Grade level:

10th grade (the language proficiency needed for this lesson is Intermediate-Low)

Approximate Lesson Duration:

58-minute block

Unit/Lesson New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS):


7.1.IL.A.1 Identify the main idea and most supporting details contained in culturally authentic materials using electronic information and other sources related to targeted themes.
7.1.IL.A.2 Demonstrate comprehension of oral and written instructions connected to daily activities through appropriate responses.
7.1.IL.A.4 Use the target language to describe people, places, objects, and daily activities learned about through oral or written descriptions.
7.1.IL.A.5 Demonstrate comprehension of conversations and written information on a variety of topics.
7.1.IL.A.7 Infer the meaning of a few unfamiliar words in some new contexts.
7.1.IL.B.1 Use digital tools to participate in short conversations and to exchange information related to targeted themes.
7.1.IL.B.2 Give and follow a series of oral and written directions, commands, and requests for participating in age- and level-appropriate classroom and cultural activities.
7.1.IL.B.3 Use appropriate gestures, intonation, and common idiomatic expressions of the target culture(s)/language in familiar situations.
7.1.IL.B.4 Ask and respond to factual and interpretive questions of a personal nature or on school-related topics.
7.1.IL.B.5 Engage in short conversations about personal experiences or events and/or topics studied in other content areas.
7.1.IL.C.5 Explain the cultural perspective associated with a few cultural products and cultural practices from the target culture (s) and one’s own culture.

Brief Summary of Cultural Competencies Related to the Unit/Lesson:

This lesson will analyze the lyrics and cultural significance of the salsa song “El Gran Varón”. The song touches on issues of strained family relationships, homophobia,  AIDS and trangender identities. 

Source – Wikipedia entry about song

Lesson Overview:

Essential Question(s)

How does our parents’ upbringing and societies’ expectations of gender roles affect how we grow up seeing ourselves?  What sacrifices may we have to make to stay true to ourselves?  It is more important to stay true to your beliefs or to accept change?

Enduring Understanding(s)

Societies’ definition of traditional gender roles affect our personal relationships. Our parents’ expectations shape our identities.

Potential Misconceptions

The lyrics never mention AIDS by name and they also talk about the idea of “correcting nature”. Both of these characteristics may be fuel for heated discussion in class.

Learning plan, experiences, intstruction and learning activities:

What is Expected?
  • List the intentional learning objectives on the board.

Students will be able to:

  • Identify and explain the familial dynamics expressed in the lyrics of the song. 
  • Be able to compare and contrast contemporary interpretations of AIDS and the presentation of this song written in the 1980s.  
  • Be able to exchange ideas about the story presented within the lyrics of the song.
What is expected?
How will we hook (Introduce this to) the students?
  • Activate thinking
  • Consider the language you will use to introduce the lesson (See example in the table)

I would likely place this lesson in a unit dealing with family dynamics. 

I would ask the students to recall the dynamics in a family presented in something we had read in class (at this level my students read “La Camisa de Margarita” by Ricardo Palma). 

I would ask them to identify the expectation they believed Margarita’s father and Luis’ uncle had for the younger members of their families. What they identified would have to be supported by a detail from the story. 

This would be followed by a set up of this song, which talks about a father and son relationship. The father is named Andrés and the son Simón. I would explain that the relationship here is also one built on a very specific expectation that may not be fulfilled. 

What equipment, resources, or materials are needed?

In order to complete these lessons, one needs access to the internet and a Smart Board or similar technology. Teacher-created handouts and some way for the students to exchange video reactions (FlipGrid will be suggested here but there are other ways of doing this).

How will we rethink or revise our thinking throughout the lesson?
  • What learning is confirmed?
  • What misconceptions are uncovered?
  • What is your new thinking?

I feel that there is a universal identification with parental expectation. I think that what may be difficult for some students to understand will be the rejection of Simón by his father and the lack of effort on the part of Andrés to support his son. 

While the goal here is to use this biographical song to explain this strained dynamic and to have the students unpack the different aspects of the song’s lyrics one may have to provide additional historical context in order to make sure that students have a better understanding of why the events in the song unfold as they do.

How will students self-evaluate and reflect on their learning?

During the reading of the lyrics, students will be asked to identify expressions that emphasize either the father’s (Andrés) perspective or those of the son (Simón). At the very beginning of the song, when it talks about Andrés’ hopes for his son’s future, the song is rife with very specific gender ideas (the title alludes to this – The Great Male in English) and students will be asked to share their thoughts about what the song says and what they feel are the characteristics of a great male.

How will we tailor learning to varied needs, interests, and learning styles?

Analysis of the lyrics can be aided using the full lyrics on a sheet of paper with rephrasing of expressions in the target language. The lesson as originally proposed does end with summative assessments in written form but an instructor can choose to do one of the following:

  • Have students storyboard a video of the song. 
  • Have students explain in the target language a song in English that they feel connects with one of the major themes of the song.
How will we organize the sequence of learning during the lesson?

Scaffold the Instruction

  1. Model – students will be guided through the reading and analysis of this song. They will be presented with the biography of the singer and songwriter first. They will be given a brief summary about the song and then listen to it using the video provided in accompanying slide show.
  2. Guided Practice – Once they have heard the song, the lyrics will be broken down into manageable pieces for further reading and interpretation. The goal of this part of the lesson is to make sure that the students understand the language being used and the expressions being used to convey particular ideas.Once the instructor and the students have done this second reading of the song, the song can be taken apart even further as the expressions used to convey the father’s thoughts and the societal perspective of the situation of the song are of historical significance and are to be used to compare how society would now regard such a situation.
  3. Independent Practice – Students will be asked to identify a song in English (or another language other than Spanish) that deals with the same themes or familial dynamic. They will be asked to prepare a small presentation/explanation of the song to share with their classmates the following day before continuing with this lesson.

Check for understanding:

(Formative evidence such as conferencing, group Q/A, teacher observation, exit-slip, etc.)

During the lesson, the instructor will check for understanding by: 

  1. Asking pointed questions about the lyrics of the song in order to make sure the students understand what they are listening/reading. 
  2. Students will be asked to rephrase parts of the song and share their interpretations with their classmates. Other classmates will share their interpretations as well in an effort to appreciate each other’s points of view.
Quiz/Test (optional):
(attach copy of assessment)

During the second day, students will be asked to write, peer edit and respond to writing samples created by peers.

Performance Task/Project:
(attach rubric)

Rubrics will be attached as editable documents. These rubrics are coming from the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Public School website.


Download Lesson Plan PDF:


El Gran Varón Lesson 1 90.10 KB 4 downloads

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