Accounts of Monteverde: Cortometrajes - Educational Travel Lesson Plan

Educational Travel Lesson Plans

Accounts of Monteverde: Cortometrajes



In this lesson, students will analyze a short film about the Monteverde Reserve, then present their findings in the target language. Students will then investigate answers to questions asked about their presentation.



Grade Level



60 minutes

Tour Links

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Essential Questions

  • What is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve?
  • Why is the Monteverde Reserve under protection?
  • What types of people are necessary to protect the cloud forest successfully?


  • Computer Lab, with Internet connection
  • Headphones or Speakers
  • Monteverde ¡Ya! Video Response Sheet

Key Terms

  • la biodiversidad biodiversity
  • el biólogo biologist
  • el bosque nuboso cloud forest
  • el cafetalero coffee grower
  • el calentamiento global global warming
  • el cambio climático climate change
  • la conservación conservation
  • el conservacionista conservationalist
  • conservar to conserve
  • la contaminación contamination
  • el daño damage
  • la deforestación deforestation
  • el ecosistema ecosystem
  • el ecoturismo ecotourism
  • el educador educator
  • la especie en peligro de extinción endangered species
  • la extinción extinction
  • extinguirse to become extinct, to die out
  • el finquero farmer
  • el guía guide
  • el investigador researcher
  • el lechero milkman
  • el medio ambiente environment
  • la naturaleza nature
  • el operador de turismo tourism operator
  • el pionero pioneer
  • plantar to plant
  • proteger to protect
  • la reforestación reforestation
  • el técnico specialist




The Monteverde Cloud Forest: over 35,089 acres of protected land in Costa Rica, housing over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and 1200 species of amphibians and reptiles, and… founded by Americans?

That’s right.  In 1948, young men throughout the United States were called to military service in order to wage war on the Korean peninsula.  This conflicted with the Religious Society of Friends (better known as Quakers), a religious group that not only objected war and all forms of violence, but also actively promoted peace and pacifism.  In 1949, four young Quakers from the Meeting of Friends in Fairhope, Alabama refused to register for the draft and were sent to prison.  After their release, forty-four Quaker families left Fairhope and moved to Costa Rica.  Pepe Figueres, the president there, had recently abolished the Costa Rican army.  Could this be a place where the Quakers could finally live in peace?

After months of searching for a spot that would suit their new community, the Quakers finally settled on a piece of land in a cloud forest they named Monteverde (Green Hill in Spanish).  The group bought about 1400 hectares (about 3500 acres) of this land, setting aside 554 hectares to protect their water supply and clearing the rest for housing and dairy farming.

In the 1960s, biologists, herpetologists (dedicated to the study of amphibians and reptiles), and ornithologists (dedicated to the study of birds), flocked to Monteverde, drawn by accounts of others viewing exotic creatures in its forest and intrigued by its English-speaking population.  In 1970, two biology students from California visited the forest and immediately became concerned about its protection.  At the rate the deforestation was going the whole forest would disappear, along with its fauna and flora.  The students, George and Harriet Powell, worked with the Quakers and the Tropical Science Center in San José to protect the cloud forest.  With their help, along with donations from the United States, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve was formed.

That was in 1972.  Today, the Monteverde Reserve continues to increase its protective reach and spread the word of conservation to others.  In this lesson, students will analyze a short film about the Monteverde Reserve, then present their findings in the target language.  Students will then investigate answers to questions asked about their presentation.

educational tour image
  1. Students will analyze a short film about the Monteverde Reserve, using guided questions in the target language.
  2. Students will present their analysis to the class in the target language.
  3. Students will formulate questions in the target language regarding their classmates’ oral presentations.
  4. Students will investigate answers to their classmates’ questions, presenting their findings in written format in the target language.

To view resource web pages, download the lesson plan PDF above.

