Category: Story Scripts

Don Quijote: El último caballero por Karen Rowan

.My Spanish III class revolves around the history and culture of Spain, so I was eager to work with Karen Rowan’s version of the classic Don Quijote: el último caballero. The last time I taught this class, I relied on my own episodios from a more difficult student reader, and I was pleased to find that Karen’s book is vastly superior to my own efforts!  Here are some of the things I have done so far, along with what is next:

Capítulo 1:

I introduced key structures with a mini-story, acted out by my wonderful student actors. Changeable details are underlined.

Target structures:

se volvió un poco loco

decidió quemar

llegó volando

Bob es un chico normal que trabaja en Wal-mart. Un día, Bob se volvió un poco loco porque un cliente molesto lo tocaba sin parar. Así que Bob agarró una espada Nerf y atacó al cliente, pero lo mató por accidente. Entonces Bob decidió quemar toda la evidencia. Hizo un fuego grande y se escapó, pero un helicóptero de la policía llegó volando. Bob fue capturado por la policía, pero cuando le explicó la situación con el cliente molesto, la policía exclamó “¡Yo comprendo!” y lo liberó.

Students drew pictures and wrote sentences using the new vocabulary as a follow-up, and we were able to read and discuss chapter one of Don Quijote without difficulties.

Capítulo 2

I used another mini-story to introduce target vocabulary.

Target Structures:

quería buscar a una dama

se enamoró inmediatamente

todos se rieron

Bob quería buscar buscar a una dama. Quería buscar el amor. Vio a una dama y se enamoró inmediatamente. La presentó a sus amigos, y todos se rieron.

This was a super-short story, and I used this creepy granny doll as the dama in question. Any prop that you have to make the dama ridiculous or funny would be a good one!

I followed up the mini-story with a love song in Spanish (“Chocolate” by Jesse y Joy, but there are many apt songs!) since this was right before Valentine’s Day. The next day, I had a sub day and my students read chapter two on their own and drew pictures to show understanding.

Capítulo 3

This was the famous windmill scene, so I wanted to really help students picture it. After writing the structures ejército de gigantes and molinos de viento on the board, we read and discussed the chapter. Students had to draw Don Quijote’s fantasy vs. Sancho Panza’s reality, and then we did a dictation which was a summary of the episode from Don Quijote’s perspective.

The next day, we reviewed stills from the 1979 cartoon of Don Quijote and then did a Movie Talk with the Youtube video:

Capítulo 4

After writing the target structures pastores y ovejas and les tiraron piedras on the board, I read the chapter aloud, throwing “piedras” (some pencil erasers) at students during the story.

Capítulo 5

My students read this chapter first in small groups and drew scenes with dialogue from the chapter. To cement understanding, we acted out the scene with actors perched on their desks and falling off of them. We then discussed why it was necessary to trick Don Quijote instead of just asking him to come home and made predictions about how Don Quijote would react to a year with no adventures.

Capítulo 6

I am going to pre-teach se dio cuenta de que with a PQA discussion about when students realized that Santa/the tooth fairy/the Easter bunny weren’t real. Then, students will read the final chapter individually while I play music from Strauss’s Don Quijote Op. 35. (One of my students remembered playing movements of this in her youth orchestra, and was trying to match what she played with what she was reading. This will be a surprise for her!)

We will then discuss what they read, focusing on whether Don Quijote is a tragic figure or merely ridiculous.


In searching around for related materials, I came across the short film Lila on Zachary Jones’s site.


We will Movie Talk the film, then students will complete the activity sheet posted on Zambombozo, separating reality from fantasy. Then students will read the analysis of the video on Zambombazo, showing comprehension by matching the more advanced Spanish of the given text with paraphrased passages in simpler Spanish. After discussing the text, students will have a writing assignment comparing themselves to both Don Quijote and Lila and answering the central question: “¿Es mejor vivir en el mundo real o en un mundo de fantasías?”

El Robot

Whenever you start teaching at a new school, there always seems to be a treasure trove of resources to discover, leftover from the teacher before you. One of the books I found a few years ago at my new school is called Realidad y Fantasía by Suan H. Noguez and Emily Boyd. It has a wealth of stories written in simple, comprehensible Spanish, along with workbook-type activities for each. It doesn’t seem to be in print anymore, but if you find a copy, hold on to it! Some of the stories contain valuable cultural and historical information, and others are just fun to read, with an irreverent sense of humor that captures students’ interest.

