My Cultura y Civilización course (a Spanish 4/5 class) just started a unit titled “Perspectivas de la Belleza” (Perspectives of Beauty). The main resource for the unit is Kristy Placido’s book Frida Kahlo (and the amazing Teacher’s Guide). Before I start a novel with a class, I like to try to hook the students with some resources related to the novel and/or the theme of the unit.  But before doing that, I introduce the Essential Questions and explain what the evaluations will be for the unit. The Essential Questions and the Evaluations are on here on the first page of the unit packet.

(English translations are provided for the benefit of non-Spanish speaking blog readers. Students are provided with target language only.)

Preguntas Esenciales / Essential Questions (UbD):

  1. ¿Cómo se define la belleza? How is beauty defined?
  2. ¿Cómo se establecen las percepciones de la belleza y la creatividad? How are perceptions of beauty and creativity established or created?
  3. ¿Cómo el arte refleja la identidad y la época de un artista? How does art reflect the identity and the time of an artist?
  4. ¿Cómo las artes desafían y reflejan las perspectivas personales y culturales? How do the arts challenge and reflect personal and cultural perspectives?

Evaluaciones / Assessments:

  • Evaluación Escrita y Oral: Una presentación sobre una artista del mundo hispanohablante Written and Oral Assessment: A presentation on a nartist from the Spanish-speaking world
  • Evaluación Oral: Describe un evento importante en la vida de Frida Kahlo y compáralo con un evento de tu vida o en la vida de otra persona (famosa o no). Oral Assessment: Describe an important event in the life of Frida Kahlo and compare it to an event in the life of another person (famous or not).
  • Evaluación Escrita: Contesta todas las preguntas esenciales con detalles de todos los recursos que vimos en la unidad. Written assessment: Answer all of the Essential Questions with details from all of the resources we used in the unit.

So, the “hooks”… the first thing we did was a poll (using poll everywhere), in which students had to write 3-5 things and/or people that they think are beautiful. I had the poll projected so that we could all see everyone’s responses. I plan on doing this at the end of the unit as well. It will be interesting to see how their answers change!

The next thing we did was the song “Mantra” by Pamela Rodríguez. I used this song when I taught AP Spanish a couple of years ago to address the Beauty and Aesthetics theme. The basic message of the song is found in the chorus: “No necesito ser perfecta para sentirme extraordinaria” (I don’t need to be perfect to feel extraordinary). I found it on Zambombazo. We reviewed some important vocabulary, listened to the song, did a cloze activity, watched and/or read an interview with the singer, watched the video, illustrated the song, and, of course, sang the song (I have a fantastically enthusiastic group of singers this semester). The video is strange and definitely engaging. The activities are on page p. 4-7 of the unit packet. We will sing this song everyday for 5-7 days and then move on to the song “De otro planeta” by Esteman (another gem from Zambombazo). That song also addresses perspectivas de la belleza.

I realized that students have never heard of Frida Kahlo, so their homework for the second night of the unit is to look the Frida Kahlo products here, here and/or here. Write down which one you would buy (if you were to buy a Frida Kahlo product). This will help them see how popular Frida Kahlo is and, hopefully, it will make them want to learn more about her!

Another thing to teach them a little bit about Frida Kahlo is the video below titled “Zamba: Excursión al Museo de Bellas Artes – Frida Kahlo”. It is a video made for children and I thought students would be able to interpret some of it after watching a few times. First I gave them some related vocabulary:

  • un museo – un lugar en donde hay muchas obras de arte
  • un cuadro – una pintura de algo o alguien; un retrato; una foto; una obra de arte
  • un retrato – una pintura de una persona; un cuadro de una persona; una obra de arte
  • un autorretrato – (no es un dibujo de un auto) es un retrato de una persona hecho por ella misma
  • lindo/linda- bonito; hermoso; bello
  • una pintora – una mujer que pinta
  • una pintura – una obra de arte; algo pintado
  • pintar – to paint
  • grandote – muy grande
  • un “camescritorio” – una combinación de una cama y un escritorio, donde pintaba Frida
  • sola – sin otras personas
  • un mono – un animal que vive en la selva; Frida tenía dos que se llamaban Fulang Chang (un regalo de su esposo, el famoso artista Diego Rivera) y Caimito de Guayabal
  • un loro – un ave que muchas personas tienen como mascota
  • el marido – el esposo
  • el machismo – el orgullo masculino fuerte y agresivo
  • débiles – sin mucha fuerza; no fuerte

Next, they watched the video three times. During the first time, they had to write down things that they saw, then they had to write down things that they heard, then they had to write down facts that they learned from the video, and finally, they had to read some statements and determine if they are cierto or falso (see pages 8-9 of the unit packet). After doing those activities, and sharing with a partner and the class after each viewing, students had to respond to this prompt:

En el video Frida dice:

“Me gusta pintarme fea para protestar contra el machismo de mi época. No me gusta que a las mujeres se las admire solo por su belleza y que se las crea débiles.”

Translation: I like to paint myself as ugly to protest the sexism of my time. I don’t like it that women are only admired for their beauty and that they are believe to be weak.

¿Qué opinas de esta cita? ¿Es normal para una mujer famosa decir algo así? ¿Puedes pensar en otro artista (actor/actriz/cantante/celebridad) que ha hecho algo similar con su arte? What do you think of this quote? Is it normal for a famous woman to talk like that? Can you think of another artist/actor/singer/celebrity who has done something similar with her art?

This video is a fantastic introduction to Frida Kahlo. Students saw some of her autorretratos (self-portraits); they saw that she was in bed and did a lot of paintings there; and they saw that she had a love of animals.

Another interesting thing for students is that the video is from Argentina, so they get a little bit of exposure to that beautiful Argentine accent!

Link to video

We will start the novel tomorrow and I am hoping that they are now “hooked” and ready to learn about Frida Kahlo and delve into perspectives of beauty.

Kara Jacobs is a high school Spanish teacher in New Hampshire. She has been teaching since 1999 and, like many, she has changed her teaching practices tremendously during the past six to eight years. She loves using TPRS novels, authentic resources and lots of music to engage and educate her students!


1 Comment
  • Shelly Hugghins
    Posted at 12:07h, 02 March

    What a fabulous post!! My Spanish IV class is all female, and they are wanting to read Frida Kahlo by Kristy Placido after we read Noche de Oro. I am so excited that you shared these resources since this will be our first foray into the art world and this topic.

    I have found that using TPRS novels written by the fantastic language educators who share their talents has really renewed my excitement for teaching Spanish. The excitement and engagement I see with my students is very rewarding.

    Thank you again for sharing your hooks for this novel, and thank you to all language educators who write novels, share resources, and encourage each of us to be better ambassadors for the languages we teach every day.

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