Final exam in Spanish 3 and 4

As a dual credit teacher I have to meet certain requirements for the community college where discrete grammar is still a focus point but in the upper level classes I am going to “reform” the final exam. We have been studying El Salvador in Spanish 3 and Argentina in Spanish 4. After film, novel, and culture study a “normal” exam feels anticlimactic. Does it really prove they can have and defend an opinion about these deep, meaningful cultural topics we have studied???

Enter my new idea. This semester in Spanish 4 we studied the Dirty War in Argentina and watched the film La historia oficial…. As a final, I am going to show the class the movie Cautiva during the last regular class period and the 20 minute study period they have during exam week. In the actual 90 min exam period we will watch the last 40 minutes and then they will write an essay during the last 50 minutes in which they use examples from what we’ve learned in class this semester to show whether they approve or disapprove of the way the protagonist in the movie was given to her biological family.

In Spanish 3 we did our film study of Voces inocentes and will begin a study of the Spanish civil war in quarter 4… I will show them Carol’s Journey (both films are about 12 year olds and set during a war) and ask them to make comparisons between Carol’s life and Chava’s.

If anyone has done this or has any advice about why I shouldn’t, I’d love feedback!

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas","Bananas", "Sostenible", and "Papálotl" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

5 thoughts

  1. Last year we did a comparison of Carol’s journey and Pan’s Labyrinth!! I’ll look at my materials and see if there is anything you might be able to use… I love the idea of Voces Inocententes used in this.

    How did your students do with the vos in La Historia Oficial? I haven’t used that one in a while…

    with love,,

    1. We do Butterfly and Pan’s Labyrinth in the 3/4th quarters so I am hoping Carol will be a good bridge to that from Voces.

      We had to watch the whole movie with Subtitles because not only is the Vos hard, the Spanish is just fast enough that it frustrates them. I wish that there was a better movie to stick in that spot…

      Looking forward to NTPRS… Ready for some dancing?

    1. I totally agree. I’m afraid they won’t be placated either. I am finishing a novel study in both levels and am giving a “community college style” assessment to hopefully cover what they need to see as far as discrete grammar and vocabulary points. I am hoping that the essay written graded with a rubric that addresses vocabulary choice, grammar, and writing style will make this a good choice for the final! 🙂 But I may be wrong!

Leave a Reply to senoracmt Cancel reply