One story from the book is called “El Robot.” It’s about a robot who works in a house, cleaning and cooking and doing the dishes, but all the while wanting to do something else. He decides to invent another robot to do the chores, but of course that doesn’t work out! I’ve used the story on its own and rewritten as an embedded reading, but this year I tried it just as a story script, reducing it to the bare bones and letting students flesh it out. Here it is, with the variables underlined.

Key structures:

tiene que hacer todos los quehaceres

limpia la casa

lava la ropa

saca la basura

Hay un robot que se llama Stanley. Stanley vive en una casa con una familia. Tiene que hacer todos los quehaceres. Tiene que cocinar y lavar los platos. Tiene que sacar la basura y limpiar todos los baños. Es un robot muy trabajador, pero no está contento. Quiere tocar el saxófono. Así que decide inventar otro robot para ayudar en casa. Va a su laboratorio e inventa un nuevo robot. Se llama Dora.

Ahora Dora tiene que hacer todos los quehaceres. Dora limpia la casa, lava la ropa, y saca la basura. Por fin, Stanley puede practicar su saxófono. Toca en una banda de jazz. Pero hay un problema: Dora no está contenta. Quiere nadar en los Olímpicos. Así que Dora decide darles dinero a los hijos de la casa para hacer los quehaceres. Dora no tiene dinero porque es un robot, así que decide robar el dinero de un banco. La policía arresta a Dora, y ahora Stanley tiene que hacer todos los quehaceres.

The Girl Who Didn’t Know How to Drive

In order to pre-teach vocabulary for the upcoming Rio Movie-Talk video, I wrote a short script and did a regular story-asking session today. It worked out well, and I think the Movie-Talk will be much richer and more productive when students already know the core vocabulary.

Target Structures in this case are:

No sabía manejar   She didn’t know how to drive

Chocó con   She crashed into/ran into

There was a girl who didn’t know how to drive. One day, she wanted to go to her friend’s house. So, she got in her dad’s truck and tried to drive to her friend’s house. But there was a problem: She didn’t know how to drive. She crashed into a gas station, and the gas station exploded. The girl and the truck both died and went to heaven.

When she arrived in heaven, the girl was an angel. But there was a problem: She didn’t know how to fly. She was a very sad angel. Her dad’s truck was in heaven, too, but it was not an angel. It had turned into a Transformer. The Transformer knew how to fly. It taught the girl how to fly, and she was very happy.

Julieta Venegas “Me Voy”

My Spanish I class has been reading Blaine Ray’s novel “Pobre Ana” this quarter, and doing quite a good job with it. In chapter seven, Ana says goodbye to all her friends in Mexico, and I decided to use the catchy song “Me Voy” by Julieta Venegas to pre-teach that structure.

First, I wrote the following structures on the board:

Quiere despedirse de = She wants to say goodbye (break up with)

Me voy = I’m going

Me despido de ti = I’m saying goodbye to you

(Reflexive pronouns can make verb forms look quite different, so at this level I treat the infinitive and the conjugated form as two different structures.)

I used them to tell a story:

Hay una chica que se llama Julieta. Julieta tiene un novio, Romeo. Romeo es un novio muy malo. Juega videojuegos, come la pizza, y bebe Mountain Dew todos los días. Nunca presta atención a su novia.

Un día, Julieta quiere despedirse de Romeo. Le dice, “Adiós,” pero Romeo no le escucha. Entonces, Julieta le escribe una carta. La carta dice,

“Querido Romeo, Me despido de ti. Adiós, Julieta.” 

Pero Romeo es muy peresozo y nunca lee la carta. Por fin, Julieta toca la guitarra y le canta. Le canta, “¡Me voy! Qué lástima, pero adiós. Me despido de ti.” Después, Julieta se sube a un globo aerostático y se va. Romeo llora porque ahora no tiene una novia.

After circling the story for a bit, I showed the video, and students had to match Spanish lyrics with their English equivalents.

The next day, we read Pobre Ana with no problems because students recognized the vocabulary!

The Girl Who Didn’t fly

After the success of last week’s Matava script, I decided to try one of my own for my more advanced group of Spanish students.  My kids were SUPER goofy today, and I did not help matters when I mimed kicking something and my shoe went flying.  But I think I see a lot of potential with this script.

Target Structures:

liked to travel

got on

tried to fly

There was a girl who liked to travel, but she didn’t have enough money.

One day, she got on a bicycle and tried to fly. She wasn’t friends with ET, so she didn’t fly anywhere.

Another day, she got on a carpet and tried to fly. But the carpet wasn’t magical, so she didn’t fly anywhere.

Finally, she got on a dragon and tried to fly. She kicked the dragon. The dragon didn’t like it.  The dragon looked at the girl and breathed fire. The girl flew to the hospital in a helicopter and was very happy.

(My original idea had the girl kicking an elephant, who then sat on her, but I liked my students’ dragon suggestion better.)

You’re Fired!

Last week, I used an Anne Matava story script in my novice level Spanish class.  I generally stick with stories reworked from either Blaine Ray’s “Look, I Can Talk” series or from the Realidades TPRS ancillary book, but I wanted to teach “lazy” and “hardworking,” and I didn’t like any of those options for that.

Anne Matava has quite the reputation in CI circles for her simple, easy-to-circle story scripts.  After last week, I may have to buy her books!

Here is what the class came up with.  (After telling the story with actors and retelling with pictures, I wrote the story in the first person to give them practice with yo-forms.)

Target Structures:

eres perezoso

el jefe le grita

estás despedido

El chico perezoso

Hola. Me llamo Enrique Iglesias. Soy alto y guapo. Yo tengo muchos amigos porque soy un chico simpático. Pero tengo un problema. Es un problema serio. Yo soy… ¡perezoso!

Yo trabajo en una escuela. No soy profesor ni director. Yo limpio el suelo. ¡No me gusta limpiar el suelo! ¡No me gusta trabajar! Soy perezoso, y me duermo en el suelo. La jefa, Sra. King, me ve, y no está contenta. Ella me grita, “¡Enrique! ¿Por qué duermes en el suelo? Tú eres muy perezoso. ¡Estás despedido!” Yo estoy muy triste porque Sra. King me despide.

Entonces, yo trabajo en un restaurante. Se llama Burger King. No soy el jefe. No limpio el suelo. Yo trabajo preparando hamburguesas. Yo preparo dos hamburguesas, y decido que no me gusta. ¡No me gusta trabajar! Voy al refrigerador y me duermo. Me duermo porque soy perezoso. Mi jefe me abre el refrigerador y me ve. Me agarra y me grita, “¡Enrique Iglesias! ¿Por qué duermes en el refrigerador? ¡Qué ridículo! ¡Estás despedido!” Ahora yo quiero llorar. Tengo mucho frío, y ahora estoy despedido de Burger King.

Por fin, yo trabajo en una gasolinera. Se llama Kwik-E-Mart. Yo decido trabajar mucho. Necesito trabajar. Necesito un trabajo. Necesito el dinero. Así que yo soy muy trabajador. Limpio los baños. Preparo el pollo frito. Limpio el suelo. Y no me duermo. Soy un chico muy trabajador.

Pero hay un problema. Un helicóptero se cae. ¡Se cae en mi gasolinera! El helicóptero y la gasolinera explotan. Yo exploto, también. Voy al cielo. Soy un ángel en el cielo. Toco el arpa y canto. Dios me escucha. Me escucha tocando el arpa y cantando. A Dios no le gusta. Dios me grita, “¡Enrique! Tú cantas muy mal. Tú tocas el arpa muy mal, también. No me gusta. ¡Estás despedido!”

Story Extension Idea

Last week, I used Martina Bex’s script “El amigo simpático” for my 8th graders.  In her script, a nice girl helps three different friends.  Well, we didn’t get to the third friend when telling the story in either of my classes.  This turned out to be a good thing.

When I typed up the reading, I included a third paragraph about a friend who needs help because they can’t eat.  I inserted blanks for the name, the reason they can’t eat, and how the nice girl helps.  Working in pairs, students created new details and illustrated to show understanding.

I then spun this out even further.  I chose five of the better story ideas and re-typed them with correct grammar.  I copied their pictures as well.  The next day, my students paired up and read the other class’s stories aloud to each other.  Then, they got a stack of the pictures.  They had to match the pictures to the stories first, then caption each picture in Spanish.  What a great way to spin out a story and get more reps!