Some of the more shocking moments for my Spanish 4 classes have come from our study of Narcotraffickers. Two consecutive years, mid study, El Chapo Guzmán was in the news for prison breaks and arrests! The Ayotzinapa kidnappings were also smack in the middle of our unit… it raised the question among my level 4s, where is the news coverage of this and why don’t the newscasters highlight the stats about who is buying the drugs!?
As 17 and 18 year olds, they haven’t had much experience with how media works and so finding out that this drug war is a result of US consumption and that the money and weapons are coming from the US to Mexico is a shock for them. I think it is important! Often we see only the “build a wall to keep the bad hombres out” side in our media.
Beginning with the National Geographic documentary, Narco Bling and building pieces around Kara Jacobs’s Narcoviolence unit, we look at the cause/effect relationship between US consumption of drugs and the heavy armament of the cartels.
Their final product, an infographic on a Genius Hour topic is an infographic that they will present “art gallery style” a’la Sharon Birch!
As you consider whether to tackle heavy units with your upper levels, be sure to temper them with the good as well! One of my favorite parts of this unit is a commercial Zachary Jones of Zambombazo shared about the reasons to believe in Mexico! While we want students to understand that things happen around the world that are glossed or ignored in our media coverage, we also don’t want them to come away with the impression that they are not safe nor that people have worse violence problems in other countries than we have here! It’s all relative!