20 July 2011

If I do teach Cortázar

First of all, if I do teach Cortázar, it would almost certainly be limited to Spanish 3. Secondly, if I do teach Cortázar, I would probably not teach the story I was assigned for my grad class: I'd so much rather sink my teeth into my favorite story by Sr. Julio: "Axolotl." That or do like la profesora said she does with her composition classes and have students explore one of his instrucciones pieces and then make their own wacky instructions.

However, I was assigned to present "Casa tomada," and so I shall. I have assembled various resources, in a glog, of course, including the following:

  • a link to the full text
  • a YouTube introduction to the author from an 1970's interview
  • a translated mini-bio (with a link to the original source)
  • a brief list of some of his major works
  • a quote from Borges about him
  • a map of the house that is tomada (with the source link, of course)
  • quotes that show why the characters' "matrimonio de hermanos" is creepy
  • a couple of quotes & schedule of their lives "sin pensar"
  • an artsy video with Cortázar narrating
  • a link to a video (Glogster & YouTube need to work out some copyright stuff, I think) that appears to be some college kids' interpretations of what really happened in the story
  • an interview with Cortázar about what the story's really about
  • a scrambled list of household-related vocabulary from the story, in document form
Now, I'm thinking that I would probably actually present all of this before I had students read the story, maybe even have students poke around on it flipped classroom style?  Maybe they could write me something they know about Cortázar and/or an outline of what they think happens in the whole story. Perhaps they would re-construct the story in pairs before the reading.

But even before pre-reading strategies, I think I would want to frame the story in a larger unit, probably returning to dictatorships. I think the essential question would be "Why do people allow dictators to take over?" So even before getting to this story, I would delve into (hopefully) some primary sources, or at least some articles and/or videos about Perón's reign. This might require a whole other glog...

In the interview I put on the first glog, of course Cortázar reveals the story is really just a dream he had, plus the siblings. However, he also says that the dream very well could have been a product of fears related to the dictatorship. As such, I think it offers a very useful analogy for the way dictators assume power, paso a paso, kind of like Niemoller said: "First they came for the socialists..."

Right before reading (after the glog responding), I'd have students group the household vocabulary: you know, semantic mapping. I'm tempted to let them play with the vocabulary out of context, collage-style, though I suspect my PLN would frown on it.

As for during reading, I'd almost certainly have to "gloss" the story. They say not to change the text, just the task, but I'm not sure if glossaries count as changing the text. Still, since this is all hypothetical, it's glossed. I think we would read as a class or in partners. And we'd read the story in pieces, and do a reflection activity for each:
  1. Description of the siblings / portrait of Irene & narrator (labeled?)
  2. Description of the house / "blueprint"
  3. Creepiness begins / recording with sound effects
  4. Things get normal(ish) again / perhaps a re-telling with a blue-print and Barbies...
  5. Creepiness wins / story from creepiness' perspective (what is it? individual interpretations)
Then, of course, they'd put everything (worthy) together in a glog for their e-portfolios.

You know, I may not ever teach "Casa tomada," but I think I may use this unit structure somehow in the future:
  1. Essential question
  2. Background videos/articles
  3. Story background
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Story + reflection activities
  6. Glog

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