In the Time of the Butterflies, part 1

This week we’ve been working on a mini-unit as a lead in to reading Felipe Alou from TPRS Publishing–one of my favorites from their collection.  Knowing that my students would need a fair amount of background knowledge to appreciate the setting, I decided to do some front loading through the film In the Time of the Butterflies starring Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, and Marc Anthony.  The film is in English–something I generally try to avoid–but it’s captivating enough that it pulls students in.  I’m using the unit in Spanish 2 and I have some very reluctant students in that group who have been difficult to motivate.  It’s my hope that this mini unit will engage them enough to be a stepping stone toward more challenging tasks while exposing them to culture and history that they might otherwise dismiss.  And so far… so good.

Here’s the outline of the mini-unit (90 minute blocks):

Day 1:  Students work on cultural background log (DR Culture log) after completing assessment from previous unit  (and while waiting for others to finish)

Day 2:

Day 3:

  • This Kahoot (in Spanish)
  • Watch ~ 45 minutes of film (stop when Minerva is removed from her jail cell)

Day 4:

  • Quizlet/Quizlet Live with this vocabulary
  • Watch rest of film
  • This Quizizz
  • Comprehensified background information reading (Las hermanas mirabal) on the Mirabal family (in Spanish)
    • Read, working together
    • Make timeline of key events in Spanish
    • Comprehension check questions (individually)
  • Happy weekend!

Many of the students have really enjoyed the film so far, and were asking for it to continue when I stopped it at the cliff hangers.  They loved recognizing Marc Anthony from Música Miércoles earlier in the year, and the issues of racism, discrimination, and having a voice in society have been resonating with them.  Some of the background information will be rolled in to assessments more directly dealing with Felipe Alou.  I’ll add in another reading assessment based on an infographic about the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, which has been designated to coincide with the anniversary of the Mariposa’s assassination.

All in all, the “spending” of my English minutes on this film has been worth it with this group of students… and that has reminded me again that the “best practice” is the one that sparks the interests of the students.  We’ll kick our Spanish minutes back up next week, but for these students in this class this week… this has been a good fit.

9 thoughts on “In the Time of the Butterflies, part 1

  1. Briana Livingston says:

    I have used this movie for two years now, and the students love it. I, too, was really hesitant about giving up so much time to an English film. This year, however, I stopped the film a lot to talk about what was happening in Spanish, and then I wrote up summaries in Spanish for each of the four sections. I felt like it made better use of the time and made the film more of a source for CI. Here is the link to a Google drive file with the readings: There are some questions incorporated, some of which I pulled from other sources. I will try to identify the sources and give credit on the docs.

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