Now they need a task while watching the movie. A character map worked perfectly this time for my classes. Furthermore, it connects to English Arts and my unit on describing people. In fact, Selena worked so well, I don’t think I’ll ever teach a unit based solely on family anymore. My students prefer not to talk about their less-than-perfect families, but were eager to talk about Selena’s family and drama. (Update: I’ve now replace the movie “Selena” with “No se aceptan devoluciones” or “La misma luna” since they are in Spanish.)

Before starting the movie, I ran to Rachel Rice, our English teacher, and asked, “How do I teach about the movie characters without doing a worksheet? How can I freshen it up? I don’t want to do guided notes.” She showed me these two sheets:


The sheet on the left is good, but a little “middle-school” looking. Oh, but the one on the right… Bingo! However, it is still a worksheet. It needs an artsy touch… I ran to the art room for paint, sponges and poster board. I found silhouettes of people that looked like the main characters of the movie. My student aide traced them on the white poster board using the projector.


In class, the students picked a character. They cut out the silhouette, put it on the black poster board and sponge painted around it. This took about 15 minutes.




I hung the posters around the room.


Selena, Father, Chris, Yolanda

Before the movie, I gave them the following cheat sheet with the major function words. I would like to redo this to make it “cooler” one day.


During the movie, I asked the students to write descriptions in Spanish of the characters on sticky notes. (What would I do without sticky notes?!) They could use dictionaries for specific words they needed. When we stopped each day, they put them on the correct character and took photos of them with their cell phones to have notes. Note: I never made this worth a grade and had full participation every day.



We found this to be a fun way to support English Arts AND our own language goals.

How can students describe characters in a creative way?