Culture & Civilization - Spanish 1 - Mis Clases Locas

Box 1

Box 1
Teaching with Novels

Box 2

Box 2

Box 3

Box 3
Meet Sra. Wienhold

Culture & Civilization - Spanish 1

This year with our switch from trimesters to semesters, I have the opportunity to teach an optional extension to Spanish I. I decided to title the class Culture & Civilization (title from Kara Jacobs) and focus on comprehensible culture. Since it is an optional class, I wanted it to be fun and interesting, while still providing the needed input in Spanish to help these students be better prepared for Spanish II in the fall. I sent out a Google form to those signed up with many culture ideas that we could investigate and learn about as a class, including: lucha libre, bullfighting, medio ambiente, immigration, health, superstitions, biblioburro, native civilizations, la guerra sucia, guachos, yipao parade, fairy tales, geography, la tomatina, geography, culture opiñatas, specific countries of study, music, food, holidays, etc. Their results guided my planning of this class. 

Since they wanted to learn about such a wide variety of topics, I decided to keep most as short cultural mini units. This way no had had the chance to get bored and everyone gets to learn about their number one choice. Also, I wanted our study to be currently relevant, so as much as possible we studied festivals and celebrations that were happening at the moment. In addition to our units, students completed 5 points bi-weekly of choice real world homework, to make sure they were also experiencing culture locally and outside of class. Many thanks to the wonderful resources of others, which made planning these units so much easier! Below are the units we have completed so far, as well as our tentative plans for the rest of the trimester. 

Unit 1 - La Guerra Sucia

See my plans for this mini unit by clicking on the image below.  

Unit 2 - Las Fallas

See my plans for this mini unit by clicking on the image below.  

Unit 3 - Semana Santa

See Martina Bex's plans for this mini unit by clicking on the image below.

Unit 4 - La Tomatina

See Martina Bex's plans for this mini unit by clicking on the image below.
image source

Unit 5 - Tumba - novel by Mira Canion

I decided to do one culturally centered novel in this class and knew Tumba would be the perfect fit. Using the teacher's guide would be a great way to talk about The Day of the Dead, as well as many aspects of the culture and history of Mexico. 
See my posts for this novel unit by clicking on the image below.

Unit 6 - Bullfighting

See Elizabeth Dentlinger's plans & resources for this mini unit by clicking on the image below. Have you seen all of the wonderful resources she has posted for this unit for free! Mil gracias!

Unit 7 - Comida

I have not planned this unit yet, but plan on doing something similar to Kara Jacob's Gastronomia unit, focusing on the cuisine of a couple Spanish speaking countries. I know I will use many of the awesome Zachary Jones activities such as "¡Qué rico!". I figure this will be a fun and lighthearted way to end the year. It was their top pick, probably because they have hopes of being able to try food out in class ;) I would like to include an end of year field trip to a local authentic Mexican restaurant is possible. 

NEW* - Final - Culture Project

A couple units we are not using based on student choice, but would fit well are the following:
Piñata Mini Unit
Geography of Spanish Speaking World Mini Unit

It is pretty awesome to not have any focus on certain sets of vocabulary or grammar and to just teach Spanish with culture at the core. This class has shown be that ANY language class could ultimately be set up like this, but with a better planning of targeted high frequency vocabulary. Overall my goals for this class are to help struggling students be better prepared for Spanish II, while meeting the following essential standards related to both culture and communication in Spanish.

Have you ever done a class like this? What did you include?


  1. Hey Allison! Love the idea of this class! Thank you for sharing... I might "steal" some of your ideas for my Spanish 1 (or other leves) classes.

    The movie Canela might be a great fit for your gastronomía unit. I know that you already have some things for that movie, but Elena López and I created a fantastic slideshow to discuss what happens before watching different segments (provides TONS of CI!) - see here Students really liked the movie.

    1. Thank you so much Kara! I know Canela would have been perfect for this class, but we already watched it using your awesome new resources in their Spanish 1 class. If I ever get to teach it again, Canela will be a part for sure!

  2. Hi Allison,
    So I teach all levels at my school and am restructuring my 7th/8th grade semester long class so that students can take it any semester whether they have been in the class before or not and learn something different each time. So I was thinking of adopting your idea of mini culture units and flip-flopping the ones I do each semester. From your experience doing it, do you think this would be doable with novice learners who have never had Spanish before? Thanks for the help!

    1. Hi Tana!
      I think that would be a really good idea! You would probably need to do some pre teaching of basic vocab each semester and keep it with very simple language to make sure it is comprehensible. Let me know if you would like more help planning!

    2. I was thinking the same thing with the pre-teaching and keeping it simple. I would LOVE more help/advice/insight with planning. My plan is to do 4 - 4.5 week units per semester, but I need enough for 4 semesters (2 years) because students can take it as 7th or 8th graders, so a 7th grader starting at semester 1 their 7th grade year could essentially take it all 4 semesters of 7th and 8th grade and learn something new or pop in again as an 8th grader and not learn the same thing that they did in 7th grade. If that makes sense. So I am thinking I need 16 mini units (this year I would need 8), and I want certain ones to fall around the time that the holiday or festival or what not actually happens. I am 4.5 weeks into semester one already so going to be switching soon to this new layout because I started off with a different plan and I am not happy with it. So my next step is to pick/decide on the cultural topics/units I could do, and preferably not have to create them all from scratch! Any feedback or thoughts on that would be great! Does it sound like a good plan for what I am working with?

    3. That sounds like a great idea! I would start with a day of the dead unit for sure. Martina's plans would be a good starting point. I just posted a muertos para empezar which could be simplified to very basic too.
      For November, pick a topic that you are passionate about or a place you have been to make it easy on yourself.
      For December I would do holidays, once again starting with Martina. If you want to stay away from cmas you could do New Years traditions & Reyes Magos.
      Email me if you want to brainstorm more! :)

  3. P.S. the students then eventually feed into my Spanish 1 so I don't want things to be repetitive for them when they come into high school.


Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top