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Corridos and Al Otro Lado Curriculum Guide

This collection of lesson plans and classroom activities were inspired by the film Al Otro Lado (2006), a documentary about the tradition of corridos--a genre of narrative folk ballads developed in Mexico during the 1800s that share about historical events, figures, and socially relevant topics. Still popular in Mexico and Mexican-American communities, individuals continue to write and share corridos about culturally relevant topics today. Al Otro Lado follows Magdiel, an aspiring corrido composer from Sinaloa, who writes narcocorridos (ballads about narcotrafcking), as he faces difficult choices to better his life: traffic drugs, or cross the border illegally to move to the U.S.

Below are the lessons included in the guide.

1 - Teaching Los Corridos Grade Level(s): 9-12, Spanish I, Spanish II; Subject Area(s): Spanish, Music, Language Arts, Social Studies

Essential Question: What is a corrido and its cultural and historical context? Do you recognize music from your own culture that incorporates similar elements as the corridos?

Objectives: Using reference materials in small groups, students will be able to compare a corrido to music popular in the United States. Using maps, students will be able to identify the historical and geographical context of corridos in Mexico. Students will be able to compare the elements of corridos used by two different corristas. Students will be able to compose their own corrido, using traditional corrido elements.

2 - Corridos in the Spanish I Classroom Grade Level: 8th grade students in their second half of Spanish I; Subject Area: Spanish

Objectives: Students become familiar with content, history, format, and themes of corridos. Students will see the value of the corrido as a form of self-expression and storytelling. Students will create their own verses or complete corridos in Spanish.

3 - Corridos: Myth and Collective Memory Grade Level: 6-9;  Subject Area(s): Language Arts

Essential Questions: How do early corrodistos use the composition of their songs within their families and communities? What do these mythical or historical figures tell us about Mexican culture and diaspora?

Objectives: Students will be able to locate and analyze the mythic figures in early corridos and explain their significance to the Northern Mexican people and diaspora. Students will be able to understand the social function of the coridos and compare them to social engagements in their lives (Twitter, Tumblr). Students will speculate on the rise of the genre of corridos and the various influences on the style.

4 - Magdiel (Al Otro Lado) Grade Level: 9-12;  Subject Area: Spanish

Essential Questions:¿Cómo es la percepción de los Estados Unidos al medio mexicano? ¿Qué tan importante es la voz en los corridos? ¿Para qué motivos inmigran unos mexicanos?

Objectives: Students will recognize genres of music and their purpose. Students will analyze motivations for immigration. Students will be able to infer possible outcomes.

5 - Lesson: Chalino Sánchez Subject Area(s): Spanish II and III

Essential Questions: What is a corrdor and its cultural context? Why is an understanding of the corridor helpful? What are similar musical expressions in your own culture?

Objectives: Students will describe an image and draw conclusions about what it communicates to them. Students will make connections to similar images in their own culture and compare/contrast meanings. Students will read a biography in Spanish of Chalino, identify key events and summarize. Students will watch a portion of Al Otro Lado and identify references to Chalino and interpret comments by  his fans. Students will summarize the story in one of Chalino's corridos.

6 - Corridos y el Dia de los Muertos Grade Level(s): 6th Grade / Espanol II

Lesson explores the Day of the Dead through eulogic corridos. Students practice adjectives, second person singular and past tense verbs while simultaneously learning cultural information related to the Day of the Dead and corridos. Interdisciplinary connections with music curriculum and the use of educational technology to record music videos/song is encouraged in extension activities.

Objectives: Students will be able to: a) use four adjectives correctly in Spanish sentences, b) ask questions in second person singular, c) incorporate humor or suspence into an anecdote, d) write a corrido using verbs in past tense.


Marilyn Bruner, Sally Griffin, Courtney Rayburn, Sibley Kelly, Casey Boersma, Melyn Roberson, Elizabeth Allen, Alicia Preacher


Lesson Plans

Grade Levels

5–8, 9–12, College


Spanish language, social studies, English, history