Repost from old blog: Global Challenges Unit – Esperanza


When I began teaching the Esperanza unit, my focus was on finding a way to make the Global Challenges theme tangible for the lower level. I loved using the novel Esperanza by Carol Gaab which is written for novice low level and then taking it up a level with supplemental materials that helped students visualize the many aspects mentioned in the novel and allowed for higher language levels. Even though the novel was for novice level, I did it in my level 2 class to help students acquire many of the high frequency words they had not acquired yet and supplemented with authentic resources.

I did this unit before being aware of the ACTFL Proficiency Levels and the Can Do Statements. This transition is a journey and sometimes we can tweak certain things in old units as they have many excellent components. I feel this unit had several things going for it: it was based on a big broad idea, I focused on tying this into students’ lives, the real world and their opinions, I worked to make this comprehensible and for students to show me what they could say about these issues at their language level.

So now, relating this to what I know about ACTFL Proficiency Levels, Can Do Statements and the new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for LOTE, how does this match up? How can I refocus this unit a bit with these in mind?

  1. I know that, according to the TEKS, in level 2 students are to be between Novice High to Intermediate Low. At this level they can communicate about familiar topics. Novice High speakers using phrases, simple sentences, sometimes supported by memorized language and Intermediate Low using simple sentences. I remind myself that for this unit I need to be sure to tie this unit into the students themselves and relate it to familiar topics a simplify the language as needed and provide support such as gestures, visuals, etc.
  2. For interpretive reading, a Novice High can understand familiar words, phrases and sentence related to everyday life and sometimes get the main idea, while Intermediate Low speakers can get the main idea of short and simple texts when the topic is familiar. I remind myself of this as I incorporate authentic texts into the unit and how my questioning helps me see what students can do with the language. Also to provide questioning that pushes students to the next language level.

When I do this unit again, I will be writing out some Can Do Statements to help focus the students on the language targets.

I have many posts about this novel. You can find them all here on my old blog as I will only be reposting the blogpost below pertaining to this unit.

Below is a repost on incorporating authentic videos to enrich the lesson on deep global challenges such as poverty and people living in the trash dump.

Repost: La Pobreza y El Basurero en Guatemala

It’s that time of the year again and I’m teaching the Global Challenges unit and using Esperanza novel as a way to get my students learning and talking about many of these deep themes.

I was able to purchase the Esperanza Teacher Guide this year and I am absolutely loving the readings on the issues such as La Guerra Civil, El Basurero, El Sindicato, La Huelga, etc. These allow us to keep these discussions on tough issues in Spanish and are a great model for how we as teachers can help guide discussions on serious issues in the TL by simplifying the language & questions.

As part of a pre-reading activity for Basurero reading in the Teacher Guide, I found this video below about niños pobres en el basurero that helped them visualize the reality. They watched it and answered these questions. There is also a good PowerPoint slide in the Teacher Guide showing pictures from el basurero and a blurb in basic Spanish.

Niños Pobres del Basurero

  1. ¿Qué es la triste realidad que habla el reportero del basurero?
  2. ¿Qué hace el primer niño en el basurero? Sí o no, ¿él quiere un juguete para Navidad? ¿Cuántos años tiene?
  3. ¿Qué quiere el segundo niño en el video? Sí o no, ¿el niño ha encontrado (has found) juguetes de carro? ¿Cuántos años tiene?
  4. ¿Cuántos hijos tiene la mamá en el video?¿Por qué las familias y los niños tienen que vivir en el basurero?
  5. En tu opinión, ¿Es una justicia o injusticia que ellos viven en el basurero? ¿Por qué?

After students watched this video and did the reading in the teacher guide, I showed the students this awesome documentary: Living On A Dollar. Some of my kids already had seen it because it is on Netflix. The kids really liked this documentary. You can buy a digital copy here and see clips here.

I had students write down 20 things they learned about La Pobreza y Guatemala while watching this documentary and respond to these essential questions:

  1. ¿A qué problemas sociales se enfrenta Guatemala? (What social problems face Guatemala?)
  2. ¿Cuáles son los orígenes de estos problemas? ¿Cómo pueden solucionarse? (What are the origins of these problems? How can we solve them?)
  3. ¿Qué derechos y deberes debe tener un guatemalteco como ciudadano? (What rights and duties should a Guatemalan have as a citizen?)
  4. ¿Qué derechos y deberes tiene el gobierno de Guatemala con respeto a la pobreza? (What right and duties does the government of Guatemala have in regards to poverty?)
  5. How can individuals help people living on $1 a day? How can YOU help? Brainstorm some ideas.

Cover photo of little girl at Guatemala city dump.



  1. Hello, Profe Hanson. I’m finishing Esperanza and I loved it -and I just discovered your old blog. I read there that you made a final assessment. Could you share it with me or let me know where I can purchase it? Thanks! Kate


    • Hi Kate! So sorry for this huge delay. I didn’t see this from a while back. I don’t have access to the assessment that I did and can’t remember honestly what I did. Sorry I can’t be of more help!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s