By the end of the chapter that I’ll be teaching when I get back from Christmas break, my students will have “learned” everything about the preterite–regular, irregular, stem-changing -ir, and verbs with spelling changes (car/gar/zar, i–y verbs). I want them to see and practice the verbs in some type of context, but my ideas are not that communicative. I’m thinking about writing a brief biography of Picasso and a brief history of Guernica in Spanish and making it into a cloze exercise where the students have to fill in the verbs and then answer reading comprehension questions about the information. I’m also thinking about having the students re-write Picasso’s biography in the form of an autobiography. A summative assessment might be writing a simple biography of a famous person, someone they know, or their own autobiography. I’m still pondering the possibilities.
I can do this for any Hispanic artist and work of art, not just Guernica. Picasso and Guernica are on my mind because I talked about them one day with the students during a presentation I gave in Spanish about art. Frida Kahlo’s paintings usually have a story behind them, documenting a major event in her life. Goya turns from bright paintings to dark images after becoming deaf as a result of illness, and he portrays historical events in paintings during the French occupation of Spain. Velazquez’s “Meninas” is always interesting to talk about. I’m supposed to be doing the preterite tense, but I think asking students to react to the art is very important. I recall a great presentation by Lisa Lilley at a conference where she described turning her classroom into a gallery and having students stand in front of the artworks and comment on them in Spanish. I think it would be a great time to review descriptive adjectives and vocabulary to describe feelings. I also saw where a teacher used art to practice verbs like gustar to tell opinions about the paintings. Here are some more ideas about using art: http://web.cortland.edu/flteach/FAQ/FAQ-Art.html and http://languagelinks2006.wikispaces.com/Art-based+Activities
Here are some resources I’ve collected about Guernica during my research: