Identity,, Remote Learning World Language, Spanish class

Fridalicious: Spanish Mini-unit On The Art and Life of Frida Kahlo

(Jump to the bottom of the page to see the second installment)

I will use this space to share my approach to our Frida unit during remote learning. I will update this blog with activities every week until the unit has concluded. To get these updates, you can follow this blog, or follow me on social media!

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Since teaching remotely, I have had to really hone my creative skills much like the rest of you. Finding ways to engage students, making learning meaningful, not necessarily fun, but interesting has been my quest for these last few weeks; and I might have figured some valuable lessons with this unit. My colleagues and I pulled teamed up to make this unit happen, and it has been nothing short of amazing. We curated, created and collaborated fiercely in order to make learning about Frida fortuitous and enduring. I will be sharing some of the activities related to this project.

In terms of my colleagues work on this project, I will only share the public websites and domains used, not the actually activities that they have developed. However, I am free to share my contributions to the unit and my take on some of the work we mastered, so please enjoy!

¡Hola, Guapa!

One of my favorite activities to do is to prime students for new concepts. This involves accessing and collectively building prior and/or active knowledge together; this in turns eases the cognitive burden and frees up space to accommodate those new nuggets of knowledge. To prime students for our remote learning Frida unit, first, I gauged their opinions on the world of art. Students were tasked to think about the nature of art including but not excluding the following prompts: What is art? Can all forms of expression be categorized as art? Is graffiti art? You can download this free starter activity here.

Las citas fridianas

The second wave of engagement was actually reading quotes from Frida’s life (which is also included in this free resource). Included in the resource above are famous quotes spoken by Frida during her lifetime. We analyzed, discussed, and reflected about her about her philosophy of life. They also commented on which quote resonated with them. Extension activity?

Virtual Tour of La Casa Azul

My stellar colleague unearthed this free virtual tour of La Casa Azul. It was the perfect prelude to our unit. The 3D tour allows us to peer in every corner of the Frida museum. Now, students have an opportunity to see how this vivacious, colorful, and pioneering artist lived. We gave students 20 minutes to explore the house on their own and write & record their impressions in Spanish. Click here to for the tour!

El arte sin límites

Arte sin límites, is a short text that I wrote about Frida years ago, and never had the will to finish it. However, when we could not use the Frida books for remote learning, I quickly dug it up, added some research from from the plethora of my Frida collection, sent it my friend and collaborator in Spain, and viola! We used it in my classroom. The goal of this text is to give students a fuller view of Frida, her life and artwork. The text is about 4 pages, and highlights the basics of her life and artwork. This paid resource is the extension of the free resource above and includes with comprehension questions and an art analysis activity. I supplemented the reading with two clips of Frida’s life from Youtube. I wanted to give students an aerial view of her accident and how crippling it was to her person, but at the same time how this awful event transformed her into one of the most pioneering artists of her time incapable of being pigeon-hold and steadying blazing new trails paved with authenticity and cultural homage.

These resources, clips, and quotes prepared us for the next step in the journey, sponsored by Vogue, the Las apariencias engañan Exhibit. Another great find from my colleague! I will discuss how I used this in my class and a mini-project that I am conjuring up to rematarlo!

Las apariencias engañan: Los vestidos de Frida is our next stop on the Fridalicous tour.

This striking exhibit whose themes are Disability and ethnicity invites viewers into to contemplate the intricate wardrobe of Frida Kahlo. She was an artistic enigma in and of herself. Some of the enduring lessons for my students were the semiotic meanings imbued in their clothing and how her wardrobe was carefully suited to mask her disability.  Below the recap, you can find some of the activities that I did in class. 

Start Class With A Bang!

The Wounded Table

The week prior (see the information above this post), we started talking about Frida, using her quotes, reading about her life, and this week it was all about delving more deeply into her paintings, and using authentic resources, like the Las apariencias engañan Exhibit, to showcase her in her fullest glory. But, before we landed in the virtual wardrobe museum we did a little recon on our fav artist.

I used this painting of  “The Wounded Table”as a bell-ringer. I had students observe the painting and list all the elements they observed. I gave them a few minutes to think about it and maybe even look up word they had forgotten how to say.  Initiated this task with this question: ¿Cuáles son los elementos que te llaman la atención en esta pintura? Students used the starter phrase, “Yo veo” and continued to list off those bold features that stood out. Asking then them to only list what they observed, relieved the pressure of having to conjure up answers for this dynamic and multi-thematic piece. I gave them an access pass, invite them in, and to require little in the beginning and then build up.   Below is a compilation of some of the elements they noticed right away: 

  1. Frida está en el centro
  2. Hay niños
  3. Sus manos no son sus manos
  4. Hay un esqueleto
  5. Vemos que hay partes de la naturaleza
  6. La pintura está un poco oscura/ no brillante
  7. Hay sangre
  8. El telón corrido
  9. Hay un venado 

Naturally, since we read this article about Frida and previously analyzed her paintings, many students started to see a pattern emerge. I then asked then to make sense of those elements, what could they possible mean. I started first with Frida being in the middle and part of the artistic universe she so vividly paints. I told them that they could use what they knew about her to attempt to make connections. 

