While writing NERVOUS MARY for my daughter to help her get to know her grandmother living across the ocean in Spain (my Bio on the Author page tells more), I began to have ideas of how it could be used in the classroom. When I was a teacher (Spanish, all levels), I found that when I incorporated stories of young people from other cultures and time periods into the curriculum, it helped students learn the subject matter in a context that was relevant and interesting, while also showing the commonality of our human experience. Stories can be useful in just about any subject to provide context and opportunity for growth. And while I believe NERVOUS MARY is ideal for students of Spanish Language & Culture, and English as a Foreign Language (especially in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries), I also think NM will be a valuable and stimulating tool for classes of: History, Geography & Civics; Literature & Creative Writing; Politics & Government; Creative Arts; Religion, Ethics & Philosophy; Home Economics; and of course, Psychology, Health & Science. Dealing with a time and place in history almost completely unknown to most students in our country (U.S.A.), NERVOUS MARY is full of important cultural and literary references, and presents a political scenario that, though different from our own, led to conflicts not unlike those we are living at the very moment I am typing these words. NERVOUS MARY readers will feel compassion for Maria and her family as they suffer through a terrible civil war; and with Maria, they will struggle with some important moral questions. Also, since Mental Illness plays an important role in NM, they will come to understand some of its forms, symptoms and effects, and find, at the end, some encouraging words about anxiety from an empathetic licensed counselor, in a section entitled, Some Thoughts About Anxiety.
So, dear Teacher, in case you decide to use NERVOUS MARY in your curriculum in any way, I have included on the Students page of this website a list of themes from each chapter, as well as, in some cases, some helpful links. Students can choose a theme that interests them from each chapter’s list as they read, perhaps for homework assignments, or as a semester project. You will set the guidelines, whether you want them to write a poem or essay about their chosen theme, prepare a poster or other artwork, present a monologue or skit, etc. Teachers of Spanish or English as a foreign language can decide how much should be done in the target language, depending on the level, and other subject teachers can also adjust the assignments accordingly. As you will see, the first suggested theme of each chapter list is the chapter’s title, which is always a proverb, or saying, in Spanish and English. And the last suggested theme is something of the student's choosing from that chapter. There are some unique and curious themes in NERVOUS MARY! Some sad ones as well, though important and very relevant.
Also...have you seen the FAN ART PAGE yet? This is another great way to involve your students! Have them create NERVOUS MARY related art for your assignments (illustrations, poems, songs, Spanish foods, etc.) and send photos/videos of their work to me at LAD@nervousmary.com. Check out more on the FAN ART PAGE!
Whatever you do, my hope is that both students and teachers enjoy NERVOUS MARY and have the opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas! And if you want to share any of your ideas and experiences with me, by contacting me on the Author page, please do! I would love to hear from you!
All the best! ~ LAD