Teaching Mira Canion’s Tumba

This year is my third round teaching the novel Tumba in my Spanish 1 classes. You can see my previous post about Tumba here.


Adobe Spark (6)

A few thoughts, now that I’ve taught the novel a few times:

  • We read two chapters a day most days of this unit (a few days we don’t read at all). Students are interested in the story and seem motivated to keep reading after one chapter. I also teach on block schedule, so one chapter a day is too slow a pace for us.
  • Some of my favorite activities with the book:
    • Quizlet live 
    • Kahoot
    • Using the chapter art from the teacher’s guide as a listening activity  – I read a sentence, they match it to a picture
    • Using the chapter art as a writing prompt – summarize the chapter, write a sentence for each picture, etc.
    • Listening to several versions of Cielito Lindo with this activity from Martina Bex. I also love this version with Pavarotti and Enrique Iglesias
    • Listening to Calaverita by Santa Cecilia
    • The Mexican Revolution readings in the teacher’s guide – I thought they would be too hard for my students, but they exceeded my expectations and did quite well!
    • Fill in the blank vocab and verb activities – I use these as chapter reviews more often than giving comprehension questions, usually on Schoology so I don’t have to grade them. Here is an example: tumba cloze

This year we also did chapter skits as an assessment. It was my second time doing them, and to be honest, I’m not sure if the result is worth the class time it takes to prepare. One of my colleagues made a comment in passing last year that really challenged me: You can’t say you do differentiated instruction if you don’t have a single differentiated assessment. Ouch! I am guilty of hating projects and preferring to assess with paper and pencil tests. I decided this would be a good unit to assess differently. I don’t think this skit project is excellent differentiated instruction, but it’s what I was able to come up with this year. Next year, I need to clarify my goals before the unit begins and plan for an assessment that better aligns with that goal.

Disclaimers aside, if you want to try doing chapter skits, here are my instructions and here is my rubric. On performance day, I assigned each student a classmate to give positive feedback to. I asked them to write specific compliments about their performance – good pronunciation, good job remembering your lines, nice acting, etc. They wrote some really nice comments, and I think they enjoyed receiving them from their classmates. We also did “Tumba Oscars,” which was super fun. I wrote several categories on the board and students voted on slips of paper – best actor, best actress, best Spanish, most creative, funniest, best Sergio, best Alex…etc. I made certificates using a google slides template to surprise my winners with the next day.


Día de los Muertos Resources

With Fall Break coming up next week (hooray!) and homecoming week right after, I’m hitting Día de los Muertos early this year (also, invariably I see everyone’s wonderful Día de los Muertos lessons AFTER it’s already passed, so here ya go, folks – plenty of time to plan for your lessons!). Here’s what I’m doing:

Warm Up:

Screenshot 2014-10-09 09.54.53
Comparing and contrasting products and practices of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. No more, “Isn’t that Mexican Halloween?”

We brainstormed products and practices of Halloween, and wrote them on butcher-paper posters. I then put on some of the videos below, and asked them to look for the products and practices of Día de los Muertos.  Gracias Laura Sexton for the idea to approach it from the Products/Practices/Perspectives angle. 🙂


The Wild Thornberrys celebrateDía de los Muertos:

Travel Channel:

Catrina Make Up Tutorial:

I downloaded all the videos as FLVs with KeepVid and played them back to back with VLC media player – by downloading them I avoid internet connectivity issues and ensure that I’ll still have the videos if they’re later removed from Youtube. The Wild Thornberrys were actually pretty accurate, and held my students’ attention. The travel channel video is GREAT and short (though not quite as engaging as the Thornberrys), so if you’re on a tight schedule, go with that one. They also enjoyed the make up tutorial, and I showed them this picture of me from Halloween last year.

20131031_215313If you want to keep it all in the TL, you could movie talk this clip:

After the videos, we added the products and practices of Día de los Muertos to our poster. It’s a little messy, but here’s the result:2014-10-09 09.54.23 2014-10-09 09.54.37

I’m going to follow up tomorrow with some reflection questions, or possibly class discussion on the perspectives reflected in each culture’s holiday products and practices.