Día de Muertos

“Gracias a las fiestas el mexicano se abre, participa, comulga con sus semejantes y con los valores que dan sentido a su existencia religiosa o política. Y es significativo que un país tan triste como el nuestro tenga tantas y tan alegres fiestas. Su frecuencia, el brillo que alcanzan, el entusiasmo con que todos participamos, parecen revelar que, sin ellas, estallaríamos. Ellas nos liberan, así sea momentáneamente, de todos esos impulsos sin salida y de todas esas materias inflamables que guardamos en nuestro interior.” Octavio Paz 

Whenever I plan a unit I do it keeping in mind that the ultimate goal is that my students will be able to communicate (at their proficiency level) with native speakers. We often discuss this in class, that a language is not a list of words that you memorize, and neither is a trophy to put on your bookshelf. Language is alive, and you keep it alive by using it.

Children, in general, are very open to this idea, and after a class, we had about proficiency, they have been making a conscious effort to add more ingredients to their proficiency sandwich (further explanation in a future post.)

They know also, that communicating successfully in a second language requires more than knowing words and sentences. It also requires being able to empathize with a speaker by bringing respect and cultural understanding to the mix.

I love teaching Dia de los Muertos because it offers,  not only a unique opportunity to tour an interesting perspective rooted in an ancient Mesoamerican belief about the cycle of life, but also an excellent chance for a deeper understanding of the diverse and rich culture of Mexico.

Since it is also one of my students’ favorite units, it provides a great chance for the acquisition of vocabulary within context, and opportunities for spontaneous language practice.

I’m Chilean so did not grow up celebrating this holiday, but I have learned so much about it from the Mexican students I once had, my Mexican friends, and the Mexican-American community in general.

Personally, I’m tremendously grateful for this new perspective on life and death. It has allowed me to switch the pain I used to feel about the death of my cousin and transform it into a celebration of her life by remembering all the happy moments we lived together.

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This is the perspective I expose my students to, that Dia de Muertos is a wonderful opportunity to keep their dear departed and ancestors memories in their heart ♥️

To assess learning in the past,  I usually had my novice-mid and novice-high students write informative pieces about the holiday. This year though, I wanted my students to take a sensory virtual trip  so I could introduce them to new verbs related to the senses. We had been using ver and escuchar for a long time, but this was the perfect chance to introduce saborear and oler.

I created these two fichas that sort of look like graphic organizers, to help my students take the trip. I played “La Llorona” by Angela Anguilar and asked them to close their eyes. Then I said ” Es 2 de noviembre, estamos en Mexico!” “¿Qué ves?”  They are used to play Veo, Veo so they started naming things right away.

Then I shared the ficha on the Promethean board and we brainstormed sentences before writing. I spread all the vocabulary flashcards on my rug. Each student grabbed a clipboard and a pencil and joined us in the rug.  I played Angela Aguilar playlist (per request of my students) as they wrote. Click on the picture to access the playlist on Spotify.

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Here are the two fichas. Feel free to share, download and spread the word by reposting and tagging friends. They will be freebies for a week only.

Please do not remove the authorship mark when you use them and do not forget to tag me if you use it with your students.

Here is the link to the Viaje Sensorial for Novice-High students and up viaje-5c-20sens_33844013-2

Here is the link to the Viaje Sensorial for Novice-Mid students viaje-5c-20sens_33869377

For love & justice.

Françoise Xx

 


“You have to understand, no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land”

Families Belong Together

Eleven years ago I taught ESL in Gwinnett county, Georgia. I did not only belong to best team of ESL teachers, but I also taught wonderful students, and was supported by hard-working, caring families. My students were immigrants.

I was an immigrant. I still am.

My students and their parents, carried on their shoulders a heavier burden than mine though. I could write a book with all tales told by my students during our readers and writers workshop time together. Tales of cold nights spent at the desert. Tales of uncertainty. Tales of escaping danger. Tales of parents working four jobs. Tales of  sharing a bed with five siblings. Tales of nostalgia for warm abuela’s cuddles. Tales of hope and resilience.

My heart has felt tight since I first heard about the separation of families at the border. I kept on picturing my back then kindergarteners in those scared faces I saw in the news. I thought to myself, what can I do besides donating money and weaving this theme into my curriculum as I have done before? (see below  – pictures of  the immigration project we did in 4th grade inspired by the Arpillera Women’s Movement in Chile)

Amidst this pondering, a good friend of mine, Carolina Gomez, a fellow educator, and source of inspiration, asked if I wanted to collaborate in the creation of resources  related to the topic. Resources that not only teachers, but homeschool guardians and parents can use with their kids.

Literature  has the power  to convey different aspects of the human experience,  it can help us see life from a different perspective. It offers vivid images that makes us feel we are part of the story.  There are studies that have proved that the empathy we feel for characters, wires our brains to have the same sensitivity towards real people.

Therefore, reading can help banish  the fear rooted in the human soul caused by the lack of familiarity and understanding of others. The type of fear that feeds stereotypes, racism, and hate.

Keeping all that in mind, I created a simple graphic poem.

I am an elementary Spanish teacher, so the resources I create, need to be developmentally appropriate for that age and also comprehensible for non native speakers.

This poem, though in both versions ( English and Spanish), can be used  with children of different ages.

I also created  Spanish and English worksheets  for the kids to write about or illustrate each stanza.  You will find all the attachments below this post.

Feel free to share, download and spread the word by reposting and tagging friends.

Do not forget tag me if you end up using it with your children.

Also visit Carolina’s blog  to download the story of Lilian.

For love & justice.

Françoise Xx

The title for this post was borrowed from the  wonderful poem Home  by Warsan Shire

Poema en Español e Inglés-2

Reading Comprehension Handout-2

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Digamos al partir nuestra canción, nuestra canción

¡Compis!

Is that time of the year again, fin de curso. My blog is not quite ready yet, but since many of you have requested that I make these resources available, I am doing an improv post for those who are still teaching these weeks of June.

These will be freebies until the end of August. If you decide to use them, please credit me and tag me on any pictures you post displaying your students work.

One is the self-evaluation/goal setting form (check my Instagram for details)

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and the other is an end of the year reflection called Mis Recuerdos Top de la Clase de Español.

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I made a poster (attached below) to help my students brainstorm ideas to fill in the Recuerdos form. Both of these fichas are such great meta-learning wrap-up activities. I have tried them with my students, and the results have been wonderful!

Muy buena suerte y fuerza para este fin de curso.

Cariños,

Françoise aka Profe Fran or @thewokespanishteacher

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