En la Clase: Día de los Muertos, Chants, and the Cooperative Sentence Strip Paragraph

Dia de los Muertos | ELL and GLAD Strategies | Vamos a LeerThis week’s post will wrap up my En la Clase posts on Día de los Muertos.  The activities I’ll talk about today are great ones for the end of a unit, especially the Cooperative Sentence Strip Paragraph.  Just in time, our complementary guide with ELL and GLAD strategies for teaching about Día de los Muertos is now available online (just scroll down to the end of the activities, they’re right below our art activities).  We’ve gotten great feedback from teachers about the materials, so be sure to check them out.  Before we start talking about today’s activities, I want to make sure you saw Charla’s WWW post from Friday.  She highlights one of my favorite animated short films about Día de los Muertos.  It’s really beautiful.  It communicates so much in such a short amount of time and without a single word of dialogue! It’s perfect for classroom use.

Now, on to chants.  Chants are a fun way to engage students while encouraging language fluency and reinforcing important ideas, concepts, and vocabulary.  They can be adapted for any grade level and only take 10 or 15 minutes a day, maybe even less. Below I’ve shared the beginning of a chant our amazing graduate student bloggers Charla, Kalyn, and Alice created especially for Día de los Muertos. You can download the entire chant along with two others here. First, you’ll want to introduce the chant to students.  Read it out loud to them at least once.  Then have students practice saying it.  Depending on the length and difficulty of the chant, you may want to focus on 2 stanzas, then add on in subsequent days.  Once students are comfortable with the rhythm and language, you can highlight the concepts and vocabulary in the chant.  Discuss the various concepts and/or vocabulary to be sure students understand what they are saying in the chant.  Students may want to add movements.  I like to use the chants throughout the day.  They can be used while the specific unit is being taught, or they can be used at various transitional times such as before recess, lunch, or dismissal at the end of the day. Here’s the first part of our chant set to the tune of the Addams Family:

Día de los Muertos: Welcoming la Familia
To the tune of The Addams Family

Day of the Dead
Snap snap
Day of the Dead
Snap snap
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Snap snap

It’s Día de los Muertos,
Our doors are abiertos.
There’s altars for remembering
The loved ones who are lingering.

They follow the smell of flowers,
They visit after hours.

Amamos los ancestros,
They’re all our family.

Day of the Dead
Snap snap
Day of the Dead
Snap snap
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Snap snap

I’ll wrap up with one last strategy, the Cooperative Sentence Strip Paragraph.  Like many of the other strategies we’ve shared, this one can be adapted to any topic, not just Día de los Muertos.  It’s a great activity to use at the end of a unit to assess student learning.  In this activity, students work in small groups to create sentences, then work as  whole class to create a paragraph from those sentences.  This serves as both a review of content material and practice in both oral and written language fluency.

Estimated Time: 60 minutes

Materials: Large chart or butcher paper, large sentence strips, notebook paper, markers, magnets, tape

Procedure:

  1. Preparation: Create a topic sentence that encompasses the unit you are studying.  For a unit on Día de los Muertos, this could be something like “Día de los Muertos is an important celebration in Mexico and other parts of Latin America.” Or, “Día de los Muertos is a celebration that honors those who have passed away.”  Write the topic sentence on large butcher or chart paper.
  2. Read the topic sentence with students.
  3. Explain to students that they are going to work in small groups to create a sentence that would be relevant for a paragraph with the topic sentence you’ve provided.  In order to get students excited and engaged, a game-like quality is added to the assignment.  After discussing options among their group, the group will write their rough draft sentence on a piece of notebook paper.  When they have done this, they raise their hands for the teacher to check their sentence.  If there are any errors, factual or grammatical, the teacher guides them to these mistakes without correcting it for them.  Students must fix the sentence and then raise their hands to have it checked again.  If it is correct, students get the final copy sentence strip paper and re-write their sentence on it.  The key here is that no two groups can write the same sentence about the same supporting fact.  The goal is to finish as quickly as possible before someone else uses the same idea.  When the students have finished their final copy sentence, they put it on the large paper underneath the topic sentence using magnets so that they can be easily moved during the editing process.
  4. Once all groups have hung up their sentences, the class read through all the sentences together.  Guided by the teacher, the class discusses the best order to put the sentences in—is there a sentence that should clearly go directly after the topic sentence? Are there facts that should be grouped together? As the class makes these decisions, the teacher moves the sentences around, visually modeling how to edit a paragraph.
  5. When the paragraph is completely edited, the class reads it out loud together.
  6. This activity can be done multiple times in one unit depending upon how many different kinds of topic sentences can be created.  It can also be expanded upon asking each student or small group to create their own paragraph once the whole class activity has been modeled.

We hope you’ve found our posts on Día de los Muertos useful! We’d love to hear how you’re using any of these resources in your classrooms!

Until next week,

Katrina

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