After a brief description of protests, murders, and media censorship, their decision was made. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't proud of it.
At that point, I had only the barest understanding of what was going on in Venezuela, so I had some research to do myself. I searched YouTube for a video to summarize the problem and found "Venezuela en las Calles":
Now this video is technically beyond even my Spanish III kiddos, but the visuals provide a solid base to help even the Spanish II chicas in this mixed class interpret general ideas and start to understand what's happening. So I had students make four sections on their paper, and as they were able to pick out words from the video, they wrote the words in one of those sections according to what problem it fit. I originally had them use economía, estudiantes, violencia, derechos, but estudiantes was more relevant for the reading we followed up with, so I might change to these categories that a student found from El Nacional's Facebook page searching for relevant infographs if I did it again:
I divided the video into segments from 30-50 seconds in length, pausing to make sure students got at least one word for each. (I stopped at :31, 1:08, 1:47, 2:23, 3:10, and 3:52) When they couldn't hear any for a particular segment, I'd replay it. If they still struggled, I suggested collecting vocabulary from protest signs and words they could see. This stopgap seemed to help relax struggling students enough that they were able to hear words in the segments thereafter.
After individual segments, we would stop and share words they'd heard and explain where they put them and why. I confess, the discussion was not entirely in the target language, but the connections they were making were higher-order stuff, and it got them asking powerful questions. Plus the semantic grouping meant that they were able to recall some relevant words the next day when we searched for infographics to learn more.
After the whole video, I had students summarize what they understood to be the problems leading to the conflict in Venezuela (Spanish II wrote in English to demonstrate interpretation, but Spanish III wrote in Spanish). Then they asked one question about a related topic they'd like to explore and find out more about what is going on. It was uplifting to see questions about how this could happen, where it started, the extent of the violence, and the government's role. They definitely got their wheels turning about how this relates to their own lives and the world they live in.
So now, we're still going to do a talkshow for the language festival, but it will have guests like Presidente Maduro and protestors and commentary on censorship and violence.