Beginning with inquiry – La Guerra Sucia

Spanish 4 and 5 have certainly studied their fair share of wars and atrocities. Last year they learned about how the civil war in El Salvador led to the creation of the world’s most dangerous gang – the Mara Salvatrucha. Last semester they studied the Spanish Civil War. And now we are embarking on the Guerra Sucia in Argentina. They know the drill…fascism versus communism…same story different people. They have a LOT of useful background knowledge. So why would I need to TELL them about it?

I decided I really love using stations this year. I’ve always wanted to try them, but this year I took the plunge. In chatting with others via twitter, I learned that stations really work well when they are used to introduce new information. So, this is what I have come up with so far.

Station 1:

(A laptop is set up with the links open. I have small plastic baskets containing 5 sets of headphones and a headphone jack splitter for each station that involves listening.)


Listen to the song “Dinosaurios” y Charley Garcia

The lyrics are here:

Answer discussion questions together.

  1. ¿Quiénes han desaparecido?
  2. ¿Qué tono/emoción tiene la canción?
  3. ¿El cantante menciona dinosaurios? ¿Por qué?
  4. Translate this quote by Charley Garcia:   “Milagrosamente no me llevaron preso, ni me torturaron. Me pasó lo que le pasó a cualquier tipo que tenía el pelo largo: que me llevaran frecuentemente a comisarías, por ejemplo para pedirme explicaciones sobre las letras de las canciones.”

Station 2:

(A desktop computer is set up with the link open)

Día Nacional del Derecho a la Identidad
Watch this video (by the way, this video is awesomely comprehensible for my students!):

Listen to the video and write down 5 sentences in Spanish that describe the main idea of the video.

Station 3:

(A chromebook is set up with the link open)

Comparación de fotos


NOTE: This video is no longer available!

You will see several sets of 2 photos compared. In each set, what relationship do you think the person(s) who disappear(s) has to the others in the photo? Write at least 7 sentences.

__________ desapareció.

__________ y ___________ desparecieron.

Example: La madre tenía un bebé pero el bebé desapareció en la otra foto.

Station 4:

Wall of the disappeared activity

Haz clic en cinco fotos y llena la información.


Station 5:

Read the article and answer the questions.


I provided the Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo encuentran a otro hijo de desaparecidos article (which I modified slightly for improved comprehensibility) and a set of highlighters.

Station 6:

View the photos. Discuss in your group what you think is happening in each photo. Video yourself as you describe 3-4 of the photos to me in Spanish.


I am very excited that next week we will be viewing the film Cautiva and using Today’s Meet to chat about the film with Bethanie @lovemysummer Drew’s kiddos in North Carolina! Should be fun! I will let you know how the rest of the unit goes!

My pinterest board for La Guerra Sucia


  1. This is my first year teaching Spanish 4 Honors. We will be reading La guerra sucia and watch either La historia oficial or Cautiva. I love the well thought out actives for the stations. You rock!
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Hola! Love love love your ideas! Thank you! PS, did you use La Historia Oficial during this unit? I am trying to figure out if it is interesting for the kids/ worth it to take the two blocks to watch it… It is for my Spanish 2 and 3 Honors students… Thoughts?? I showed it before but that was over 10 years ago and I haven’t taught about Los Desaparecidos since! Gracias de antemano!

  3. Hi, Thanks for sharing. I love the stations idea as well. The link, however, no longer works for the youtube video in Station #3. What was this exactly? I would love to find another video that could serve the same purpose! Thanks

    1. Same problem! I am wanting to use these stations as my students are reading this book third quarter this year. I am going to incorporate these stations with the History Fair for a full quarter of work. so excited for this year!!!! BUT, I would LOVE the video link!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing! This coming week with my Sp 4 PreAP students I will be starting a unit on ‘La Guerra Sucia’ novel and ‘La Historia Oficial’ movie and plan to start it out with stations thanks to your generous ideas.

  5. Awesome plunge into stations, Kristy! Looks like yours went way better than mine did when I did Guerra Sucia last year. One idea to share with others: reach out to the producers of the authentic resources! My students had a chance to Skype with the photographer of the Ausencias exhibit (very cool) and almost had the chance to interview the son of the American reporter who bravely reported the truth about what was happening (forget why it fell through). I just messaged the artist on his web page and found the reporter on LinkedIn.

    Lots of folks are enthusiastic to contribute to our students’ learning and just need to be asked. Worse case scenario is that they tell you no or ignore your message so go for it!

    1. Thanks Noah! With all of our snow days things have been so disjointed this year! I am now rushing to finish the unit before my seniors leave! I know it will go even better next time!

  6. I love these activities, Kristy. Thanks for sharing. We are going through book adoption in Indiana and we want to order many of the TPRS readers including this one. Could you possibly send me an email to tell me what readers you use at each level in your school? (Spanish 1-4)
    This would help us decide.
    Beth Beery

  7. Hi Kristy,
    I love what you have shared here for La Guerra Sucia book. In Indiana it is adoption year for us and we hope to order many books from TPRS Publishing.
    Can you tell me what readers you use at levels 1-4?
    My email is
    Thank you! Your advise would be very helpful to us as we look at these readers.

  8. You hit it out of the ballpark on this one! I’m reading La Guerra Sucia with my Sp4/5 now but I wish I would only be starting it next week in order to use your activities to introduce it.
    I’ll find a place to add them this year and then follow your format more closely next year.
    Thank you, thank you for sharing!!

  9. You found some great resources for this project; looks like a fantastic learning model (and unit). Thanks for sharing!

  10. What an exciting model of how to use choice, inquiry, comprehensible input, and authentic texts–plus every communication mode!! I love all the different media and tailored ways of interacting with the texts in an appropriate and accessible way!

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