Teaching with the novel Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha Chapter 11, 12, 13

Chapter 11 was such a shocker! *Spoiler Alert* Take a moment to stop reading if you’re still in the “thinking about adopting” phase.

Analia tries to keep the narrator from getting revenge on the man who killed his brother and is killed as they try to escape. It was such a powerful scene that my class was anxious to work on their twitter wall. (See my first post )

It was a great way to introduce the Spanish phrase que en paz descanse. They used the hashtag #QEPD and recognized it when we looked at some tweets about the death of Amparo Baro, the actress that played Jacinta on El Internado Laguna Negra.

We read chapters 12 and 13 as a jigsaw reading. I have 4 groups in both of my Spanish 3 classes and the chapters broke up almost perfectly into 3 paragraph sections. Group one read the first three paragraphs of chapter 12, group two the next three, group 3 the first three chapters of chapter 13 and group 4 the last 4 chapters (they’re shorter so it isn’t more material… easier too!)

Each group was responsible for summarizing their section with 2 sentences per paragraph (a total of 6 except for group 4 who did 8… my group 4s were both strong students so it might be advantageous to choose a strong group for this section). They shared their summaries with the whole class after 20 minutes of reading time. To keep everyone accountable for listening to the whole two chapter summary, I told them we’d be having a short true or false quiz at the end. The quiz was easy and proved to be a great review of everything we had learned in the two chapters.

We are getting so close to the end!!! Tomorrow we are going to tackle 14 and 15!

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5 thoughts on “Teaching with the novel Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha Chapter 11, 12, 13

  1. Elizabeth Colon says:

    Carrie, this is great! I have been wanting to read Vida y Muerte with my Spanish 4’s since last year, but I only have one copy of the novel and we are not able to purchase any more books 😦
    I feel silly asking this question, but would you recommend reading a novel TO a class, since we only have one copy? I’ve never done it that way, but I know this story is something that will really get the interest of this particular group. (They’re constantly looking up news about drug cartels and gangs). My fear is that I will bore them or lose them as I read to them. Luckily, we have lots of technology (Promethean board and Chromebooks for the students).

  2. Suzanne Hines says:

    First of all, thank you for blogging. You have been a great help to me and my students. You have such good ideas, I am wondering what you did for the final assessment for the novel La Vida y Muerte. I am planning on using this novel next year.

    • Two things from the brand new TG that is about to be available! One was a speaking assessment with a tattoo theme and the other was a writing assessment drawing from 3 pieces of media!

  3. M G-D says:

    i do not like this book choice, surely there are more important things kids can learn about when learning Spanish – why give these thugs any time at all

    • The book is a look at what is WRONG with the thug life. I use it as the capstone of a look at how powerful one man’s voice can be (Romero), how poverty can fuel both war and immigration (El Salvador’s Civil War), and how deeply tied gang life and narcoviolence are! We look at what they look like from the outside as thugs but what they are on the inside and start to consider our own identities and where we may pretend to be someone we are not! It isn’t just about reading the book, it is getting deep into the AP theme of Personal and Public Identities and that historical tie of Romero to MLK…

      I get what you’re saying, they don’t deserve any kind of praise, but we don’t read it from that POV! We are looking at how wrong it is!

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