Teaching La Llorona de Mazatlán

This past year Spanish III spent most of fourth quarter reading La Llorona de Mazatlán by Katie Baker. A large majority of what we did was from the amazing teachers guide by Carrie Toth. Some of the main cultural elements that can be expanded from this book are México, fútbol y leyendas. Since this particular class had spent a large amount of time on soccer the year before with a World Cup unit, we decided to focus more on legends instead. The supernatural legends fit nicely with our Friday watching of El Internado. If you are looking for soccer resources, check out all of these by Zachary Jones

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Introducing the novel

I happened to be sick the first day of the unit, so instead of starting like I had planned, students completed this La Llorona activity by Martina Bex. It was originally designed as an assessment, but worked great as a sub plan, where students read about the legend and answered questions. It gave students a good overview of one version of the legend, which could later be compared with the legend as shared in chapter 13 of the book. 

For introducing the novel and the first two chapters, I used a lot of Señorita Barragan’s ideas. This included using :30-1:10 of this video as a teaser. 

We also watched the trailer for the animated La Leyenda de La Llorona. The complete movie can be found on Netflix if you wanted to use it as a part of your unit. I gave it as an option, but they chose to watch El Internado instead. 

New ideas (2019)

During the novel

Since it was my first time teaching the novel I honestly did not come up with much on my own and used pretty much everything from the amazing teachers guide. One entertaining activity that was prompted by an idea in the guide was having students tweet about their most embarrassing moments (after the main character gets hit in the head by a soccer ball during her big audition in chapter 6). Instead of having a written feed on the wall, they logged into their Spanish Twitter accounts online and started tweeting! They not only had to tweet about their embarrassing moments, but searched out class hashtag to read and respond to their classmates. 
It was a fun way to end class with students interacting with each other in real time interpersonal writing in Spanish. I also suggested that other classes read through and respond to their funny moments as well. 
Embarrassing moment Twitter feed
Other resources for teaching La Llorona de Mazatlán

Assessing the novel

Presentational Writing – Students wrote a book review in Spanish describing what happened using examples, what they thought of the book and if they would recommend it. 
  • Most enjoyed the book, but wished there was more action and more to do with the legend of La Llorona. Many had interesting suggestions about which characters they would have liked to see more of and who they believed should have ended up together romantically. There is a lot of teenager dating drama, which many students could relate to. 
Interpersonal Speaking – In random pairs students came back to my desk and just talked about the novel, asking each other questions as if they were in a book club. Their goal was to dig deeper into the novel while performing at Intermediate-Mid proficiency. 
  • Those who had thought of questions in advance were obviously more prepared and successful at asking questions, but they still had to negotiate meaning and respond to unknown questions. I have also done this type of assessment where pairs or groups talk and I just circulate around the room listening. If time allows, pairs is definitely preferred. 
Have you taught this novel? What are some resources you can not live without?

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