Comprehensible Input, Identity,, Thematic Units

The Formation and Politics of Identity: Spanish Level 4 Unit by A.C. Quintero

Picture by E. Gómez, Barcelona

In an effort to give teachers a peek inside my classroom, I will be using this space to share resources, ideas, and lessons that have shaped by Identity unit for my level 4 classroom. This unit consists of a plethora of resources, both paid and free. Some of the resources were authored by me, while others are contributions other teacher authors. I am listing as I go, with the goal of distilling everything into implementable lesson plans (long-term goal). If you have tips in terms of organization, please email me, and I will try my best to organize the information so that it is accessible and useful to teachers. My units are broken down into phases. Each phase culminates with either a formative assessment or a summative one.

Phase 1: Let’s Get To Know Each Other

Task 1: Special Person Interviews 

I implement this unit the first week back to school. After doing “La máquina de tiempo” and Allison Wienhold’s Find someone who activity, we delve right into Special Person, or “La persona especial. 

This activity was developed by Bryce Hedstrom, and has been used by countless of world language teachers. In an identity unit at the beginning of the year, it is the perfect task to get students to find out about their classmates. The Special Person’s activity is guided by this free resource: Todo sobre mí.

How Do We Get From “Todo Sobre Mí” To Special Persons Interviews

#1 Model the type of response you want

I invite students to interview me, asking me those same questions as those listed on the activity Todo sobre mí. This will give students an opportunity to listen to my responses to the questions, vet the activity, and hopefully, determine that it is a safe and fun activity for them. Sharing things about themselves during the first week could be very daunting, but these questions are perfect for upper-level (they represent a mix, in my opinion) high schoolers.

1.  Students complete the Todo sobre mí activity 

2.  I review questions that’ll prompt the answers to the questions on the board. For example, students have to provide information on their favorite application. I’d ask students to write the question that would solicit that particular response.

3. Students then move into groups to converse about their preferences as detailed on the Todo sobre mí activity. This becomes the basis of our Persona especial

Where is the input? 

Since we watch El Internado, students would read about these famous actors from Spain. I got this resource from Martina. You can click on it here to be directed to her TPT store. It was a great way to discuss other people in the target language. I also created an additional one to add some diversity, and she is one of my favorite actresses on Spanish television.  You can click on that resource here!

Task 2: Interviewing students 

A la Bryce, 10 students are interviewed everyday until we are done interviewing. I only require students to take notes on 4 students a day. Click here for the organizing document.

Task 3: Assessing the students

Phase 2: What Is Identity?

The next phase of our unit, we start to explore identity. The core of this unit, is comprised of my identity resource packet. You can click here for details. This resource packet consists of 25 activities, including readings on the construction of identity. It includes reading comprehension questions, debates, and writing prompts. There are more abridged versions of this resource on TPT.

Task 1: ¡Soy yo!

Who doesn’t love this anthem about identity? I know that there are many great resources regarding how to Movie talk or Picture talk this song. This is the one that I use, and I very much enjoy it. Click here for the resource!

Since the band is from Bogotá, I play this video to give students a taste of what the city is like. You may find other helpful videos, to introduce student to Colombia!

1. Listen to the song, just to absorb the beat (see TPT packet for video on Youtube). 
.4. Go on to Quizlet and review the flashcards (10 minutes). Have them make observations of the tense (past tense). 
4. Reflection: Describe a time when you… Me caí, fracasé, me paré, te criticaron/ share out. 
5. Sing the song with your class!! We always try to conquer the fast melody, but fail every time. It creates laughter and community.

Task 2: Taking A Deeper Dive

We view this video that is inextricably related to adolescents and identity. The video can be accessed on by clicking the link here. The materials that I have created for the video are free on TPT. Click on this link to see how I introduce the theme.

What does teaching this video look like in my class?

1. Students complete the preliminary questions prior to watching the video. These questions are on identity. For example, students are asked to offer a definition of what is identity, and then, who determines your identity.

2. As students share out, I draw an identity concept map on the board. We list out elements such as culture, traditions, music, language, etc. I ask them to provide examples, to get the conversation going.

3. We watch the video on Identity, which is in English, but has very few words offered by the protagonist. She walks around the school with a mask and is pretty mum the whole time.

4. After the video, I have them write down their reactions immediately. I have them share whatever they can about the video. I do this as a confidence builder. Then, I ask them questions about the video with language and vocabulary tied to certain parts. For instance, I asked why they thought the girl had on a mask, why was unique about her mask, who else was wearing a mask.

Side note: One student said he noticed that the teachers did not have masks on, and that he thought they should also wear them!

Frida Painting and Poem Comparison

A few years ago, I stumbled upon this poem, “La mujer del otro lado” by Sylvia Mejía. It is the perfect addition to an identity unit because it oozes with declarations and dichotomies about the nuances of identity.

We did this poem on the heels of our “Soy yo” song, so it was the perfect segue to exploring the theme even more. Here was the game plan:

  • We had students examine the Frida painting ” The Border”. I thought many of what was referenced in the poem about identity could be visually illustrated with this painting. It also reacquainted them with Frida as an artist, consummate example of strong identity (Our Frida unit with Kristy Plácido’s book is set for February). Students described all the elements in the pictures and discussed some of the elements related to identity as well.
  • They read the poem with this poem guide. Later, we compared and contrasted with the poem
  • After reading and discussing the painting and poem, we administered this formative assessment.


The rise of Yalitza from the cultural rich pueblo of Oaxaca, also piqued my interest this year. Since her debut in Roma, and EL Sol article last year published about her, I wanted to find a way to sneak her into the already jammed-packed curriculum; and I did! Below are a few activities, references to resources that made this mini-unit possible. Here was the game plan:

  • First, I wanted to make sure students had a change to become familiar with Oaxaca and all the rich things he had to offer. So we did this scavenger hunt. I supplied students with websites where they could access the information in Spanish. You can click here for this activity.
  • Internet Scavenger Hunt Activity
  • They also had this Quizlet set of vocabulary words. These words were extrapolated from the upcoming readings, and subsequent listening activities. Due to copyright, I cannot share the article from El Sol, but I encourage you to visit their website to see all the great offering they have for the CI classroom!
  • Following Quizlet, students worked on these contextualized sentences with the vocabulary. This particular activity gave them an opportunity to get a brief preview of these words in context. It also made their Quizlet work a bit more challenging.
  • Following the scavenger hunt, students had an opportunity to talk about what they researched. If we are following the input/output paradigm. They received their input from reading about landmarks, food, etc. The output was an outgrowth of that.
  • Listening: Students listened to this video. Instead of providing specific questions, I wanted to see what they had actually understood. They listened to the video and then responded to these questions. I was pleasantly surprised that most of them performed extremely well on this activity.
  • Students had this article to read. I had them only read the first two pages. We stopped where it said “Grabación de Roma.” The goal was to get them more acquainted with her life. Prior to reading we did this pre-vocabulary activity as well.


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