Grade Levels:

Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration

Teacher Story Synopsis:
Fina Mendoza is stuck at home on Capitol Hill with her older sister Gabby during the coronavirus outbreak. Her teacher assigns Fina's class a daily journal to record details of this unique time as a history project to create primary sources for future historians. Fina complains about all the things that are closed down in Washington D.C. and her sister complains about Fina using the family phone to record her journal, preventing Gabby from texting her friends.
Fina's father is a U.S. Congressman, sitting on the House Rules Committee, which is considering ways for lawmakers to vote remotely. His staffer Claudia checks in on the girls and explains the constitutional challenges to letting Papa stay home and allowing Congress to vote remotely. Fina's dog-walking job is on hold and she wonders whethe she qualifies for unemployment compensation. She also solves a small mystery.

Student Story Synopsis:
Fina Mendoza's school is shut down, so she and her sister Gabby are doing their school work from home. Fina's assignment is to make a daily journal of her life during this stay at home break - something that future historians can use.
Fina's father is a U.S. Congressman and still has to go to work in the U.S. Capitol. Fina asks his assistant why he can't work and vote from home like almost everybody else. She also solves a small mystery.

Listening Guide

Activate Student knowledge: What students need to understand before listening.

BEFORE LISTENING: Activate prior knowledge:
Begin the lesson by asking students to talk about what they know about coronavirus (COVID-19). Then ask them what they know about Congress.
Preview the vocabulary by reading aloud the terms and their definitions.

DURING LISTENING: Active listening supports
Have students take notes as they listen.

In one column, note facts about Fina and her family. List a student's opinions about the story in the a second column.
Fact: Fina walks a dog for money. Opinion: I like the dog as much as Fina.
Begin the lesson by asking students whether they have ever kept a diary or journal.

Preview the vocabulary by reading aloud the terms and their definitions.

Introduce the story:
Fina Mendoza is the 10-year-old daughter of a congressman from California. She moved to Washington, D.C. with her older sister Gabby to live with their father full time. Fina walks the dogs members of Congress bring to their offices every day and solves mysteries.

• Ask students to respond to the listening
comprehension questions and share their responses with a partner, small group, or the whole class. • Ask students to share their notes to ensure they
understand the difference between facts and opinions
from the audio story. • Have students write their own Living History journal
entry for today.


  1. Why is Fina recording herself?
  2. Is Senator Something a lawmaker?
  3. Where is Fina's father and grandmother?
  4. Why can't Fina's father use Zoom or email to vote on
    a bill in Congress?
  5. What clue helped Fina solve the mystery of the lost
    TV remote control?


  • Coronavirus (noun) - a new virus with the formal name
    of COVID-19. It is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. primary sources (adjective, noun) - documents, images or artifacts that provide a firsthand account of an historic event.
  • journal, diary (noun) - a record of what you have
    done, or of descriptions or thoughts, written each day or frequently over a long period
  • Abuelita (noun, Spanish) - little grandmother, an affectionate way to call a grandmother
  • Tía (noun, Spanish) - aunt
  • Essential workers (adjective, noun) - people who keep
    the country running, keep us fed and work in our hospitals. Staffer (noun) - someone who works for a member of Congress
  • Arboretum (noun) - a botanical garden of trees. The National Arboretum is in Washington, D.C.
  • Unemployment money (adjective, noun) - money for workers who have lost their jobs
  • Regulations (noun) - rules
  • House Rules Committee (adjective, noun) - the congressional committee that acts like a traffic cop, deciding whose ideas get included in a bill
  • Ears are burning (saying) - the feeling you get when you think someone is talking about you
  • Quorum (noun) - the number of people you need to
    legally conduct business


Can you understand everything Senator Something says?
Why do you think Fina understands him so well? 2. Do you think Congress should be able to vote from home? Why or why not? 3. Should Fina get unemployment money because her dog walking job is on hold?

Learn about Coronavirus: