UbD Bullfighting Unit

Something to share with my friends… I am trying to add some depth of discussion to Spanish four while maintaining heavy input in the language.  I don’t like to do shallow cultural units because I want the kids to have time to get invested in the topic.  I think they need to make it personal.  For the last 3 weeks we have been doing a unit on Bullfighting in Spain.  I tried to front load the unit so that when we got to the culminating project, they would have a lot of language and cultural knowledge to use as they expressed their opinions….  If you have other resources or suggestions, I’d love to hear them.  I feel like I learn more from you guys than any workshop I could attend!

Big Idea:  Students will use complex language and cultural information to defend their opinion of Bullfighting.

Key Questions:

What happens during a bullfight?  What is the current political climate in Spain with regards to bullfighting?  What are the names of some key Autonomous Communities of Spain?  Who are modern day bullfighters?  Who was Manolete?  What is PETA’s stance on bullfighting?

Activities and Assessments:

1.Cultural lesson about bullfights.  Students complete a note sheet as we speak (in Spanish) about the bullfight.  Students learn about the three parts of the fight, the participants, the fate of the bull, the festival of San Fermin in the Autonomous Community of Pais Vasco, the bullfighting ban in Cataluna, etc.

2. Manolete: Students read the Wikipedia biography of Manolete and use it to come up with a list of 7-10 facts about him and his life that we share as a class.  Master list is written on the board as students share their findings.  Students watch two short YouTube videos of Manolete’s fights in the 1940s.

3. Blood Brothers (60 minutes excerpt downloaded from YouTube).  Students watch the segment and discuss the brothers’ commitment to bullfighting in spite of their close calls.

4. Manolete bio: Students search for pictures of Manolete on the internet and create a biographical poster showcasing their knowledge of his life.

5. Reading Assessment: I copied and pasted from PETAlatino the organization’s stance on bullfighting.  I grouped students in 2’s and asked them to use decoding skills to read the authentic document for important information.  It didn’t matter what they COULDN’T read, I wanted them to tell me what they COULD read.  They listed the things they found out and then as a group we shared our answers.

6. Film Study: A Matador’s Mistress  Film is in English but discussion is in Spanish.  Students watch the biography of the life and death of Manolete.  Discussion of the ideas of foreshadowing and metaphor allow for some MAJOR critical thinking on their part.

7. Speaking Assessment:  Students call my GoogleVoice and leave a message sharing their favorite and least favorite parts of the film.

8. Writing Assessment:  Students write a persuasive essay in which they try to convince me that bullfighting is right or wrong.  Grading rubric is based on evidence of the vocabulary studied during the unit, knowledge of the parts of the bullfight, and ability to express themselves comprehensibly.

I had a great time with this unit and the kids loved it.  Several told me it was different than anything else we had done and that it was their favorite film study so far!


  1. This sounds great! i was wondering if you could share some of the sources you used to describe bullfighting? I was looking for something cultural from Spain other than war. I appreciate your willingness to share your ideas. I really need to get the book you suggested in Las Vegas about backwards planning. What was the name of it?

    • It is called Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. The workbook is great.

      I did a lot of online reading about Manolete and bullfighting. I got things from PetaLatino and several descriptions of bullfighting from Spanish sites. I let the kids use Wikipedia when they researched Manolete. It wasn’t any kind of a deep biography that they were writing about him! 🙂 I know, the English teachers would shiver!

  2. Thanks so much for your posts about UbD. My district has mandated that we all use it and we are even taking an online class collaboratively with our department. The big difference that I see is that the way CI teachers have talked about backward design was the preteaching of vocabulary, which is important, but the idea of enduring understandings and essential questions really elevates the thinking. You get that so well in your examples. I hope you will continue to post your units and ideas about UdB. I teach French, but I’ve been stumped about this online class, and reading your posts (even though the examples are in Spanish) have gotten me over the hump. Thanks so much!!!!!

    • I hopt that you find things from our workshop or from our blogs that will help you design your units! It is terrible to have to start over from square one! Hopefully you’ll get a nice skeleton for how to do it!

  3. Could you possibly share the guided notes that students take? I developed some last year but I’m still not satisfied with them :-/ It would be nice to have a comparison to see how I can improve mine.

  4. I love your unit! I was wondering if you showed the entire film A Matador’s Mistress and if the inappropriate parts were skipped or did you get parent permission?

    • Depends on the class. I ALWAYS cut the sex scenes but for more mature groups I have shown pretty much all… for the ones who lack maturity, I only show some fighting scenes.

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