Today I taught a lesson that compared the current war in Ukraine to the Spanish Civil War. The lesson was built around a wonderful video from the good folks at Dreaming Spanish. (Be forewarned that the first few seconds are glitchy.) My PowerPoint for the lesson is available here.
Before starting the video, we talked about the war in Ukraine: how were the students following the situation, did they have Ukrainian friends, and the characteristics of the two sides in the war. We also previewed vocabulary that would appear in the video.
During the video, I hit the pause button often to check for comprehension, to highlight similarities between the two wars, and to enrich the presentation with further information regarding Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and Picasso’s Guernica.
The bottom line was that both conflicts involve a spirited democracy, fighting with a force that includes professional soldiers and ordinary citizens, against a better-armed autocracy (in the Spanish case, a future autocracy) that does not hesitate to take civilian lives. Unlike the Spanish Republicans, the Ukrainians are united behind a charismatic leader and have extensive international support.
The final part of the class focused on Spanish Civil War posters. I had prepared a Google Slides presentation with a number of posters from both the Republican and Nationalist sides. I had shared this presentation with my students ahead of time and had asked them to bring their laptops. Working in pairs, students chose one of the posters, did some quick research on it (mostly, looking up unfamiliar words), and then presented ‘their’ poster to the class.
Teachers: if you try this lesson, please let me know how it goes for you.