Staying in the groove!

Back in the day, before I was a Spanish teacher, I was a musician.  I sang in madrigals and show choir, I played several instruments (though not particularly well), but I loved piano.  For the first year or so of playing piano, I had to walk across town to our church to have one to play because we didn’t have one at home.  I enjoyed it so much that I considered it as a major, but then I realized that I wasn’t deeply passionate enough about it to make the sacrifices that that life would require.  Oh, and killer stage fright.  THAT will do you in in that field too.

Though I’ve left music behind as a daily pursuit, I still surround myself with it nearly constantly.  I play it in my classes while students are working, and try to vary what types they will hear over the course of the year.  I also incorporate songs into nearly every unit that we study in some form or another.  Zachary Jones and Sra. Birch have made this endeavor SO much easier with their activities and databases of artists’ work to use.

Which brings us to this week:  the week before finals.  Here in the southeastern part of the US, we are in a sweet zone where the sun is out, the pools are open, the bugs are really out, and the humidity hasn’t arrived yet.  Not exactly a prime environment for focus, motivation, and ambition in our last days of school–for the students or for the teachers!

In my novice class, we need to review/practice some key concepts more, like telling what happened in the past and stating/supporting opinions.  I also want them to read some more in the target language and interpret the main ideas and key details from what they have read.  I also want them engaged in class without having to be a babysitter in these last days!

From all of this is born a mini project about well-known musical artists who sing in Spanish. After introducing them to my favorite, Juanes, and modeling a presentation for them, students chose an artist to study from a list compiled with help from my twitter peeps, or they could suggest one that they already knew.  Next, they will construct a poster with a basic timeline of key events of the artist’s career and life, a picture, and other pertinent details by using Wikipedia in Spanish.  They are also being asked to listen to several songs by the artist and to comment on their opinion of the music.  On presentation day, students will play their favorite musical clip as they present their posters in small groups.  They will also be prepared to answer questions from their group members about their artists.

Their reaction was priceless!  I had to hold them back when it was time to sign up for their artists, and they were instantly engaged in the research.  Some students asked for recommendations based on their personal tastes, and for the most part I think we were able to match them with someone that they liked.  They are actually engaged in trying to get preterit conjugations and preterit v. imperfect right because they have a reason to want to get it right.  Add in the cultural aspects and inquiry, and I think we have a winner!  They will work on their posters more tomorrow and present on Friday.  I’m actually looking forward to what they put together!


If you would like a copy of the student assignment sheet, click here.  Our artist list is below–feel free to suggest more in the comments!

  1. Juanes
  2. Shakira
  3. Calle 13
  4. Celia Cruz
  5. Juan Luis Guerra
  6. Aleks Syntek
  7. Marc Anthony
  8. Carlos Vives
  9. Café Tacuba
  10. La Santa Cecilia
  11. Draco Rosa
  12. Bruno Mars
  13. Laura Pausini
  14. Olga Tañón
  15. Alejandro Sanz
  16. Jarabe de Palo
  17. Peewee
  18. Pitbull
  19. Jesse y Joy
  20. Leslie Grace
  21. Carlos Baute
  22. David Bisbal
  23. Maná
  24. Aventura
  25. RBD
  26. Julieta Venegas
  27. Enrique Iglesias
  28. Ricky Martin
  29. Chino y Nacho
  30. Kany García
  31. Tego Calderón (similar to Daddy Yankee)
  32. Daddy Yankee
  33. Juan Cirerol
  34. Orishas
  35. Camila/Samo
  36. Rubén Blades
  37. Reik
  38. Sie7e
  39. Wisin y Yandel
  40. Diego Torres

2 thoughts on “Staying in the groove!

  1. I’ve been using music a lot with my middle schoolers this year! I would add Macaco to this list. He’s pretty great. Two of my favorites (files I made with lyrics) Mensajes del agua and Tengo.

    (I took a few liberties with the translation of “Tengo” to make it middle school appropriate… it’s such a great song, and the video is fantastic.)

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