses a magnet from my blue basket of magnets.  I give a sentence in English that practices as much vocabulary and grammar from a given unit or lesson as possible.  I also like to throw in vocab and grammar from previous units.  Students write the translation on their boards.  When all are finished, I ask to see the sentences, and then I move the magnets of all correct groups up one stair.  I have tried to think of ways to make each student responsible, but the thing that I do now is remind students to take turns writing the sentences.  Students like this game.  You need about 20 minutes for a good game, so if you have less than that, you can do board races or the translation game.

TRANSLATION GAME:  Some students don’t care much for this game, but it is good when there is only 10 minutes left and you don’t want to start another activity.  The first person in each row takes out a scrap of paper.  You give a sentence in English and each person writes one or two words of the sentence in Spanish on the paper then passes it back.  Every person in the row should write at least one word.  When the sentence is finished, the row must hold up the paper, not their hands.  If they are still writing or bring the paper down to write more, it does not count.  The first row to hold up the paper and have the sentence correct gets a point.

BOARD RACES:  Either divide the class into teams or use the note cards they filled out on the first day to randomly choose two people to go up to the board.  In English, give them something short to write, like a current vocabulary word or grammatical concept, that they have to write in Spanish.  Either the first one correct wins a point for the team, or stays up and goes against another student until he/she loses.  I don’t do this activity very often because only 2 students are engaged at a time.

TEAM GAMES WITH CARDS:  Divide the room into two teams.  Pass out the cards with Spanish words on them to the teams.  One team usually gets cards with red writing and the other black.  Some students may have more than one card, but I don’t let any student have more than two or three.  You stand at the back of the room and read a sentence in English.  The first group go up to the front of the room and get the correct cards in the correct order gets a point.  The kids like this game.  It can get loud. I have also done with more sets of cards and students forming smaller groups. They spread the cards on the floor. I use this mostly when word order is different from English, such as with pronouns.

MATAMOSCAS:  Put the overhead on the projector and put a transparency of flies with words in Spanish on the overhead.  Divide the class into two teams.  Call out a word in English and the first person to swat it gets a point for his/her team.  If they behave inappropriately with the flyswatters, the game is immediately over. I got this from another teacher; I don’t know who the original author is. Here is my template:

flyswatter game template

“CIRCLE” GAME: I give each student a piece of scrap paper and have them all write a list of words in the target language randomly in multiple directions. Then they partner up, using one paper at a time (we can play 2 rounds). Each partner needs a different colored writing utensil. The teacher calls out a word in English and the students try to circle the word on their paper before the other person. At the end, they total up the number of circles in their color to see who wins. I have made game pages for the students using pictures, as well, such as this example:

LIKE AND VERBS circle game

TIC TAC TOE:  I usually have the students work in groups of three, with one student having the answer key and playing the winner.  The two students who are playing play a normal game of tic-tac-toe except that they must write the correct answer in the square in order to put their X or O.  The person with the answer key tells them whether or not they are correct.  If they are not correct, they do not get to put an X or O and that square is still available.   Here is the template:


GRAB GAME:  I have students make sets of flashcards on 3×5 notecards that practice vocabulary or grammar.  You should enough cards for kids to work with partners, but you can also have them make enough for each student.  The students can use the cards to like flashcards to quiz each other.  Then they spread them out between them for a game.  I call a word in English and they try to grab it in Spanish before their partner.  Then I call in Spanish and they grab the English.  They like this game, but it can get loud.  I have also made them myself using pictures.

BLIND SEQUENCING:  Each group of 3-4 students has an envelope of pictures.  Keeping the pictures face down, they are distributed evenly among the group members.  Each group member looks at his/her pictures only, and describes each to the group in SPANISH.  Once every picture has been described to the group in Spanish, the group decides in which order the pictures should go chronologically, STILL KEEPING THE PICTURES FACE DOWN.  Once the order is agreed upon, the pictures are turned face up to see whether or not the order is correct.  Pick someone from each group to describe pictures aloud in Spanish.

 SHOWDOWN:  Students are in groups of 3-4.  Each student has a scrap of paper, folded in half.  Teacher asks a question and student writes response on paper without showing the other students his/her answer.  The teacher says “showdown” and the students compare their answers with their group members.  You can have them pick a score keeper and keep track of how many times the entire group gets one correct.

TWINS:  Each student gets a card with information on it.  Students must question other students about the information on their cards in order to find the person with the exact same information.  They may NOT show their cards to others, just ask questions in Spanish.  When they find their twin, they sit.  It is a fairly quick activity if you only have 3-5 pieces of information on each card. Here is an example for beginning level 1:

EP Twins Game

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