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 continue the analysis of 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. After breaking down the lyrics and the meaning of the words yesterday, today students will be comparing the perspective of the parent and child in the song to contemporary counterparts. They will express the differences and similarities in such a situation in written and oral form.  

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 in written and oral form.
  • Be able to express empathy for the characters involved in such a situation and demonstrate such emotion in written or oral form. 
  • Be able to identify, apply and articulate difference of societal mindset between when this song was written (1988) and today. 
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 this second lesson students will take the perspective of the song discussed during the prior lesson and incorporate these notions into written and oral products to be shared with their classmates and teacher.

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

During this lesson the google slide provided to use to present the song can be made available to students. Since today the kids will be speaking and writing about their own ideas about this topic to a greater degree than the previous lesson, the instructor can consider the use of graphic organizers such as Venn Diagrams, Word Clouds or something similar to serve as an idea/word bank for students who may need the extra assistance.

How will we organize the sequence of learning during the lesson?

Scaffold the Instruction

  1. Model – At the beginning of class, students will be asked to share contemporary songs that present similar scenarios or themes to those in the song El Gran Varón. If the students don’t provide examples another way to start class is to ask the students to create a description of the two main characters in the song (Andrés & Simón) and create a timeline of events for the song.
  2. Guided Practice – Once this conversation and discussion has taken place, students will be tasked with a writing assignment:The first is to write a letter to one of the characters in the story. Students are being given the choice to write to either person, Andrés or Simón, and the point in time the letter will be referring to (i.e. when Simón first comes out, or when Andrés finds out that Simón is in the hospital). The letter is supposed to be a letter that contains advice regarding their relationship as well as an expression of what the student is feeling regarding this situation.Students will be provided with a Rubric and the instructor will be available to help guide them in the production of this letter.
  3. Independent Practice – After writing this letter, students will be asked to exchange their letters with a classmate (the instructor can also set up pairs to work together if they choose). Once the letters have been exchanged, students will read the letters and offer constructive criticism (like an informal peer edit) and then they will record their reaction to the letter using Google Voice, FlipGrid or some other method. The recording is to allow for the interactions to happen in a brief period of time while allowing the instructor to be able to listen to/observe these interactions at another point in time.

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. Circulating during the writing process and offering advice on grammatical structures and content. 
  2. Students will be asked about their writing as they complete their letters. Part of the writing process is considering what you are putting on the page.
Quiz/Test (optional):
(attach copy of assessment)

The letter and the reaction may be considered separate formative assessments.

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 2 91.32 KB 4 downloads

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