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Cuca' Conundrums Episode Fifteen:Crazy Quinceñera

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“Cuca’s Conundrums Episode Fifteen: Crazy Quinceñera” (Fifteenth Birthday) written by Norma Landa Flores and available on digital download @teacherspayteachers.com, is a 29 page Oral Communication and Reader’s Theater Lesson that features the story entitled, “Episode Fifteen: “Crazy Qunceañera,” It is the fifteenth in a collection of 17 interrelated short stories about Cuca, an undocumented immigrant girl who makes her way from Mexico to Texas and Arizona to settle in with her aunt Miriam and cousin Dora in the Boyle Heights and Downtown areas of Los Angeles, California, in 1933.

The Saga takes place from 1924-1937, so it incorporates many multicultural communication and collaboration strategies immigrants used to overcome barriers to inclusion that were evident during that era. Each Scene can be read aloud in a Reader’s Circle or silently by each student. After the reading, Multiple Choice questions about the story are provided. Each Episode ends with an Epilogue that features specific pronunciation practice activities and self-assessment worksheets and is independent of the previous Episode.

This material is suitable for students in grades 10-12 and above. In addition, the content is very helpful for any older age level student learning English as a Second Language or for older Special Education students having difficulty pronouncing [u] [ʊ] [ʌ] or who substitute [ oʊ ], [ u ] or [ ɑ ] for these sounds. “Cuca’s Conundrums Episode Fifteen: Crazy Quinceañera” encourages verbal communication, cooperation and oral collaboration while developing competent speaking and listening skills.

Cuca’s Conundrums Episode Fifteen: Crazy Qiunceañera ~ Contents:
[u] [ʊ] [ʌ] Vowel Pronunciation Pre-Assessment .....3
No Money For Birthday Parties, July 1933 .....4
Boyle Heights Quinceañera .....4
Downtown L.A. Job Seeking .....9
Cuca Shares Mari Dolorosa’s Pain .....13
Touché to Mari’s Trenzas-Braids! ....17
Epilogue: Your “Face” Was Never Discussed! .....19
Pronunciation Grades .....21
Multiple Choice Questions for Discussion .....22
[u] [ʊ] [ʌ] Vowel Pronunciation Post-Assessment .....23
Contexts & Standards-Based Criteria for
Assessing [u] [ʊ] [ʌ] .....24
Appendix: Suggestions for the Teacher/Facilitator .....25
First Suggestion:Oral Communication About the Short Story.....26
Second Suggestion: [u] [ʊ] [ʌ] Pronunciation Assessments.....27
Third Suggestion:Oral Interpretation, Reader’s Theatre, Stage, Play, Broadcast, etc. .....28
Peroration and Copyright Information..... 29

A wonderful bonus is that this Episode serves as a sample for writing a short story for Reader’s Theatre or Oral Interpretation of Literature, bilingually, because the text is rich in dialogue and is supplemented with plenty of intriguing click art illustrations that establish the situational context and appropriateness of the student’s oral communication.

The scenes are brief enough to edit into a classroom or speech tournament presentation. Furthermore, it improves pronunciation in a relevant, student-centered method. The most important lesson to be taken from this Episode is that “When life hands you a lemon, you can make lemonade!” In other words even when young people get in trouble, they can be resilient. Cuca may suffer some set-backs, but she is very quick to recover and that is how people, new to a community, make circumstances work for them, at least that’s what her madrina, the crippled artist, taught her.
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