Comprehensible Input, Identity,, Thematic Units

The Formation and Politics of Identity: Spanish Level 4 Unit by A.C. Quintero

Picture by E. Gómez, Barcelona

In an effort to give teachers a peek inside my classroom, I will be using this space to share resources, ideas, and lessons that have shaped by Identity unit for my level 4 classroom. This unit consists of a plethora of resources, both paid and free. Some of the resources were authored by me, while others are contributions other teacher authors. I am listing as I go, with the goal of distilling everything into implementable lesson plans (long-term goal). If you have tips in terms of organization, please email me, and I will try my best to organize the information so that it is accessible and useful to teachers. My units are broken down into phases. Each phase culminates with either a formative assessment or a summative one.

Phase 1: Let’s Get To Know Each Other

Task 1: Special Person Interviews 

I implement this unit the first week back to school. After doing “La máquina de tiempo” and Allison Wienhold’s Find someone who activity, we delve right into Special Person, or “La persona especial. 

This activity was developed by Bryce Hedstrom, and has been used by countless of world language teachers. In an identity unit at the beginning of the year, it is the perfect task to get students to find out about their classmates. The Special Person’s activity is guided by this free resource: Todo sobre mí.

How Do We Get From “Todo Sobre Mí” To Special Persons Interviews

#1 Model the type of response you want

I invite students to interview me, asking me those same questions as those listed on the activity Todo sobre mí. This will give students an opportunity to listen to my responses to the questions, vet the activity, and hopefully, determine that it is a safe and fun activity for them. Sharing things about themselves during the first week could be very daunting, but these questions are perfect for upper-level (they represent a mix, in my opinion) high schoolers.

1.  Students complete the Todo sobre mí activity 

2.  I review questions that’ll prompt the answers to the questions on the board. For example, students have to provide information on their favorite application. I’d ask students to write the question that would solicit that particular response.

3. Students then move into groups to converse about their preferences as detailed on the Todo sobre mí activity. This becomes the basis of our Persona especial

Where is the input? 

Since we watch El Internado, students would read about these famous actors from Spain. I got this resource from Martina. You can click on it here to be directed to her TPT store. It was a great way to discuss other people in the target language. I also created an additional one to add some diversity, and she is one of my favorite actresses on Spanish television.  You can click on that resource here!

Task 2: Interviewing students 

A la Bryce, 10 students are interviewed everyday until we are done interviewing. I only require students to take notes on 4 students a day. Click here for the organizing document.

Task 3: Assessing the students

Phase 2: What Is Identity?

The next phase of our unit, we start to explore identity. The core of this unit, is comprised of my identity resource packet. You can click here for details. This resource packet consists of 25 activities, including readings on the construction of identity. It includes reading comprehension questions, debates, and writing prompts. There are more abridged versions of this resource on TPT.

Task 1: ¡Soy yo!

Who doesn’t love this anthem about identity? I know that there are many great resources regarding how to Movie talk or Picture talk this song. This is the one that I use, and I very much enjoy it. Click here for the resource!

Since the band is from Bogotá, I play this video to give students a taste of what the city is like. You may find other helpful videos, to introduce student to Colombia!

1. Listen to the song, just to absorb the beat (see TPT packet for video on Youtube). 
.4. Go on to Quizlet and review the flashcards (10 minutes). Have them make observations of the tense (past tense). 
4. Reflection: Describe a time when you… Me caí, fracasé, me paré, te criticaron/ share out. 
5. Sing the song with your class!! We always try to conquer the fast melody, but fail every time. It creates laughter and community.

Task 2: Taking A Deeper Dive

We view this video that is inextricably related to adolescents and identity. The video can be accessed on Youtube.com by clicking the link here. The materials that I have created for the video are free on TPT. Click on this link to see how I introduce the theme.

What does teaching this video look like in my class?

1. Students complete the preliminary questions prior to watching the video. These questions are on identity. For example, students are asked to offer a definition of what is identity, and then, who determines your identity.

2. As students share out, I draw an identity concept map on the board. We list out elements such as culture, traditions, music, language, etc. I ask them to provide examples, to get the conversation going.

3. We watch the video on Identity, which is in English, but has very few words offered by the protagonist. She walks around the school with a mask and is pretty mum the whole time.

4. After the video, I have them write down their reactions immediately. I have them share whatever they can about the video. I do this as a confidence builder. Then, I ask them questions about the video with language and vocabulary tied to certain parts. For instance, I asked why they thought the girl had on a mask, why was unique about her mask, who else was wearing a mask.

Side note: One student said he noticed that the teachers did not have masks on, and that he thought they should also wear them!


Frida Painting and Poem Comparison

A few years ago, I stumbled upon this poem, “La mujer del otro lado” by Sylvia Mejía. It is the perfect addition to an identity unit because it oozes with declarations and dichotomies about the nuances of identity.

We did this poem on the heels of our “Soy yo” song, so it was the perfect segue to exploring the theme even more. Here was the game plan:

  • We had students examine the Frida painting ” The Border”. I thought many of what was referenced in the poem about identity could be visually illustrated with this painting. It also reacquainted them with Frida as an artist, consummate example of strong identity (Our Frida unit with Kristy Plácido’s book is set for February). Students described all the elements in the pictures and discussed some of the elements related to identity as well.
  • They read the poem with this poem guide. Later, we compared and contrasted with the poem
  • After reading and discussing the painting and poem, we administered this formative assessment.

Yalitza

The rise of Yalitza from the cultural rich pueblo of Oaxaca, also piqued my interest this year. Since her debut in Roma, and EL Sol article last year published about her, I wanted to find a way to sneak her into the already jammed-packed curriculum; and I did! Below are a few activities, references to resources that made this mini-unit possible. Here was the game plan:

  • First, I wanted to make sure students had a change to become familiar with Oaxaca and all the rich things he had to offer. So we did this scavenger hunt. I supplied students with websites where they could access the information in Spanish. You can click here for this activity.
  • Internet Scavenger Hunt Activity
  • They also had this Quizlet set of vocabulary words. These words were extrapolated from the upcoming readings, and subsequent listening activities. Due to copyright, I cannot share the article from El Sol, but I encourage you to visit their website to see all the great offering they have for the CI classroom!
  • Following Quizlet, students worked on these contextualized sentences with the vocabulary. This particular activity gave them an opportunity to get a brief preview of these words in context. It also made their Quizlet work a bit more challenging.
  • Following the scavenger hunt, students had an opportunity to talk about what they researched. If we are following the input/output paradigm. They received their input from reading about landmarks, food, etc. The output was an outgrowth of that.
  • Listening: Students listened to this video. Instead of providing specific questions, I wanted to see what they had actually understood. They listened to the video and then responded to these questions. I was pleasantly surprised that most of them performed extremely well on this activity.
  • Students had this article to read. I had them only read the first two pages. We stopped where it said “Grabación de Roma.” The goal was to get them more acquainted with her life. Prior to reading we did this pre-vocabulary activity as well.

Comprehensible Input, Spanish CI Readers, Spanish class

Caras Vemos, Corazones No Sabemos: A New and Compelling Novel From The Creative Mind of Theresa Jensen

The world of reading in the target language just got bigger, adding more intriguing layers with the new novel, Caras Vemos, from Theresa Jensen. Over the summer, we saw a record number of teachers, picking up the pen with the goal of enriching our literary experiences, and upping the acquisition factor. Some of the books featured this summer were La última prueba by Jennifer Degenhardt, La ofrenda de Sofía by Theresa Marrama, Alice, La liste by Cecile Laine, and El mensaje by A.C. Quintero. Jensen added to this working body of student-friendly literature with the highly anticipated, Caras vemos (corazones no sabemos). In this post, you will get to know Theresa, what compels her to write, and why you should get her new book! Best of all, she has just published a teacher’s manual, so if you are thinking about this book for a classroom novel, go for it! She’s got you covered!

This summer, I had the opportunity to speak withTheresa, and I learned that she is very letrada! She has been teaching for a total of 20 years! She currently teaches Spanish level 3. Her knowledge of curriculum spans the gamut, as she teaches in both the AP and IB programs. Adding to the mix of thematic and skill-based learning, she is celebrating her 10th year as a TPRS practitioner. The these experiences have enriched her grasp on language acquisition, and guided her on her first CI reader: Caras Vemos. See the transcript of our conversation below:

A.C: What is your favorite aspect of teaching with CI/TPRS? What changes have you seen when you started experimenting with this approach?

TJ: My relationship with my students is different than it ever has been, as the focus is on them. I feel like before I was more of a taskmaster, more focused on the curriculum. Now I am 100% about helping each individual student achieve his/her potential. I always wanted that, but the different methods brought about by CI-based instruction have helped me connect more with students and reach even my less invested students. My absolute favorite part about CI is the sheer JOY it brings to my classroom.

A.C: Do you have a favorite CI/TPRS resource?

TJ: Currently Señor Wooly is just about my favorite discovery.

A.C. Free Voluntary Reading has really taken off these last few years. I remember learning about it from Mike Peto, and although I was an author, at that point, I had only read some novels, both mine and others with my students and some short stories. I had not started with FVR reading. Once I did, I was amazed! What role has FVR reading have in your curriculum?

TJ: Last year I began a FVR program with my students. I was very concerned they would just pretend to read, but the research was so convincing, I had to try. I did everything I could to fund it. I wrote little books, printed free books online, and bought them with my own money. We did it once a week, and at first it was a little tough for some of my students. They had never read by themselves before. As the year went on, through observation and Google form surveys, I saw that their interest and confidence increased. They were so proud they were reading books all by themselves! They actually looked forward to reading! Then, I brought up the idea for Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, which I sponsor, to provide a mobile FVR library for our department (9 Spanish teachers). From the start, my colleagues began doing FVR with their classes for the first time, and their students loved it! The library is continually growing, and this year I have a mini library so we can do FVR more than once a week! It has been transformative!

A.C: That is so exciting!!!! Speaking of FVR, let’s talk about your new book, which I love by the way! I actually studied in Cuernavaca, and found the city and people to be very inviting. I love the compelling storyline, and the way the culture has been interwoven throughout the book. The artwork is so supportive of the story, which I love.

TJ: The title is “Caras vemos,” which is short for “Caras vemos, pero corazones no sabemos (or “faces we see, but hearts we don’t know)” explores the idea is that people are sometimes just not as they seem.

Synopsis: A girl wakes up in a park beaten and disoriented with no memory of who or where she is. Every face is unfamiliar, and all have a different story to tell. Who is the mysterious man? What happened to him? The more she learns, the less she knows what to believe or who to trust. The novel is set in beautiful Cuernavaca, known as the “city of eternal spring.” Cuernavaca is the capital of the state of Morelos, Mexico, just south of Mexico City. All of the places and businesses in this book are real. Experience everyday Mexican culture as the search for truth leads you around the city. Join her in a harrowing adventure to discover the secret of her past, and learn the meaning of “caras vemos, pero corazones no sabemos.” 

A.C: That is intense! Love it! For those teachers who will consider this amazing story as a class novel, what details could you give us to help them decide?

TJ:  This book is intended for novice high to Intermediate level Spanish students, so level 2-3. Word count is just under 8,000. There is a comprehensive glossary, as well as some small culture lessons, both integrated and in boxes on the side, throughout. Teachers can get the book in paperback on on kindle!

Get this amazing book on Amazon

Get the kindle version here

A.C: Why Cuernavaca?

TJ: I have a very strong connection with Cuernavaca, Mexico, the setting of the story. I have been to all the places in the story multiple times and am in love with the city. I have been happy, stressed, sad, annoyed, lost, scared, excited, enamored, in wonder, and I believe the characters experience all of these emotions too! 

A.C: I have to ask, what motivated you to start writing?

TJ: I’ve always written stories for my students, but never thought about publishing before. Inspiration just struck the end of June! A while back, I began learning Italian off and on just in free time, and after a year of reading when my students did FVR, I thought hmmmm I should practice what I preach! I then bought my first intermediate novel in Italian, “Il segretto di Julia.” I began reading and liked how mysterious it was. It was a first person perspective and only told you enough to intrigue you, but not enough to really know what was going on. I only read one chapter before I put it down to flesh out an idea I had for my own story. I later read the rest of it and I highly recommend it! My book is actually nothing like it, but it inspired a book I am very proud of! Two of my students contacted me about something else and I said hey, want to read a book I wrote? They did and loved it! my favorite message that one (Grant) sent was this:

Shook” lol! I love it! He also wrote the following:

A.C: I love to get messages like this! They really affirm what we’re doing as teachers and writers.

Teachers, thank your for checking out this post and reading about Caras vemos, the debut title from Theresa Jensen. Please check out this book, and don’t just take my word for it, look at the reviews! Also, Theresa’s daughter designed the cover and interior art. I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t wait for another book by Theresa.

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If you want to learn more about Free Voluntary Reading, check out these podcasts and websites below!

Stephen Krashen Free Voluntary Reading
Mike Peto My Generation of Polyglots

Pleasure Reading Ebook by Mike Peto

Señora B Free Voluntary Reading

Inspired Proficiency Podcast with A.C.Quintero

The Role of Reading in the World Language Classroom Podcast by Becky Morales

Back-to-school Language Activities, Comprehensible Input, Movie talks, Spanish CI Readers, Spanish class

Animated Book Trailer And Movie Talk For The Spanish Level 1 Novel: La clase de confesiones.

Confesionista: Anyone who uses the novels “La clase de confesiones” or “La bella mentira” in class!

Confesionistas, this animated book trailer/ Movie Talk has been in the works for a very long time, and I am so excited to be finally launching it! I actually started this project one year ago, and have been so busy with so many other worthy projects (such as publishing El mensaje, and working to teaching materials for Las apariencias engañan, El armario, Las sombras, etc), that I had to put this on the back burner! However, this summer, like many of you all, I was able to settle down, and bring this beautiful project to a close (well, open it for you!). This new resource can be used by ANYONE!. If you have been using La clase de confesiones series with your level 1 or two, this will be a perfect addition! If you are not familiar with the series, but are INTRIGADO BY the animated book trailer, you can use it as a Movie Talk as all the supporting materials are directly related to the video.

What is the animated book trailer about?

This animated book trailer is an introduction to the novel,”La clase de confesiones.” It sets up the major events, that are central to the storyline. For example, we see Carlos going to school, talking to señor Martín, not having his homework (too busying thinking about Jessica) and realizing that he is head over heels for Jessica (spoiler alert, if you haven’t read the book). The narration ( done by Diego Cuadro) is well-paced. Additionally, you gave access a plethora of activities to help bring this resource to life in your classroom. These resources will provide students ample practice with commonly used structures, school vocabulary, and clothing It is also wildly entertaining!.

OMG, I am starting La clase de confesiones tomorrow, how do I get this resource?

¡Tú tranquil@! There are two ways of accessing the video and all the accompanying materials.

1. If you have the teacher’s manual for “La clase de confesiones” you can just re-download (click here to access teaching material) the file from TPT or my website. The new materials have been added to that bundle.

2. If you don’t have the Teacher’s Manual, you can download the Bundle here.

3. The video is also free on Youtube!

How can this resource be used?

The animated book trailer/movie talk can be used as an introduction to the novel along with the following activities in the manual: Dos confesiones y una mentira, Confesiones. Teachers can use the new character descriptions activities post video as they will help to contextualize the characters a bit more. Or it can be used as a standalone activity. Let’s say that you haven’t even heard of this novel, but the video mola , well, you could simply use it in class as the materials are solely based on the video, and do not make a reference to the book. The 14 additional materials include another cute story about the main character.

Check it out!

Let’s Take A Look

There are 14 activities total. You can click here to read the list of descriptions and to download the preview for on TeachersPayTeachers. The activities range from circling questions, matching activities, pictures/descriptions activity and a new short story: La casa de confesiones. There is also an informational article about wearing uniformes in school in Latin America.

Are you new to the world of “Los confesionistas?” Check out the synopsis below!

Carlos hates Spanish class with a passion but finds the will to survive when he lays eyes on Jessica. She is the reason he “tolerates” his boring class. However, his secret crush is compromised when his teacher decides to “shake things up a bit” in class. A simple writing assignment turns out to be a lethal injection to his social life and by extension his chances with Jessica. First, his nosy teacher tries to “set him up with Jessica,” this plan immediately backfires. Then, the unthinkable happens and Carlos is stunned. This turns into one of the most embarrassing moments in his life. But all is not lost. If Carlos plays his cards right, he could have a winning hand. Carlos invites you to come along on this adventure into “La clase de confesiones” where…”todos tienen una confesión,” even the teacher!

La bella mentira (Yes, there is as sequel)

The second book in the series can be read as stand-alone…saving the best for last! Click here for preview.

Carlos is having a bad day, and it’s about to get worse. He leaves Spanish class utterly embarrassed.  He had no idea that the teacher was going to partner him up with Jessica, the girl he actually writes about in his class essay. Adding insult to injury, the teacher reads his essay in front of the class, even the mean-spirited things he wrote about his teacher. After running into a few more problems in math class, he is faced with the big showdown in the lunchroom. Now, Carlos is between *”la espada y la pared.” However, a short story in Spanish class may hold the key to all of his problems, and may ultimately lead to his biggest confession of all. Find out in part 2! 

Where can I get the book? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Novels and Resources by A.C. Quintero

Amazon

Fluencymatters.com

Brycehedstrom.com

Teachersdiscovery.com

Carlex

Updates With Other Books and New Resources!

Back-to-school Language Activities, Changing Seats, Comprehensible Input, Movie talks

5 Ways to Use Authentic Realia in the World Language Classroom; You’ll Be Surprised by How Simple This Is!


Teachers have a very special skill set when it comes to up-cycling. Where our non-teaching buddies see an old shoe box, we see a diamond in the rough: that shoe box could be used to create a dynamic diorama! 


And up-cycling has it “upsides”. We contribute to the environment why providing a new use of for an old product. That is divergent thinking (we’re all going to be CEOs one day)! This post is just about that: making use of items we’ve may have garnered during our summer vacations.

I usually curate a TON of postcards (as well as museums programs) when I am abroad. On my last trips to Spain and Mexico, I have a lot of postcards that feature breathtaking views, and can also give students algo de qué hablar. I realize that these trinkets could could give me a lot of mileage out of everyday classroom functions. Let’s take a look at how we could use these items to make interesting any classroom activity.

Using Postcards (or other authentic realia) for Changing Seats & Speaking Activities

I get a lot of mileage out of these postcards. Last year, I decided to laminate them to childproof them. I had bought a laminator on Amazon for $24.99 and the thermal sheets were 100 for $10. Although we have a laminator at school, I bought my own, por si acaso…


I used these postcards for two main activities:

  • speaking activities.
  • changing seats: I never have a method for changing seats, so this -postcard activity helped a lot because students love receiving things. They are curious and visual.

I usually get 4-5 copies of the same postcards, dole them out to students and they sit next to someone with the same postcard. You can always limit your variety as well. If you haven’t traveled abroad, you can get postcards from your town, or printout places, and or landmarks from the target culture. 

Using Postcards To Engender Diversity and Balance In Class

In the classroom, we want to provide meaningful input, but we also want to students be able to use the language they are acquiring. Postcards (or something similar) provide a great way of getting students into groups and making sure those groups are as diverse as possible.  

I learned something very valuable about my students a few years back. While discussing the role of appearances in choosing a friend (part of our Identity Unit), some students were disgusted by the article’s suggestion that “they choose friends based on appearances.” I said, “well, let’s get into groups to discuss.” They all got into groups. Before they could discuss the article, I had them pause and look around. I asked them “how many of your group members look like you?” They were floored! Point taken, and they disbanded and found people who were different from them. Remember, different can be race, personality, etc. 

To avoid this scenario, I pass out the cards and have them get into the group. This helps a great deal because: 

  • I don’t have to announce “Find someone different” this would make the poor kid whose different feel a little awkward 
  • The pressure is off the teacher
  • Students will have an opportunity to meet other and build relationships with other students (takes the onus off of them as well!). 

 First-week activities for intermediate students:  Introduce yourself to someone with the same card! 

No one wants to go up to a stranger and introduce themselves! We all need excuses to do the things we want to do. Isn’t that the reason behind speed-dating? Well, you can accomplish the same thing with help from an item such as postcards. 

When I didn’t know any better (three years ago), I’d project a prompt and tell students “Go meet someone around the class!” I really thought, “Wow, this is great!” Meanwhile, the students were terrified. Now, when we do introductions (I feel like I am selling some kind of infomercial at 2 in the morning here, this little activity really helped to strengthen my routines), they get a card and they are working their way around the class, collecting information and getting to know their classmates, all the while seeing some interesting sites!\

Mix it Up!

  • For lower-level classes use postcards (or similar activity) to talk about colors. 
  • Students can also talk about the postcard, especially if there are interesting pictures! 
  • For upper-level classes, students can say they’d like to go, and why. They can also say they had visited and the things that they saw. 
  • Postcards make very good Picture Talks in any travel unit. 

Use as a circumlocution challenge! 

One word that my students know more than any other words is “circumlocution.” They know that when they don’t know a word or have forgotten it, they navigate the known words in their vocabulary and they “make it work.” I have heard some create a combination with circumlocutory attempts. Culture realia and be used as a fun challenge to win extra points or however you want to structure it. 

  • Give a student one of the postcards or picture 
  • They have 30 seconds to describe it to class
  • Group student according to different cards and have each one talk about their card in their group. 
Comprehensible Input, Word Walls

The Writing on the Wall: The Role of Word Walls in a Comprehension-based Classroom

During my last full day classes, students had an opportunity to share about their top five lessons and activities of the school year. Of course, they raved about Free Voluntary Reading (click here to read post), the Telenovela project, Conversation Circle the assortment of level 1 readers we explored, and of course, the Netflix mystery, El gran hotel. However, when given the opportunity to ask about their upcoming Spanish II class, I was surprised that they weren’t as concerned about “leveling up” as were their predecessors in the previous years. They were more curious about the class itself as a few students asked: “Will there be “Word Walls” in Spanish II?” 

As a former colleague shared with me years ago, “Our classroom walls should be like Hogwarts in where the walls actually speak to the children.” She was a fourth grade teacher, whose classroom caught the eye of our district administrator. Needless to say that she’s now coaching and training teachers full-time. And her point was well taken; the learning environment needs to serve the needs of our students. 

Argentine Street Art

I put her advice into practice last school year, when I noticed that my classroom walls were littered with posters, cliché decorations, and outdated student work; I made giving my class a facelift, a reigning priority. I had to nip, cut, and tuck to engineer an environment that would have an impact on student learning. I ordered verb posters (Teacher’s Discovery), downloaded question words from the TPRS website, and curated a bevy of teacher created materials from TPT (I have some more in my cart for next year!). I can testify that those aesthetic changes proved to be a HUGE practical help to my students. They relied on these “talking walls” to assist them through interpersonal speaking tasks, and presentational writing. I can’t believe that I went so many years without having this compensatory aid for students. We have to do our best to surround learners with the language.

