Tag: music

Don Quijote: El último caballero por Karen Rowan

.My Spanish III class revolves around the history and culture of Spain, so I was eager to work with Karen Rowan’s version of the classic Don Quijote: el último caballero. The last time I taught this class, I relied on my own episodios from a more difficult student reader, and I was pleased to find that Karen’s book is vastly superior to my own efforts!  Here are some of the things I have done so far, along with what is next:

Capítulo 1:

I introduced key structures with a mini-story, acted out by my wonderful student actors. Changeable details are underlined.

Target structures:

se volvió un poco loco

decidió quemar

llegó volando

Bob es un chico normal que trabaja en Wal-mart. Un día, Bob se volvió un poco loco porque un cliente molesto lo tocaba sin parar. Así que Bob agarró una espada Nerf y atacó al cliente, pero lo mató por accidente. Entonces Bob decidió quemar toda la evidencia. Hizo un fuego grande y se escapó, pero un helicóptero de la policía llegó volando. Bob fue capturado por la policía, pero cuando le explicó la situación con el cliente molesto, la policía exclamó “¡Yo comprendo!” y lo liberó.

Students drew pictures and wrote sentences using the new vocabulary as a follow-up, and we were able to read and discuss chapter one of Don Quijote without difficulties.

Capítulo 2

I used another mini-story to introduce target vocabulary.

Target Structures:

quería buscar a una dama

se enamoró inmediatamente

todos se rieron

Bob quería buscar buscar a una dama. Quería buscar el amor. Vio a una dama y se enamoró inmediatamente. La presentó a sus amigos, y todos se rieron.

This was a super-short story, and I used this creepy granny doll as the dama in question. Any prop that you have to make the dama ridiculous or funny would be a good one!

I followed up the mini-story with a love song in Spanish (“Chocolate” by Jesse y Joy, but there are many apt songs!) since this was right before Valentine’s Day. The next day, I had a sub day and my students read chapter two on their own and drew pictures to show understanding.

Capítulo 3

This was the famous windmill scene, so I wanted to really help students picture it. After writing the structures ejército de gigantes and molinos de viento on the board, we read and discussed the chapter. Students had to draw Don Quijote’s fantasy vs. Sancho Panza’s reality, and then we did a dictation which was a summary of the episode from Don Quijote’s perspective.

The next day, we reviewed stills from the 1979 cartoon of Don Quijote and then did a Movie Talk with the Youtube video:

Capítulo 4

After writing the target structures pastores y ovejas and les tiraron piedras on the board, I read the chapter aloud, throwing “piedras” (some pencil erasers) at students during the story.

Capítulo 5

My students read this chapter first in small groups and drew scenes with dialogue from the chapter. To cement understanding, we acted out the scene with actors perched on their desks and falling off of them. We then discussed why it was necessary to trick Don Quijote instead of just asking him to come home and made predictions about how Don Quijote would react to a year with no adventures.

Capítulo 6

I am going to pre-teach se dio cuenta de que with a PQA discussion about when students realized that Santa/the tooth fairy/the Easter bunny weren’t real. Then, students will read the final chapter individually while I play music from Strauss’s Don Quijote Op. 35. (One of my students remembered playing movements of this in her youth orchestra, and was trying to match what she played with what she was reading. This will be a surprise for her!)

We will then discuss what they read, focusing on whether Don Quijote is a tragic figure or merely ridiculous.


In searching around for related materials, I came across the short film Lila on Zachary Jones’s site.


We will Movie Talk the film, then students will complete the activity sheet posted on Zambombozo, separating reality from fantasy. Then students will read the analysis of the video on Zambombazo, showing comprehension by matching the more advanced Spanish of the given text with paraphrased passages in simpler Spanish. After discussing the text, students will have a writing assignment comparing themselves to both Don Quijote and Lila and answering the central question: “¿Es mejor vivir en el mundo real o en un mundo de fantasías?”

El monstruo de la laguna

I’ve talked before about using Name Cards on the first day of school to get to know students and provide content for creating mini-stories in the first days of school. Favorite activities are a no-brainer for novice students, but what about second year students? I like to get the ball rolling with the phrase “tiene miedo.” Students draw pictures of what they fear, and we build scenarios of students finding clowns in their lockers or sharks in the bathroom. It’s very useful for reviewing past vocabulary, too.

A natural segue for “tiene miedo” name cards is this little comic strip I found on Zachary Jones’s site. The language is super-simple for returning students, but you can use circling techniques to build up a background story for the little green monster and the redheaded girl. I like to finish by having students draw what happens next, then displaying possible scenarios, discussing them in Spanish, and voting on a class favorite. Whatever my students decide, I write up into an extended reading for another class period.


You can extend this little comic even further if you have access to Señor Wooly’s fabulous site! His video for “Guapo” makes for a perfect contrast. After viewing and discussing the video and accompanying readings, I like to have students do a Free Write in Spanish on who the REAL monster is: Victor,  or this little green sweetheart.

OR you could connect the monster in the comic to Canticuénticos’ “Cumbia del monstruo,” a catchy little dance song with lots of opportunities to teach different body parts.

One of the things I love about teaching with Comprehensible Input methods is how easy it can be to link authentic resources from different sources. How could you use this comic in your classroom?

Julieta Venegas “Me Voy”

My Spanish I class has been reading Blaine Ray’s novel “Pobre Ana” this quarter, and doing quite a good job with it. In chapter seven, Ana says goodbye to all her friends in Mexico, and I decided to use the catchy song “Me Voy” by Julieta Venegas to pre-teach that structure.

First, I wrote the following structures on the board:

Quiere despedirse de = She wants to say goodbye (break up with)

Me voy = I’m going

Me despido de ti = I’m saying goodbye to you

(Reflexive pronouns can make verb forms look quite different, so at this level I treat the infinitive and the conjugated form as two different structures.)

I used them to tell a story:

Hay una chica que se llama Julieta. Julieta tiene un novio, Romeo. Romeo es un novio muy malo. Juega videojuegos, come la pizza, y bebe Mountain Dew todos los días. Nunca presta atención a su novia.

Un día, Julieta quiere despedirse de Romeo. Le dice, “Adiós,” pero Romeo no le escucha. Entonces, Julieta le escribe una carta. La carta dice,

“Querido Romeo, Me despido de ti. Adiós, Julieta.” 

Pero Romeo es muy peresozo y nunca lee la carta. Por fin, Julieta toca la guitarra y le canta. Le canta, “¡Me voy! Qué lástima, pero adiós. Me despido de ti.” Después, Julieta se sube a un globo aerostático y se va. Romeo llora porque ahora no tiene una novia.

After circling the story for a bit, I showed the video, and students had to match Spanish lyrics with their English equivalents.

The next day, we read Pobre Ana with no problems because students recognized the vocabulary!