After hearing them, I asked them probing questions. For example, when on student said “hay niños” I asked, what could this mean? Another student chimed in saying that Frida couldn’t have niños, so maybe those are the kids she wanted to have. Another student also shared that she used to read to the kids in the neighborhood, so maybe it could be those kids. I then offered that the children could also be a dream that was never fulfilled as they are not central to the painting as other elements such as the skeleton. This gave them a boost, and they started feeling more comfortable (I took about 20 minutes before class to look at the painting myself and make notes).

Then,  I went through their responses one by one adding to the symbolic meaning they’d mention. We had a discussion in which they linked the previous events they had learned about with her life. The interpretation is below (excuse any errors as my Spanish is not perfect). 

  1. Frida está en el centro del cuadro. Ella es el enfoque central. Es un autoretrato con los elementos oníricos (they learned this word!) que siempre son presentes en su vida. Ella les da visibilidad.
  2. Los niños pueden significar la inocencia o falta de ella. También, por la mirada que tienen, pueden representar la curiosidad. Están al lado de la mesa, lo cual sugiere una distancia de Frida y lejos de las cosas que amenazan su vida.  De pronto, están a salvo de la muerte que la rodea. 
  3. El venado representa la vulnerabilidad. Ya hemos visto el venado como motivo en otra pintura.  
  4. El esqueleto representa la muerte y cómo siempre se le acecha. Ella vive con la muerte y no la teme. La acepta como parte de su mundo. Baila con ella. Partes de su cuerpo se funden con otras entidades. Esta parte se le atribuye a que su propio cuerpo tiene fusiones metales. 
  5. La naturaleza el verdor del campo, pero está consumido por el panorama gris. Prefiere las nubes y no hay sol. 
  6. La sangre representa la vida. 
  7. El telón corrido de modo que se puede ver todo, es sinónimo cómo nuestras vidas pueden ser producto del consumo público (on display). 

There are so many more rich elements that can be extrapolated, but this activity’s purpose was to empower students in thinking about how they could, based on their present knowledge, understand a little bit about Frida. 

Video of Frida 

This video served as a good introduction to the exhibit referred to at the bottom.  I had students watch and share one thing that they learned. They could share in Spanish or in English.

The exhibit, as one could imagine, is very extensive. We had students look at the first six pictures, read and then respond to questions.

We had students read about 5-6 of the slides from the exhibit and respond to the questions below.

  1. How did Frida’s choice of clothing suit her physical condition? 
  2. How did Frida use her clothing to make a statement? What was the declaration that those clothes articulated? 
  3. Discuss the diversity of her wardrobe.  
  4. How is her wardrobe different from yours? 

Extension activity

Have students take a picture of their wardrobe, or 3- 4 outfits and accessories and discuss their preferences, and why they choose to dress a certain way. 

Check out the website here!

Next week, I will share out Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe Comparison activity.

Comprehensible Input, Identity,, Thematic Units

The Formation and Politics of Identity: Spanish Level 4 Unit by A.C. Quintero

Picture by E. Gómez, Barcelona

In an effort to give teachers a peek inside my classroom, I will be using this space to share resources, ideas, and lessons that have shaped by Identity unit for my level 4 classroom. This unit consists of a plethora of resources, both paid and free. Some of the resources were authored by me, while others are contributions other teacher authors. I am listing as I go, with the goal of distilling everything into implementable lesson plans (long-term goal). If you have tips in terms of organization, please email me, and I will try my best to organize the information so that it is accessible and useful to teachers. My units are broken down into phases. Each phase culminates with either a formative assessment or a summative one.

Phase 1: Let’s Get To Know Each Other

Task 1: Special Person Interviews 

I implement this unit the first week back to school. After doing “La máquina de tiempo” and Allison Wienhold’s Find someone who activity, we delve right into Special Person, or “La persona especial. 

This activity was developed by Bryce Hedstrom, and has been used by countless of world language teachers. In an identity unit at the beginning of the year, it is the perfect task to get students to find out about their classmates. The Special Person’s activity is guided by this free resource: Todo sobre mí.

How Do We Get From “Todo Sobre Mí” To Special Persons Interviews

#1 Model the type of response you want

I invite students to interview me, asking me those same questions as those listed on the activity Todo sobre mí. This will give students an opportunity to listen to my responses to the questions, vet the activity, and hopefully, determine that it is a safe and fun activity for them. Sharing things about themselves during the first week could be very daunting, but these questions are perfect for upper-level (they represent a mix, in my opinion) high schoolers.

1.  Students complete the Todo sobre mí activity 

2.  I review questions that’ll prompt the answers to the questions on the board. For example, students have to provide information on their favorite application. I’d ask students to write the question that would solicit that particular response.

3. Students then move into groups to converse about their preferences as detailed on the Todo sobre mí activity. This becomes the basis of our Persona especial

Where is the input? 

Since we watch El Internado, students would read about these famous actors from Spain. I got this resource from Martina. You can click on it here to be directed to her TPT store. It was a great way to discuss other people in the target language. I also created an additional one to add some diversity, and she is one of my favorite actresses on Spanish television.  You can click on that resource here!

Task 2: Interviewing students 

A la Bryce, 10 students are interviewed everyday until we are done interviewing. I only require students to take notes on 4 students a day. Click here for the organizing document.

Task 3: Assessing the students

Phase 2: What Is Identity?

The next phase of our unit, we start to explore identity. The core of this unit, is comprised of my identity resource packet. You can click here for details. This resource packet consists of 25 activities, including readings on the construction of identity. It includes reading comprehension questions, debates, and writing prompts. There are more abridged versions of this resource on TPT.

Task 1: ¡Soy yo!

Who doesn’t love this anthem about identity? I know that there are many great resources regarding how to Movie talk or Picture talk this song. This is the one that I use, and I very much enjoy it. Click here for the resource!

Since the band is from Bogotá, I play this video to give students a taste of what the city is like. You may find other helpful videos, to introduce student to Colombia!

1. Listen to the song, just to absorb the beat (see TPT packet for video on Youtube). 
.4. Go on to Quizlet and review the flashcards (10 minutes). Have them make observations of the tense (past tense). 
4. Reflection: Describe a time when you… Me caí, fracasé, me paré, te criticaron/ share out. 
5. Sing the song with your class!! We always try to conquer the fast melody, but fail every time. It creates laughter and community.

Task 2: Taking A Deeper Dive

We view this video that is inextricably related to adolescents and identity. The video can be accessed on by clicking the link here. The materials that I have created for the video are free on TPT. Click on this link to see how I introduce the theme.

What does teaching this video look like in my class?

1. Students complete the preliminary questions prior to watching the video. These questions are on identity. For example, students are asked to offer a definition of what is identity, and then, who determines your identity.

2. As students share out, I draw an identity concept map on the board. We list out elements such as culture, traditions, music, language, etc. I ask them to provide examples, to get the conversation going.

3. We watch the video on Identity, which is in English, but has very few words offered by the protagonist. She walks around the school with a mask and is pretty mum the whole time.

4. After the video, I have them write down their reactions immediately. I have them share whatever they can about the video. I do this as a confidence builder. Then, I ask them questions about the video with language and vocabulary tied to certain parts. For instance, I asked why they thought the girl had on a mask, why was unique about her mask, who else was wearing a mask.

Side note: One student said he noticed that the teachers did not have masks on, and that he thought they should also wear them!

Frida Painting and Poem Comparison

A few years ago, I stumbled upon this poem, “La mujer del otro lado” by Sylvia Mejía. It is the perfect addition to an identity unit because it oozes with declarations and dichotomies about the nuances of identity.

We did this poem on the heels of our “Soy yo” song, so it was the perfect segue to exploring the theme even more. Here was the game plan:

  • We had students examine the Frida painting ” The Border”. I thought many of what was referenced in the poem about identity could be visually illustrated with this painting. It also reacquainted them with Frida as an artist, consummate example of strong identity (Our Frida unit with Kristy Plácido’s book is set for February). Students described all the elements in the pictures and discussed some of the elements related to identity as well.
  • They read the poem with this poem guide. Later, we compared and contrasted with the poem
  • After reading and discussing the painting and poem, we administered this formative assessment.


The rise of Yalitza from the cultural rich pueblo of Oaxaca, also piqued my interest this year. Since her debut in Roma, and EL Sol article last year published about her, I wanted to find a way to sneak her into the already jammed-packed curriculum; and I did! Below are a few activities, references to resources that made this mini-unit possible. Here was the game plan:

  • First, I wanted to make sure students had a change to become familiar with Oaxaca and all the rich things he had to offer. So we did this scavenger hunt. I supplied students with websites where they could access the information in Spanish. You can click here for this activity.
  • Internet Scavenger Hunt Activity
  • They also had this Quizlet set of vocabulary words. These words were extrapolated from the upcoming readings, and subsequent listening activities. Due to copyright, I cannot share the article from El Sol, but I encourage you to visit their website to see all the great offering they have for the CI classroom!
  • Following Quizlet, students worked on these contextualized sentences with the vocabulary. This particular activity gave them an opportunity to get a brief preview of these words in context. It also made their Quizlet work a bit more challenging.
  • Following the scavenger hunt, students had an opportunity to talk about what they researched. If we are following the input/output paradigm. They received their input from reading about landmarks, food, etc. The output was an outgrowth of that.
  • Listening: Students listened to this video. Instead of providing specific questions, I wanted to see what they had actually understood. They listened to the video and then responded to these questions. I was pleasantly surprised that most of them performed extremely well on this activity.
  • Students had this article to read. I had them only read the first two pages. We stopped where it said “Grabación de Roma.” The goal was to get them more acquainted with her life. Prior to reading we did this pre-vocabulary activity as well.