 Since all the the teachers in my department made a similar shift last year to cultivate an “acquisition friendly learning environment”, I was able to affirm with confidence, “Yes, there will be Word Walls!

Comprehensible Input, Spanish CI Readers, Spanish class

Miguel tiene que estudiar: The Perfect Digital Resource For Spanish 1!

I discovered the story, “Miguel tiene que estudiar” (available on TPT) last year with my Spanish 1 students. They absolutely loved it. The raved about it for ever! As I read each slide to them, each fragment of the story was met with visceral reactions as this the main character prioritizes playing games over learning. Then, he disrespected his teacher, which garnered stares (some high-fives) because they know they could not talk like that to me! The story is cute, compelling and comprehensible, but most important it is relatable: a kid who does not like to study but rather play games. What a concept!

Click here for more resources by Spanish Plans!

For context, I have Spanish I class three classes a week for 48 minutes (Spanish IV on the other days).

This year, since we have been online, I decided to reinstitute the story. I worried about reading it online because with the mute function, I would hear the spectrum of their reaction. But as always, I had a plan for that too! I ended up making this story into the week’s lesson, here is how I used it and it went beautifully. This resource was easily adapted to the online platform. Here is what I approached it:

This was a fun activity! You can get this story on Teacherspayteachers.com. It is by Spanishplans.

Other stories on the topic of school

  1. Picture talk- this is a CI staple in the classroom and is just as versatile online.
    • For every mini-activity (such as picture talk), I assign questions. I normally single out 3-5 students (beforehand). I let them know that they are going to respond to the following questions about the picture projected on the screen:
    • ¿Cómo se llama el estudiante?
    • ¿Dónde está?
    • ¿Qué tiene que hacer el estudiante?
    • ¿Cuál es el conflicto?
    • ¿Qué juego le gusta jugar?
    • ¿Qué juego te gusta jugar?
    • ¿Lo juegas todos los días?
    • ¿Qué es más importante, jugar o estudiar?
    • ¿Cuántas horas al día se debe jugar los videojuegos?
  2. I read the first 4 slides of the story and asked students questions. They then had to read the rest of the story and respond to these comprehension questions first. The next day, we did the Conversation Circle. I wanted them to understand the story and feel confident in responding, which is why I gave them the comprehension questions first.
  3. The next class, we had conversation circle: I asked students these questions for the Conversation Circle. It went pretty smooth.
  4. Comparison: Miguel y yo (this activity was the last question on the comprehension questions). Students compared themselves with Miguel. No surprise here, they all prefer playing video games to studying!

I love using resources from Spanish Plans. You can check out their store of compelling imput here! Spanishplans.org or Spanish Plans Resources on TPT

Other short stories exploring school topics can found below:

Dreaming In Spanish Bundles

Mi colegio ideal

¿Quién es la chica nueva en la escuela (dialogue with pictures)?

En la papelería

Gracias

El bolígrafo

En la cafetería

La nueva estudiante

Identity,, Remote Learning World Language, Spanish class

Fridalicious: Spanish Mini-unit On The Art and Life of Frida Kahlo

(Jump to the bottom of the page to see the second installment)

I will use this space to share my approach to our Frida unit during remote learning. I will update this blog with activities every week until the unit has concluded. To get these updates, you can follow this blog, or follow me on social media!

Instagram: a.c.quintero

Twitter: Klasekastellano

Facebook: A.C. Quintero/ Teaching Spanish Made Easy

Since teaching remotely, I have had to really hone my creative skills much like the rest of you. Finding ways to engage students, making learning meaningful, not necessarily fun, but interesting has been my quest for these last few weeks; and I might have figured some valuable lessons with this unit. My colleagues and I pulled teamed up to make this unit happen, and it has been nothing short of amazing. We curated, created and collaborated fiercely in order to make learning about Frida fortuitous and enduring. I will be sharing some of the activities related to this project.

In terms of my colleagues work on this project, I will only share the public websites and domains used, not the actually activities that they have developed. However, I am free to share my contributions to the unit and my take on some of the work we mastered, so please enjoy!

¡Hola, Guapa!

One of my favorite activities to do is to prime students for new concepts. This involves accessing and collectively building prior and/or active knowledge together; this in turns eases the cognitive burden and frees up space to accommodate those new nuggets of knowledge. To prime students for our remote learning Frida unit, first, I gauged their opinions on the world of art. Students were tasked to think about the nature of art including but not excluding the following prompts: What is art? Can all forms of expression be categorized as art? Is graffiti art? You can download this free starter activity here.

Las citas fridianas

The second wave of engagement was actually reading quotes from Frida’s life (which is also included in this free resource). Included in the resource above are famous quotes spoken by Frida during her lifetime. We analyzed, discussed, and reflected about her about her philosophy of life. They also commented on which quote resonated with them. Extension activity?

Virtual Tour of La Casa Azul

My stellar colleague unearthed this free virtual tour of La Casa Azul. It was the perfect prelude to our unit. The 3D tour allows us to peer in every corner of the Frida museum. Now, students have an opportunity to see how this vivacious, colorful, and pioneering artist lived. We gave students 20 minutes to explore the house on their own and write & record their impressions in Spanish. Click here to for the tour!

El arte sin límites

Arte sin límites, is a short text that I wrote about Frida years ago, and never had the will to finish it. However, when we could not use the Frida books for remote learning, I quickly dug it up, added some research from from the plethora of my Frida collection, sent it my friend and collaborator in Spain, and viola! We used it in my classroom. The goal of this text is to give students a fuller view of Frida, her life and artwork. The text is about 4 pages, and highlights the basics of her life and artwork. This paid resource is the extension of the free resource above and includes with comprehension questions and an art analysis activity. I supplemented the reading with two clips of Frida’s life from Youtube. I wanted to give students an aerial view of her accident and how crippling it was to her person, but at the same time how this awful event transformed her into one of the most pioneering artists of her time incapable of being pigeon-hold and steadying blazing new trails paved with authenticity and cultural homage.


These resources, clips, and quotes prepared us for the next step in the journey, sponsored by Vogue, the Las apariencias engañan Exhibit. Another great find from my colleague! I will discuss how I used this in my class and a mini-project that I am conjuring up to rematarlo!

Las apariencias engañan: Los vestidos de Frida is our next stop on the Fridalicous tour.

This striking exhibit whose themes are Disability and ethnicity invites viewers into to contemplate the intricate wardrobe of Frida Kahlo. She was an artistic enigma in and of herself. Some of the enduring lessons for my students were the semiotic meanings imbued in their clothing and how her wardrobe was carefully suited to mask her disability.  Below the recap, you can find some of the activities that I did in class. 

Start Class With A Bang!

The Wounded Table

The week prior (see the information above this post), we started talking about Frida, using her quotes, reading about her life, and this week it was all about delving more deeply into her paintings, and using authentic resources, like the Las apariencias engañan Exhibit, to showcase her in her fullest glory. But, before we landed in the virtual wardrobe museum we did a little recon on our fav artist.

I used this painting of  “The Wounded Table”as a bell-ringer. I had students observe the painting and list all the elements they observed. I gave them a few minutes to think about it and maybe even look up word they had forgotten how to say.  Initiated this task with this question: ¿Cuáles son los elementos que te llaman la atención en esta pintura? Students used the starter phrase, “Yo veo” and continued to list off those bold features that stood out. Asking then them to only list what they observed, relieved the pressure of having to conjure up answers for this dynamic and multi-thematic piece. I gave them an access pass, invite them in, and to require little in the beginning and then build up.   Below is a compilation of some of the elements they noticed right away: 

  1. Frida está en el centro
  2. Hay niños
  3. Sus manos no son sus manos
  4. Hay un esqueleto
  5. Vemos que hay partes de la naturaleza
  6. La pintura está un poco oscura/ no brillante
  7. Hay sangre
  8. El telón corrido
  9. Hay un venado 

Naturally, since we read this article about Frida and previously analyzed her paintings, many students started to see a pattern emerge. I then asked then to make sense of those elements, what could they possible mean. I started first with Frida being in the middle and part of the artistic universe she so vividly paints. I told them that they could use what they knew about her to attempt to make connections. 

After hearing them, I asked them probing questions. For example, when on student said “hay niños” I asked, what could this mean? Another student chimed in saying that Frida couldn’t have niños, so maybe those are the kids she wanted to have. Another student also shared that she used to read to the kids in the neighborhood, so maybe it could be those kids. I then offered that the children could also be a dream that was never fulfilled as they are not central to the painting as other elements such as the skeleton. This gave them a boost, and they started feeling more comfortable (I took about 20 minutes before class to look at the painting myself and make notes).

Then,  I went through their responses one by one adding to the symbolic meaning they’d mention. We had a discussion in which they linked the previous events they had learned about with her life. The interpretation is below (excuse any errors as my Spanish is not perfect). 

  1. Frida está en el centro del cuadro. Ella es el enfoque central. Es un autoretrato con los elementos oníricos (they learned this word!) que siempre son presentes en su vida. Ella les da visibilidad.
  2. Los niños pueden significar la inocencia o falta de ella. También, por la mirada que tienen, pueden representar la curiosidad. Están al lado de la mesa, lo cual sugiere una distancia de Frida y lejos de las cosas que amenazan su vida.  De pronto, están a salvo de la muerte que la rodea. 
  3. El venado representa la vulnerabilidad. Ya hemos visto el venado como motivo en otra pintura.  
  4. El esqueleto representa la muerte y cómo siempre se le acecha. Ella vive con la muerte y no la teme. La acepta como parte de su mundo. Baila con ella. Partes de su cuerpo se funden con otras entidades. Esta parte se le atribuye a que su propio cuerpo tiene fusiones metales. 
  5. La naturaleza el verdor del campo, pero está consumido por el panorama gris. Prefiere las nubes y no hay sol. 
  6. La sangre representa la vida. 
  7. El telón corrido de modo que se puede ver todo, es sinónimo cómo nuestras vidas pueden ser producto del consumo público (on display). 

There are so many more rich elements that can be extrapolated, but this activity’s purpose was to empower students in thinking about how they could, based on their present knowledge, understand a little bit about Frida. 

Video of Frida 

This video served as a good introduction to the exhibit referred to at the bottom.  I had students watch and share one thing that they learned. They could share in Spanish or in English. 

https://www.vogue.mx/multimedia/video/moda/videos/documental-los-vestidos-de-frida-kahlo-el-inicio-de-la-leyenda/539

The exhibit, as one could imagine, is very extensive. We had students look at the first six pictures, read and then respond to questions. 

https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/las-apariencias-enga%C3%B1an/6gICPDLcNAzkJA?hl=es

We had students read about 5-6 of the slides from the exhibit and respond to the questions below.

  1. How did Frida’s choice of clothing suit her physical condition? 
  2. How did Frida use her clothing to make a statement? What was the declaration that those clothes articulated? 
  3. Discuss the diversity of her wardrobe.  
  4. How is her wardrobe different from yours? 

Extension activity

Have students take a picture of their wardrobe, or 3- 4 outfits and accessories and discuss their preferences, and why they choose to dress a certain way. 

Check out the website here!

Next week, I will share out Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe Comparison activity.

Uncategorized

Virtual Special Person Interview : Remote Learning Edition

Special Person’s Interview, made popular by Bryce Hedstrom, is one of my favorite activities to do with students. I usually implement this CI rich, get-to-know you strategy at the beginning of the year while building community; then I recycle it throughout many units where students’ lives and interests can further unfold. The purpose of this activity is to get to know other people, their interests, passions etc. Usually, I am at the helm of the conversation, asking all the questions; however, last week, tables were slightly turned. I did a guest author appearance to Sra. Hendrix’s Spanish class. I was their ” persona especial virtual.  This post sums up my experience being the “persona especial” as well as offer ideas about how YOU can use an activity like this to liven up virtual classes, provide critical input, and give your students a unique experience.

I Love When Events Unfold Organically

I had the pleasure of crashing Ms. Hendrix’s upper-level Spanish class and being interviewed by her amazing and well-prepared students! Best of all, neither one of us had actually planned this!

One week prior to our interview, she had posted puppets of characters in the level 1 school crush- gone- awry novel “La clase de confesiones.” I was as intrigued by the lesson as I was impressed with her artistic skills and creativity. She was doing a virtual puppet show for students! She had used the paper puppets to review the novel, and I couldn’t think of a better way to engage students.

Sra. Hendrix’s Puppet Show

I commented on her FB post and shared it with my followers as this was a great activity that teachers could do with any novel, at any level. However, our message exchange did not stop there. The next day, I received a second message from Sra. Hendrix about another book of mine that her students had enjoyed. At this point, I was like, “I have to meet these students!” With permission from her students, she sent me the pictures below of them reading and drawing out different scenes from the level 3 thriller “El escape.”

El Parque de Los Perros

Well, as most of you know “El escape” is one of my favorite novels as it explores the dangers of social media and technology among teens. Since she raved about her students’ excitement for reading the novel, I offered to drop by before my class; she gladly extended the invitation. 

In just a few days, her students were able to compose questions about the novel, the nature of writing, my long term goals, and professions; and their questions were deep! They asked me about my inspiration for my novels and I, of course, spilled the beans! I told them about my crazy teachers and classmates from middle school who were reincarnated as characters in the book, mixed in with my experience as a teacher. I really appreciated the time that Sra. Hendrix took to coach them on questions. They were organized, direct, and I was such a great experience for me to see students so passionate about learning another language, and so respectful of my work. I also want to give a shoutout to Sra. Hendrix and her approach to the interview. If any teacher is interested in having a guest speaker, the items below can help you organize it so that it’s worthwhile for all participants.

1. There was a class ambassador. She introduced herself and the class and gave me an overview of what they were going to ask. 

2. Each student had a prepared question, and each of those questions were well-crafted (there was also a document with questions so I could look at that as well).

3. They asked a wide range of questions. I thought they were only going to ask about the book, but they actually inquired about my lifelong goals and where I saw myself in the next 5 years. That was profound! I love how they connected this interview to what they were currently learning. 

Overall, I had a great time connecting with Ms. Hendrix, an awesome educator on the East Coast and her students. Her love for teaching and great relationships with students was extremely palpable and I had a great time! 

You can hear the interview here if you like, these kids were amazing!

More about “La clase de confesiones”

See animated book Trailer here

Carlos hates Spanish class with a passion but finds the will to survive when he lays eyes on Jessica. She is the reason he “tolerates” his boring class. However, his secret crush is compromised when his teacher decides to “shake things up a bit” in class. A simple writing assignment turns out to be a lethal injection to his social life and by extension his chances with Jessica. First, his nosy teacher tries to “set him up with Jessica,” this plan immediately backfires. Then, the unthinkable happens and Carlos is stunned. This turns into one of the most embarrassing moments in his life. But all is not lost. If Carlos plays his cards right, he could have a winning hand. Carlos invites you to come along on this adventure into “La clase de confesiones” where…”todos tienen una confesión,” even the teacher!

More about “El escape”

Can an obsession with technology, turn deadly? Well, these techy teens are about to find out. Federico and his friends have an insatiable desire to “capture” and “record” every memorable moment. However, not all memories are created equal, and these boys are about to discover this harsh reality. Against the advice of a town elder, these thrill-seeking “know-it-all” teenagers set out to film their usual pranks and upload them to Youtube…and they won’t get the last laugh. They stumble upon an incident that has the hashtag #danger, written all over it. Anxious to add to their video repertoire, they press record. Now they’ve become the ”victims” of a new crime thriller. There is no turning back. Federico and his friends must outsmart the bad guys, get “deleted” forever.

Novel by A.C. Quintero Catalog

Novel and Resources by A.C. Quintero

Books on Amazon

Remote Learning World Language

Remote Learning Crisis-Response Toolbox: Teachers Are The True Heroes in This Story!

Check out this webinar on Youtube! More examples!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ulVtZAIK9c 

Before we get started, please pat yourself on the back because you are an awesome educator who curated resources, transformed your house into a learning center for your kids and someone’s in a matter of days.

With regards to remote learning, I have realized that we are all operating on 60% battery life. We are drained from the stresses that the stay-at-home order has placed on our families, routines, and incomes. I set out from the beginning to approach my new found reality in the simplest terms possible, and below I have listed some crisis-response curricular shifts that have been working for me (I also recorded a webinar earlier this week with Teacher’s Discovery on this very topic, check it out): 

  1. Mental Jedi trick: Adjust the dial on your expectations! The lower they are, the less frustrated you will be when things don’t line up! On my first day engaging students, I expected everything to go wrong from students not knowing how to mute to audio, to being flooded with extraneous sounds, etc. I pictured myself as one of the trauma doctors on Grey’s anatomy, trying to crike a patient and while simultaneously performing chest compressions (and blood squirting all everywhere. Sorry for the vivid imagery here). Establishing this mental disposition beforehand, or even giving in a bit to my “Negative bias” made me happier in the end. The first week, I was able to celebrate the little victories, which made me more pleasant to deal with. 
  1. Stretch between breaks. Sitting for too long makes you even more tense. If possible, take a one minute stretch break. This helps me to relieve the pressure, inject a change of pace ( below we’ll talk about planning in such a way that you’re able to do this). In fact, I am so good at stretching my back now that I might not go back to my chiropractor once the stay-at-home order is lifted.  

Managing The Workload

3. Break assignments down into manageable chunks. Don’t try to go all out or make this tantamount to your “in-class experience; it’s not and the quicker you realize this (managing expectations), the better off you will be.

I assign one big assignment every three days, and students complete only a portion (of the assignment) at a time (one a day).  For example, my level 1 students will be reading a story about their ideal school. Their big assignment is the read an article excerpt from “Qué Tal: Una clase diferente.” Being mindful of their schedules and maybe even new found responsibilities, I endeavor to lighten the load just enough to keep them engaged, afloat, and racking up quick-wins as well. I give only a third of assignments or activities that I would give under normal circumstances.  Below is what my schedule looks like:  

A :Day 1 students are doing pre-vocabulary work for the article they’ll read. Define words, create sentences, share out in the meeting.

B: Day 2: They will read the article. I read the first page to them, asked questions and then had them finish reading and annotating offline. We rejoined and discussed the words, the article, and some characteristics about the class.

C: Day 3. They’ll answer the questions. I give them class time for this. We are all on the platform muted with cameras off.

Other ideas: 

1. Provide a daily prompt or students to journal about. 

2. Provide them with a picture to describe, or a video.

3. Invite someone to your class for students to interview- I did this today with a class who read “La clase de confesiones” and “El escape.” I spent 10 minutes talking to them and they had good questions about the books, my life, and dreams. It was great! You can do this as well. Use your FB community!

4. Make ample time to describe the activity. Provide examples if possible. 

5. Model with students during screen share.

How am I structuring my online classes? 

1. Mood-meter check-in. I have students write in the Google chat (Google Meet) one word describing how they feel. I also use Profe Pistole mood-metered pictures. Students can readily access their mood. Click here for the emotion words with the sloth. Click here for the llama pictures.

2. Since everyone is watching television, I have them describe one series or show they watched using the past tense (level 1). I provide them with the sentence stem in the Google chat. You can use a PPT, but I am really trying to keep it simple.

3. I will introduce the assignment to them. I share my screen and read the directions. I assign students to ask me questions- this is helpful! 

4. I give them 15-20 minutes to do the assignment. I have them mute their mics and turn off their cameras. I do the same. The chat feature is open so I am responding to questions. 

5. We reconvene and I have a few of them share out. I usually call on people. It has been working thus far. 

This has been very breathable schedule and I am able to answer questions and give them space to work.   They don’t feel overwhelmed afterwards. 

What are some ways in which you are making this work for you? Let me know!

If you haven’t downloaded my free resource, get it here! Animated book trailer for “La clase de confesiones” with activities. You don’t need to have the book to do the activity. This resource will be free throughout April. Also, check out the COVID-19 WL thread on Facebook. There are tons of free resources!

Remote Learning Decoded: How To Stay Afloat When Going Remote (Webinar Series)!

Check out my store for good quality materials that  can enrich the remote learning curriculum 

Let’s keep in touch. 

Spanish CI Readers, Spanish class

FREE VOLUNTARY READING RELOADED: READING TO ACQUIRE

Over the past couple of years independent reading in the world language classroom, or Free Voluntary Reading (FVR), Free Choice Reading (FCR), Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), has become more prevalent as more teachers tap into the power of reading, and witness the fruitful results. Years ago, I learned the importance of Free Voluntary Reading from Mike Peto on his blog, My Generation of Polyglots. Mike made a compelling case for reading, in addition to providing teachers with tried-and-tested ideas and scaffolds. Likewise, Justin from Spanish plans is also a huge proponent of this acquisition-friendly practice. In addition to his stories that highlight targeted vocabulary, he has developed many strategies that keep his students focused. Justin has also influenced me a great deal in bringing FVR to my level 1 students in the first semester. I am so glad I followed his advice, and the fruits of his mentorship can be gleaned in this present post. You can listen to my interview about Free Voluntary Reading & Beyond on Inspired Proficiency Podcast by Ashley Uyaguari (Click here to listen to interview ).

Before we delve into Free Voluntary Reading activities that can GALVANIZE  your class, I’d like to share the incredibly valuable benefits that this practice has afforded by students:  

Differentiation & Personalized Learning

1. Free Voluntary Reading is both differentiated and personalized learning. Students get to choose books whose covers, topics, and/ or storylines interest them. They are also encouraged to choose books that are at their level, which is a segue to my next point: FVR is a confidence booster.

Confidence Booster

2. Reading time has been a huge confidence builder for my students. Most of my students who had been walking around with the “I am bad at Spanish” luggage, suddenly found a place in class. I saw their writing grow at the same rate as their confidence, and they really enjoyed the class.

Cultural Learning

3. Free Voluntary Reading also affords students to learn about different places, cultures, and the hardships of the people without direct instruction. My students learned about the effects of the hurricane María, from “La madre perfecta” by Rachel Emery. They learned about “La isla peligrosa” in Uruguay by John Sifert. They traveled to Argentina, and peered into the past with “Secretos” by Jennifer Degenhardt, while also learning about the plight of Transgender teens. They gained insights about aspects of Colombia culture & teen-friendly themes about relationships in “Papacito” by Craig Klein from Spanishcuentos.com and “Cómo salir de la zona de amigos” by A.C. Quintero.

Free Voluntary Reading Social: Making Reading Enjoyable  

This year when I introduced Free Voluntary Reading into my level 1 class, I was reluctant to do so for the following reasons:

  • Had we done enough reading for them to be able to handle a novel? We had not read our first novel, which is usually, La clase de confesiones that ties into our School & Relationships unit, then followed by Agentes secretos, a book about Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece: Guernica. I felt that students needed to read both novels as a class first prior to “reading on their own.” Justin from Spanishplans.org  was quick to point out my “logical fallacy.” He demanded I do it and do it fast. So I obliged.

How I Got Started

I ordered books from both established companies such as Fluency Matters, Teacher’s Discovery as well as really compelling reads by Indie Authors. Click here to see the list of compelling Indie books.

Once I got my library going for my level 1 students, we dove right into FVR! If you don’t have the budget to get novels, consider getting short stories from a variety of sources online. Many teachers have really affordable stories (self-included) in their TPT stores. I have included some of those links below:

ReadtospeakSpanish

Stories by A.C. Quintero

Señorita Ashley

First Time FVR-ing in level 1

Since my library is color-coded. I grabbed all the yellow-dotted books, that were conducive to level 1 in my class.  I allowed students to browse the collection. Afterward,  I did the following:  

Students browsing the books
  • Explained to them that we were going to be reading their chosen book during our “sesíon literaria.”
  • I read the first two pages to them and then proceeded to ask questions. Since I had a lot of copies of “Brandon Brown Quiere Un Perro” by Carol Gabb, to give them an instant confidence boost (they understood everything). See Video below:
  • I had them read in pairs; both students choose the same books and sat down to read.

How did they read in pairs?

I tried to give students space and different options. I also wanted to make sure that the reading was not stale, and that they had a chance to really talk about what they had read. We read for a total of 30 minutes (we have 90 block-periods, and I interspersed this time with activities).

Activities while reading:

1. Take turns reading aloud to your partner.  

2. The partner then summarizes in English what was read (thy implemented this comprehension-checking strategy one paragraph at a time). MY NEWEST STRATEGY IS HAVING THEM SHARE OUT IN CLASS. IT IS PRETTY SIMPLE. THEY READ FOR 6-8 MINUTES, THEN SHARE SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED IN THE STORY. MY RUBRIC IS A NO-BRAINER:

0- points for not sharing (students get multiple opportunities during class to share. They don’t have to share only during FVR)

1- point for sharing verbatim from the book

2- points for summarizing what you’ve read.

The sharing can be as simple as “Camden está en un avión y hay una explosión” – La isla más peligrosa by John Sifert.

4. Read for 10 additional minutes, and then tell the class about what you read (this was a whole class book talk).

During this time, I walked around the class and heard students making comments about the books:

“ I feel so smart, can’t believe I am reading in Spanish”

“I can literally understand everything”

“This book is crazy, they’re stuck on an island!”

After reading, we huddled up in a circle, and each person shared something from their book. I knew that the next time we did FVR, I wanted to ask students to share more, however, this first go was an exercise in getting their feet wet. When sharing as a class, I did notice that students were using new words they had just encountered in the book. One student talking about his book had told the class that “El padre muere.” I inquired further but did not think he was going to tell me the cause of death in Spanish, but he responded to my question saying, “El padre se muere de diabetes.” Another student commenting on a character in her book said: “Ella no tiene mucho dinero y no puede comer chocolate”, etc. I felt like my first FVR in level 1 was a resounding success!

Second Time Is A Charm!

The second time we did FVR, I taught them literary elements so they could talk about the characters, places, and general conflict/problem in the story. I have them do the same time as before:

  • They had 10 minutes to read, and then they did “read & discuss.”
  • The second 10 minutes they read and jotted down information to be shared in literature groups.

Literature Groups

Students could be in groups of no more than 4 people. Each person had to share about their book:

  • El personaje más importante es…
  • el problema es…)
  • El lugar de la acción
  • El personaje secundario


We had actually practiced with our class novel, “El Jersey.” Check out the demo above. In the second part of the video, you will see the students actually asking each other questions.

After literature circles, we reconvene as a group, and students share out as a class.

Assessment ideas

Discussing books read for FVR could totally be a valid speaking assessment! However, I would not assess students the first few times, as they are getting to know the characters, and getting comfortable with the books. Once students have finished their novels, the teacher may wish to do a Conversation Circle, similar to the one we did in Spanish IV below. Or, this could be a time to read and talk. You decide! Now, let’s take a look at how my FVR looked this year in my upper-level courses!

A Unit Around Reading


Last year, was my first time implementing FVR in my Spanish IV classrooms. Because the class was small and very close-knit, I knew that I had to add some social components to the reading (this is where I got the idea for level 1). So, I broke up the reading into 4 segments: 

  1. Choose a book- this was a very social time. They’d compare books and acted almost like an outlet for the more fidgety students.
  2. Sit in the hallway and read the book for 10 minutes- this was like going on a field trip. We have desks –parlimentary seating in our wing of the building so– so it was nice to change the scenery a bit.
  3. Talk to a partner about the book
  4. Read for 10-15 minutes/ share a passage from the book with another student.

I took a different path for my upper-level students with regards to FVR. Their language skills are more developed, they are more mature, and the discussion and writing are much deeper at the upper-level. I decided to make reading a book for FVR into a unit. In a nutshell, students chose a book, and they read it over 4-6 classes. I interspersed the readings with mini-discussions on the books (see packet questions), pop-up grammar lessons (imperfect subjunctive- connected to one of their questions). During each reading session, they respond to one of the questions.

My goals for implementing this unit were:

  • Introduce students to literature that was comprehensible and at their level
  • Develop a consistent habit of reading
  • Encourage students to use more complex structures of the target language
  • Be introduced to a variety of culture/teen perspectives
  • Discuss stories using proper literary elements

This unit would be a precursor to our next few units as they delve into our upcoming film unit.

Here is how I planned the unit:

  • I pre-determined the vocabulary words they’d need in order to discuss books/movies (plot, characters, twists, types of conflicts, etc).
  • These words were taught both explicitly & implicitly as most of them are cognates.
  • I provided them with a Quizlet list of the vocabulary words in Spanish and English. You can click on the list here: Quizlet vocabulary
  • I created this detailed reading log that was integrated into all further lessons. The reading log has six sections. Each section corresponded to an aspect of the book, each built on each other in terms of complexity. Click here for the Word Version
  • I choose an interesting book to read to the class to kick off our session, and then read that one chapter as the opening act. Last year it was, “Superburguesas” by Mike Peto, and they loved it. This year, I read “El armario” by A.C. Quintero, mainly because the sequel, “Las sombras,” was on the horizon and we’d go right into that! See sample schedule below: 

Day 1: Pick Out Your Book 

  • Read the chosen book to students. I have them listen and then summarize what they heard at the end with a partner. 
  • Allow time book browse. I placed books on my whiteboard ledge and new book rack. I gave them 10 minutes to look around, find a book, and then sit down with their packets. 
  • Write the title of the book and author. 
  • The first activity on the packet is to discuss the front cover of the book. The wrote why the choose the book, what caught their attention 
  • Optional: Students can share with others why they choose to book and make predictions
  • Read the first chapter of the book.

Day 2: Associating Literary Vocabulary 

  • Review Quizlet set for 15 minutes 
  • Mi Media Naranja Activity (doc will be linked). This is a vocabulary activity that I developed to help students think about the words, collaborate on co-constructing a definition, and matching words. 
  • Read for approximately 15-20 minutes 
  • Complete the first question on the reading log (Describe the first few scenes of the book/exposition)

Day 3: Read, Draw & Discuss 

  • Campanada: Choose one character from your book and discuss with a partner. 
  • Read for 15-20 minutes 
  • Draw what happens in the first few scenes of the book
  • Share in groups of 4 
  • Conversation Circle: Questions about setting & characters (emergent personality traits). 

