Tag: novels

Bianca Nieves Chapter 5: El Juego Imposible

My Spanish IV class has been zipping through the novel Bianca Nieves y los Siete Toritos by Carrie Toth. It’s a little below their reading level, but it is rich in the uses of subjunctive as well as Spanish bullfighting culture. (Tangent: I am a huge believer in reading below level as long as the content is rich.)

After reading chapter 5, in which the villainous stepmother threatens Bianca with an impossible choice, I made up a slideshow inspired by Martina Bex’s ¿Es Posible? boardgame. I didn’t have enough time to create an actual game in class, nor did I have the classtime to devote to such an activity. I simply displayed each slide in order to generate discussion. This also allowed for a lot of authentic use of the subjunctive!

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Teaching Novels for the Whole Class

Yesterday I got a chance to present to our local comprehensible input group. This group is the fruit of last summer’s IFLT conference, and it has been so helpful to have like-minded professionals from all different kinds of schools and languages meet regularly to share ideas and ask questions.

I shared a presentation about how I go about teaching a whole-class novel, and I’m posting it here for anyone who might find it useful.

Patricia va a California

I have a soft spot in my heart for Blaine Ray’s Patricia va a California. It’s not the newest TPRS novel out there. The story is simple and a little clunky at times, the resolution comes too quickly, and the ending reads like an after-school special. There are no pictures, and the teacher’s guides that are out there lean heavily on comprehension questions and true/false quizzes. Yet I teach it every year. I value the contrast between American and Guatemalan cultures as well as the book’s sweet message of acceptance. For some of my students, this book has been the first time they had to confront their own preconceived notions about Latinos. Here are some of the activities I do with my students.

They even give away the pivotal scene on the front cover! Talk about taking away suspense.

Chapters 1-3

I created a digital breakout to pre-teach Guatemalan geography and culture. In the past, I have also used Martina Bex’s reading about Guatemalan geography as a hook for my students.

I have my students do graphic organizers to represent Patricia’s house, family, and mealtimes, and we do lots and lots of PQA comparing and contrasting in this section. There’s not a lot of story or plot going on here, but we just go slowly here and use it as a jumping-off point to talk about my students’ lives.

I also have incorporated Martina Bex’s chicken bus resources in this section of the book, when it talks about the dad taking the bus to work because they don’t have a car. It’s a fun break from the novel!

Chapters 4-7

I have my students listen and draw a story map to represent the action in chapter 4, since there’s a lot of movement as Patricia travels from Panajachel to Los Angeles. In chapter 5, they did a similar family tree and house drawing for the American house, and we focused our conversation on comparing Patricia’s Guatemalan house to her American one. I make a pretty big deal about all the technology and appliances mentioned in the text (COLD WATER? From the FRIDGE?!) to further emphasize the disparity between a rich nation and a poorer one. This might also be a good time to show all or part of the English-language documentary Living On One in class. Even though Patricia’s family doesn’t seem to have a lot compared to us, the reality is that they are comparatively well-off.

The antagonist Debbie Martin also gets introduced in chapter 6, and she is so cartoonishly mean that I can’t help but pronounce her name dramatically every time it comes up in the text.

I have my students draw storyboards of chapters 6 and 7, and we have lots of rich discussion and PQA comparing Patricia’s school, the California school, and our own school, as well as the role sports play in Latin American schools.

Chapters 8-11

Chapter 8 is THE PIVOTAL scene of the book, the one where Debbie Martin turns it around. We made sure to dramatically re-enact the car-jack scene using the Readers Theatre technique, and we discussed whether or not we would be so forgiving of a girl like Debbie. We then do a 5-Finger Retell of the chapter: students trace their hands and write a “Who, What, Where, When, and How” in each finger space. In the palm, they write their own reaction.

Chapters 9-11

The book winds down with Patricia and Debbie becoming friends and Debbie visiting Guatemala. By this point, my students are really comfortable with the text and I relax the graphic organizers and illustrations. We just read, discuss, and enjoy!

To review the whole book, I have my students match chapter titles (there are no official ones, so I made some up!) and then illustrate or write the key events from each chapter.

I also have developed a Socratic seminar for this novel, in which we circle up and discuss the cultural differences between Guatemala and the United States, the similarities we share, and whether or not it is important to visit another country. It’s a great way to finish up the novel and help students think about their own travel goals in the future!

Digital Breakout: Guatemala

I have a new obsession. It started with Breakout.edu and all the fantastic breakouts that are coming out from Martina Bex. I tried the Agentes Secretos breakout in class with great success and had grand plans to create my own breakout activity. That is still in the works to go along with the novel Robo en la noche, but over spring break I allowed myself to go down the rabbit hole into the world of digital breakouts.

It’s appealing because all you need is an internet connection, a computer, and a logical brain. Solving many (too many) of the digital breakouts posted gave me lots of inspiration to tackle a digital breakout of my own. My Spanish I class is about to read Patricia va a California, and the first couple of chapters deal with Guatemala and the culture there. I tried to incorporate as much of that as possible, and here is the result: Escape: Guatemala. Take a look around and try to solve the puzzles!

 

Movie Talk with Rio (plus a novel tie-in!)

As my high school students have been reading Kristy Placido’s Robo en la noche this quarter, they keep drawing comparisons to the animated movie Rio. Now, I’ve never seen this movie, but I thought it would be a natural progression to do a week of Movie Talk with a clip. Pixar-type movies are usually good about posting clips that function as stand-alone shorts, instead of just the typical teaser-trailer. One short jaunt through YouTube got me a good clip for Movie Talk: It’s short (about two minutes), action-packed, and full of vocabulary that my students will be familiar with from reading the novel (aves, no puede volar, se cae, tiene miedo, alas, se pone nervioso). After viewing the video, I started writing up a comprehensible text, focusing on two target phrases:

no sabía volar
chocó con

Here’s the video, along with the accompanying reading.


Rio MovieTalk

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!