Los juegos olímpicos y la identidad nacional- A brainstorm for AP

Disclaimer: I really have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ve never taught AP before. (To be honest, I’ve been dodging the AP bullet for the past 13 years and finally it caught up to me….Monday morning I’ll finally have to teach it!) I’m fresh out of AP Summer Institute and I spent way to much time working on my first weeks’ plans to keep them to myself. I *think* this is good stuff and I’m pretty excited about it…but if you know more about AP than I do (so, most everyone), I’d love to hear your suggestions and feedback and advice for teaching AP in general. Lord knows, I need all the help I can get! (And shout out to my dear friend and AP Extraordinaire Julie who has been so incredibly generous answering my hundreds of questions this summer…I’m afraid there will be zillions more coming your way this year! I will totally understand and not be surprised at all if you start charging me or block my number!)

I love the Olympics. I don’t care much about sports the rest of the time, but during the Olympics, I AM ALL IN. I follow the Olympics like it’s my job. And when I saw Mexico’s uniform during the Opening Ceremonies, the wheels started spinning.

How gorgeous are these uniforms!?!

Since I haven’t taught this yet, here’s a rough brainstorm of resources I plan to use…feel free to use/adapt what you can to use with your Little Darlings!

We’ll begin with this slideshow: Desfile de atletas which has two short articles (actually excerpts from longer ones) to give them some background info on the Opening Ceremonies and the Parade of Nations. For the first article, we’ll focus on the main idea and strategies for dealing with unfamiliar words. For the second, there are a few multiple choice questions, AP style, to give them a tiny probadita del examen. (It’s highly likely there’s imperfect Spanish in the questions I wrote…if you want to help I sister out, holler!)

Now for the fun stuff…we’ll look at some of the countries’ uniforms, and students will guess the country. We’ll discuss WHY they made those guesses and WHAT in their uniforms lead them to their guesses. Really we’re getting at the big question: ¿Cómo reflejan los trajes la identidad nacional de los atletas? which will eventually get us to ¿Cómo refleja la ropa la identidad?

Then we’ll dive into the story of Mexico’s team uniform with this video clip and this article Bordados oaxaqueños y telas dry-fit: el uniforme de la delegación mexicana en los Juegos Olímpicos. The we’ll explore los textiles Istmo de Tehuantepec.

Edit to add: Huge gracias to Maris Hawkins, who was working on an article for El mundo en tus manos (which is an awesome comprehensible newspaper for novices and intermediates that I love and purchase every year for my Little Darlings!)and found this article that ties together the Olympics, identity and clothing: Qué significan las pañoletas que lucían las dos medallistas olímpicas de Ecuador en Tokio. We’ll totally be reading, discussing and making comparisons with this next week!

Now my Little Darlings will dig a little deeper into a specific country…

A bunch of Japanese artists created an anime style Samurai Warrior to represent each nation competing in Tokyo’s Olympics and they’re just so cool! Here’s a video explaining the project, in Spanish: Artistas japoneses reimaginan países y sus banderas como personajes de anime para Tokio 2020 (Thanks, Alexandra Stewart for sharing the Anime Samurais on the AP Spanish Language and Culture Teachers Facebook page! I would never have found this on my own and I know my Little Darlings will get a kick out of this!)

Each kiddo will be assigned a country and they’ll check out their Samurai and read it’s backstory. The site is written originally in Japanese, but can be translated into Spanish or English. (In case you’re wondering, the American Samurai was born on July 4, loves watching American Football and eating hamburgers. And my favorite detail, he wears cowboy boots).

In small groups, the following class, they’ll introduce their country with some basic facts and their Samurai with this slideshow. Since I’ll have a mix of heritage students and Spanish language learners, I’ve included a script that they can use, if they want, just to get everyone started off on the right foot with confidence. After each group member presents, they’ll work together to compare and contrast the different Samurais in their group, using the fancy comparison words they’ll be using in their Cultural Comparison, which are listed on the script.

Finally, we’ll do our first practice Cultural Comparison: ¿Cómo refleja la ropa la identidad de una comunidad? Compara cómo la ropa refleja la identidad en una región hispanohablante que te sea familiar y en tu comunidad. En tu presentación, puedes referir a lo que has estudiado, vivido, observado, etc.

To scaffold this beast, and to really help them think about organization and strong transition words, they’ll use this Cultural Comparison Notetaker. My plan is for them to use this all first semester, then slowly wean them off it second semester. I’m pretty proud of this little notetaker…but of course, we haven’t used it yet in real life! I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions! Of course I’ll explain that they have lots of flexibility with this document…they don’t necessarily have to mention 2 similarities and 2 differences…they have the freedom to mix and match and make it work with the prompt.

If you’re digging the Samurai and want to do something else with them, here’s another resource, shared generously by Ángela Leyva Martínez. Her students will work collaboratively on this Google Slide Deck: Los juegos olímpicos y la identidad nacional, recording their first impressions and the symbolism they notice, then comparing and contrasting two Samurai. This will lead into a discussion about how other people perceive us, our cultures and traditions and stereotypes. I love it! ¡Gracias por compartir, Ángela!

So…that’s my general plan on how we’ll start out AP. But school starts tomorrow and there’s a good possibility that it will all fly out the window when we get rolling. Also likely that the day will end in tears and I might walk away from teaching and become the best barista you ever did see.

I’m nervous about teaching AP. I don’t like the idea of spending all year preparing for a single test. In fact, I hate tests. I’m worried about their scores and how it will reflect on me. I’m stressed about the prep time and the grading time (you know I hate grading with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, right?) But… as my grandmother used to say, “Like it or lump it, here it comes.” A new challenge will be good for me and I dearly love my students (who I’ve taught for the past two years). My fingers are crossed and I’m hoping for the best! I would so love to hear your words of wisdom, words of warning and words of encouragement.

My 4 year old niece loves to belt out, “Into the UNKNOOOOOOOOWNNNNNNN……” and this will be me Monday morning:


  1. Señora Chase, You are such an inspiration! I have been on medical sabbatical this past year and your blogs have helped me so much! Eres Súper Mujer! Espero que tengas un año escolar fenomenal y que todo vaya bien mañana. 😊😊😊 Gracias por todo, Lisa Vogus


    • Thank you!! I was all irritated spending all this time for one class, to use ONE year, so I thought I better share it so at least it can get more use and I’ll feel like the time investment was worth it!!


  2. ¡Guau! Sra. Chase, this is good! I will use it with my students. They may not be able to use it to the AP extend level, but the visuals will get them excited and I can see them eager to speak about this in Spanish. ¡Gracias por compartir!


  3. YOU CAN DO THIS!!! Chin up and be confident! Thanks for this… for all of your ideas…. I LOVE them… s as nd think I can use this to relate it to our “What is culture?” , as well as products, practices and perspectives of culture. Best if luck fir a wonderful year!


  4. Querida amiga, adoro tu amor por el español, tu persistencia, tu gran compromiso de darles lo mejor a tus alumnos y tu enorme generosidad al compartir tu trabajo con esta comunidad de profesores. Muchísimas gracias! Me inspiras aún y cuando yo ya casi voy de salida. ¡Eres una gran maestra! (Además de muchas otras cosas más).


  5. Thank you so much! I wanted to do something with the Olympics. I was super interested in the “refugee” team which is such an interesting concept and works well with IB and AP themes about identity, etc, so I think I will spotlight the refugee team when I am introducing this assignment.

    Liked by 1 person

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