Day 4: Reading & Chat Stations 

  • Station 1: Read through the uses of the past subjunctive (presentation online), and take notes. Complete “Subjunctive” activity sheet as for practice. Click here for the teacher’s author’s resources from TPT:
  • Station 2: Read selected novels for 10 minutes, responding to any pertinent questions
  • Stations 3: Work on “Imperfect Subjunctive Forms”: Click here for the Teacher author’s resource:
  • Station 4:  Unit vocabulary- a matching game
  • Station 5: Read book for 5 minutes, share for five minutes in a group
  • Station 6: Aunque Tu no Sepas

Day 5: Character Analysis 

  • Read for 20-25 minutes and write about the point of view, narrative style, main characters (dynamic/flat), and how they propel the narrative forward. 
  • Exit slip: Describe your character, and what hurdles they have to overcome. 
  • Internado 

Day 6: Developing A Creative Hook For Writing 

  • Read & finish the packet. Respond to questions about the conclusion and what you would have done if presented with the same situation as your characters. 
  • Class lesson: How to develop a creative hook. 
  • Write hooks, share with classmates. Think about: How can I make this more engaging? 
  • Mock conversation circle

Day 7: Book Report: I did not allow students to use notes.

Day 8: Conversation Circle (summative assessment)

  • Talk about your book

Day 9: Listening Audio (audio) & Listening activity 

 Check out the new novels for Spanish class!

Click here: https://goo.gl/JsKwM7

TPT Store!

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Comprehensible Input, Spanish CI Readers

Flipping The Script: CI Novels in French and Spanish by Author Terri Marrama

I had the privilege of speaking to yet another CI author, who is flipping the script in Spanish and in French! Theresa Marrama is a French CI teacher, who has been working with authors such as Jennifer Degenhardt and A.C. Quintero on adapting their books from Spanish to French. What I did not know, is that Terri had some compelling stories herself! She debuted her first novel last year, Une obsession dangereuse, available at fluencymatters.com. Her debut novel was the first, but not the last we’ve heard from her. Her quill has not gone dry; this year has seen a record number of books from Terri in both Spanish, and French. And, watch out German teachers, she is also coming for your classroom library as well! Check out her author’s page here, to see for yourself.

Who is Theresa Marrama?

Theresa Marrama is a dynamic French teacher who has been in the trenches for more than 11 years. She has been holding down the fort, teaching French in Northern New York. Her students span from levels 1 to 4, from grades 7 to 11. Three years ago, Terri took another bold step in her teaching career (teaching is the first!), she joined the Comprehensible Input (CI) corps of teachers; she’s a been a fierce advocate of the approach. This year, she went from practitioner to literary contributor, as you will see as your read on!

Reading As The Cornerstone

Like most CI teachers, her favorite teacher-input activities are movie talk and picture talk, however, the cornerstone of her curriculum is reading. She places great emphasis on reading with her classes and allowing time for students to soak up this practice and regularly explore her Free Voluntary Reading Library (FVR). Well, now we have the opportunity to have her books in our library as well!

What Is FVR?

Note: FVR , for those of your hearing this term for the first time, a classroom library comprised of chapters books that are written at the students’ level. These book present a host of topics, and storylines yet told with very limited unique vocabulary that allows for reading comprehension, a low cognitive load, and can greatly facilitate language acquisition. You can visit Mike Peto’s blogs for more information FVR. He also wrote a book on Pleasure Reading! You can see a picture of my FVR library below if you are unfamiliar with this concept. Also, check out the twitter accounts of teachers such as @lovemysummers, @karajacobs, @janina_hanson to see how they structure their classroom libraries.

Teacher-Author

Theresa started writing CI novels about three years ago. She had begun to use more comprehension- based readers in her classes, and immediately witnessed the impact they had on her students’ language acquisition. She wanted to contribute more readers to her own classroom library, as there were not as many readers in French. So, she picked up a pen. Theresa confessed that she loves writing about mysteries, culture, and heartfelt stories that everyone can relate to ( we definitely have that in common! I am a mystery girl myself)! Because of Theresa’s penchant to flip the script and contribute to the growing body of comprehensible literature, we can now line our libraries with new, compelling mysteries, in French, Spanish, and German. Let’s take a look at what Theresa has to offer, and why YOU DON’T WANT YOUR KIDS TO MISS OUT!

Theresa has authored the following books:
Une obsession dangereuse – Françoise’s obsession with alligators is a bit concerning, but when she plans a face-to-face encounter, it becomes downright dangerous. As she and her friend Monique secretly venture out into the bayou for an alligator encounter, they discover that both alligators and the bayou are much safer when viewed on TV ! Françoise finds herself in a life-or-death situation, and her only hope for survival rests on the wits of a 13- year-old girl.  

Une obsession dangereuse is available on Fluency Matters website. http://www.fluencymatters.com

Une disparition mystèrieuse – It has been a week since Alice’s best friend Dominique disappeared. Since that day, Alice’s world has turned upside down, and her life has begun to spiral out of control. Will Alice see her best friend again? Did Alice pay enough attention to the details leading up to her friend’s disappearance? Will an old Louisiana legend come to life? Will she discover a far greater mystery that has haunted the marshes of Louisiana for years?  
REVIEW OF BOOK : 

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***Also available in Spanish*** 
Una desaparición misteriosa-It has been a week since Ana’s best friend Daniela disappeared. Since that day, Ana’s world has turned upside down, and her life has begun to spiral out of control. Will Ana see her best friend again? Did Ana pay enough attention to the details leading up to her friend’s disappearance? Will an old Peruvian legend come to life? Will she discover a far greater mystery that has haunted the children of Peru for years?  

Review of the book:

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L’île au trésor: Première partie: La malédiction de l’île Oak –

Daniel is a typical teenager who just wants to spend his summer vacation with his friends. Unfortunately, he must spend another summer in Canada, where his father works. Will his summer be as boring as the last, or will he manage to make the most of it in the absence of his friends? Will he find adventure and excitement in the long days ahead?  

Review of Book :

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La ofrenda de Sofía-It has been nearly a year since her grandfather has passed away. Sofía is not coping very well with his death or her recent move to Mexico. The Day of the Dead celebration is approaching and Sofía’s mom is persistent in her efforts to get her to participate. Will Sofía learn things about her grandfather that she didn’t know? Will she learn the true meaning of the Day of the Dead celebration?  

Review of book:It’s full of suspense and heart.
Ooooh!  It’s a page turner!!  Pick it up for your classroom libraries!!

Léo et Anton –  

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Anton is different – a mouse that isn’t afraid of cats who lives in the Parc du Bois-Beckett forest in Quebec, Canada with his mom and dad. But, Anton is not happy. He doesn’t have any friends, and he is not allowed to explore the forest alone as his father fears he will get attacked by a cat.  Will Anton venture alone into the forest against his father’s will?  Will Anton ever be able to make any friends? Will Anton’s courage get him into trouble? Sometimes it is our differences that not only set us apart from others but make us exactly the same.

Luis y Antonio –  

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Antonio is different – a mouse that isn’t afraid of cats who lives in the Arrayes forest in Argentina with his mom and dad. But, Antonio is not happy. He doesn’t have any friends, and he is not allowed to explore the forest alone as his father fears he will get attacked by a cat.  Will Antonio venture alone into the forest against his father’s will?  Will Antonio ever be able to make any friends? Will Antonio’s courage get him into trouble? Sometimes it is our differences that not only set us apart from others but make us exactly the same.  

Review of the book:

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This story (Léo et Anton) will soon be available in German as well. 
Theresa has 2 more stories in the works! Please stay tuned 🙂 
You can find all of her books and audio book CD’s for her books at her website : www.compellinglanguagecorner.com

Theresa Marrama’s book are becoming a staple for teachers looking for compelling comprehensible literature. I have several of her books, and will be adding more to my classroom library. If you want to find out more about Theresa, check out her website and her Amazon’s author’s page.

The Compelling Language Corner

Theresa Marrama Author’s Page