I. Anticipatory Set (5 minutes)

  • Write the words bosque and nuboso on the board.  What words do we know, in Spanish or another language, that are similar to these words?  The word bosque has a similar etymology to the English word bush — both come from the word bosc in Old French, meaning wood.  This is the same root that gives us the words bouquet (in English) and buqué (in Spanish).  The word nuboso is the adjective form of the Spanish word nube, or cloud.  In turn, this word comes from the Latin word nubes, meaning the same thing.  Knowing all of this, it is easy to remember that the word bosque translates to forest, and nuboso translates to cloudy.  What, then, do you think the term bosque nuboso translates to?  (Answer: Cloud forest.)
  • Think-Pair-Share: What is a bosque nuboso (“cloud forest”)?  (Or, what do you think a “cloud forest” is?)  Think about the question for 10 seconds on your own, then discuss your thoughts with a partner for 30 seconds.  Afterwards, share your opinions with the class.
    Answer: A cloud forest is a tropical forest, often located near the peaks of coastal mountains, that usually has constant cloud cover throughout the year.

II. Body of Lesson (50 minutes)

  • Monteverde Introduction: Today, we are going to learn about the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica.  Can you guess how it got its name?  (Monte verde in Spanish translates to Green Hill.)  The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (the part of the forest under protection) covers over 35,089 acres of land.  Within the boundaries of the reserve, there are over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and 1200 species of amphibians and reptiles.
  • Class Discussion: Why do you think the land is under protective care?  How does one go about protecting land like this?  What types of people are needed in order for the mission of the Monteverde Reserve to be accomplished successfully?  Brainstorm as a class, writing student responses on the board.
  • Circle any responses similar to pioneer, conservationist, guide, biologist, farmer, educator, researcher, specialist, milkman, tourism operator, or coffee grower.  Then, fill in any missing occupations.  These are the types of people we will be focusing on today.
  • Split up the class into partners (or small groups, depending on how many computers are available).  Then, pass out the Monteverde ¡Ya! video response sheet to each student.  Assign an occupation to each group, having them write the occupation name on the top of their sheet next to “Cortometraje.”
  • Direct students to the site entitled “11 Cortometrajes Sobre los que Viven y Trabajan en el Bosque Nuboso de Monteverde.”  Here, students will find 11 short films, each one dedicated to a different occupation on the board.  Each group should listen to their assigned cortometraje, then fill out the analysis worksheet in response to their findings.
    Note: “El bueno” and “el malo” refers to the English terms “good guy” and “bad guy.”
  • After each group has finished the assignment, they will present their findings to the class in the target language.  After each presentation, open the floor up for questions from the audience.  Each group is expected to ask one question about the presentation.  It can be something they wish to be clarified, expanded upon, etc.  Write the questions on the board, leaving enough room for each presentation.

III. Closure (5 minutes)

  • Class Discussions: What have we learned about the Monteverde Reserve today?  Why is the land under protective care?  How does one go about protecting land like this?
  • At the end of the presentations, the board should be filled with questions.  Instruct each group to review the questions asked about their presentation.  Are there any they find particularly interesting?  Have each group write down two of these questions.
  • Homework: Research an answer to two of the questions asked about your presentation.  In complete sentences, write a one-paragraph response to each of these questions.  Make sure to cite your sources!


On tour: Monteverde Cloud Forest

Make your way to Monteverde, perhaps the richest and best-known biological reserve in the world. The count is in: between 320 and 400 species of birds, between 2000 and 2500 species of plants, and 100 different mammals inhabit this place. (Almost certainly more, since new species are being constantly identified.) Hear the mysterious call of the three-wattled bellbird echo among giant oaks and palm trees. Bring a notepad and pencil (or if you’re feeling creative, a video camera!). Interview an employee or native of the area. What do they know about the history of Monteverde? What do they think the future holds for the reserve? Can you classify this person in one of the categories from the cortometrajes (i.e. pioneer, conservationist, guide, biologist, farmer, educator, researcher, specialist, milkman, tourism operator, or coffee grower)?


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