Monday, October 31, 2016

3 Part Short Story Series for Spanish Class-Subjunctive, Imperfect and preterite-

Las Apariencias Engañan
Scroll down for the synopsis, free Teacher's Manual and preview of first two chapters!

I was thrilled by the concept of Novelas por Entregas such as those you'd read in Vanidades Magazine. You'd flip to the back, and there was always an intriguing story: short, but sweet. This was the same method used by 19th authors who published chapters of their work prior to publishing a novel. I started with this method and now las entregas constitute a Spanish 3-part language-learning mini-series for Teens, with dynamic and relatable characters, complex scenarios and drama-drenched encounters.

Be sure to check out the quizlet sets!

  I created El Muerto en el Armario series for my Spanish IV class. I started by trying to write a simple story that would include the different facets of the subjunctive tense, which was the structure for our unit on Identity and Relationships.  I know there is a lot of good TPRS books and shorts out there, but as an on-the-go teacher, it was virtually impossible for me to curate materials (that would include both vocabulary and grammar) and control for many other variables, so I solved for X and created my own. 
          It started out as one story about friends with different types of issues and has now blossomed into a full-blown series. After the first chapter, El Psicólogo (the original name of the cuento) students were asking for more. They thought the story was “beast” and wondered if the author (I did not tell them it was me) had more chapters.  I started writing during my weekends to keep up with the demand. Now that I have finished and perfected the novel, I am sharing with you!

       Since my students really enjoy reading the story and acting it out in class, I made sure to quite a bit of purposeful dialogue. The dialogue in the story is replete with witty remarks, idiomatic expressions and real reactions to problems. No worries about teaching the vocabulary, most of the expressions and vocabulary are included in the footnotes in addition to being scaffolded through the tons of activities in the Teacher’s Manual.  The footnotes, which are bountiful, ensured that my students did not miss a beat with this engrossing story. The story has received good reviews, so I hope you and your students enjoy it as well. It would be a great asset to any FVR/SSR program or could be read as a class with reading, speaking, grammar,  and creative writing activities. 

Synopsis for part 1 of the series

          Camilo is hiding a secret, and it won’t be long until his girlfriend finds out. She sets out to spy on her once romantic poem-writing boyfriend, who is being incredibly secretive as of late. Between poor grades, his erratic behavior, and her parents’ divorce, Salomé feels like she is going to implode. Her new discovery of chica who is colada with her boyfriend puts her over the edge even más. Seeking help and sanity, she decides to visit a popular town psychiatrist. He changes her perspective on things, and with that comes a cost.  His advice ultimately leads her to discover a much greater truth about Camilo, his father and the town in which they live. She goes on a quest for the truth but then gets more than she bargained for. ...Every chapter is a twisty rollercoaster that abruptly stops at a cliffhanger, right before it pushes you over the edge. Las Apariencias Engañan reveals the timeless truths that things are never what they seem to be.

Click below for the two-chapter preview!

Las Apariencias Engañan (Part 1)

Click the link below to access the free Teacher's Manual for this Series 

Teacher's Manual of Activities 

El Muerto en el Armario: Las mentiras tienen patas cortas 

The second installment in the series El Muerto en el Armario ups the stakes for all the players involved. “Las cartas están sobre la mesa” as Salomé (Camilo’s girlfriend) holds all the players hostage to their secrets.   Through a series of clever maneuvers, Camilo (Juan’s best friend) and Liliana (Juan’s girlfriend) are still able to evade the truth; but the time is quickly running out. Situational “close calls, will put readers’ “pelos de punta” especially when Juan confronts Camilo on his secretive behavior and the steamy text messages (nothing inappropriate) found on his phone. Liliana adds to her personal drama when she discovers a secret belonging to one of Camilo's parents; this secret is the just tip of the iceberg.  The second installment is chock full of confessions, secrets and mysterious people that will inevitably be at the center of the drama in the third installment La Nube: Corre y No Mires Atrás.  How will Camilo's parents handle her knowing sensitive information?  What price will she pay for this secret? Will Juan discover the truth about his friends? How will Salomé exact revenge? Find out in part 2! 

This story may be best suited for Spanish 3 and above. There are a few kissing scenes, romantic talk and threats such as " Me las vas a pagar, te lo juro." There is some back-stabbing, betrayal, espionage.

Activities for using the story in class 
Most activities cater to the present subjunctive. Many questions require students to respond to the story in a way that evokes the subjunctives. There are also tasks wherein they take the role of the psychiatrist to recommend how the people in the story could solve their problems. The activity below, included in the story bundle, is one such activity. A list of the activities are included below:

Resources for this series

Please Make a copy of the editable version of conversation cards

Conversation Cards for El Muerto en el Armario Series 

Enjoy, books in print coming soon!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

5 Activities for using El Internado in class (reading and target structure practice)

Reading Passage and Grammar Activity: Killing Two Birds with One Stone! 

This month in my Spanish IV class we are exploring the Relationships. I deviated from my usual Art unit a bit since we started El Internado in the beginning of the year. Turns out that the next few episodes of the Spanish series (Mar de plástico is by the same creator) are centered on relationships. What a juicy coincidence that my students get to discuss relationships and to see some of those complications play out on screen with their most adored characters.

Reading passage for El Internado and Subjunctive Activity 

So I have been trying to incorporate more reading that would have the dual function of highlighting the nuances of language while promoting interest. I created this synopsis, marrying the two that sheds light on the complicated world of relationships, expresses how we feel about relationships (subjunctive) in the midst of a high-interest context (El Internado).

Click here for the synopsis and five activities

Here is how you can implement this free resource:

1. Invite students read the one-page summary.
2. Activity 1: Ask them to reread and highlight the subjunctive tense. 
3. Activity 2: Write the sentences with the subjunctive and determine which function of WEIRDOS is being applied.  
4. Activity 3: Respond to subjunctive triggering questions. 
5. Activity 4: Use subjunctive sentence stems in order to write about the characters.
6. Activity 5: Respond to general questions about the episode.

Every year that I have used this series, I have a slightly different focus. This resource fits right into the unit we are doing on relationships.   Since this time around we are discussing what is the key to a good relationship in addition to complications that may arise, this episode of the Internado was perfect.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Diversity and the politics of Identity- Last of a four part Identity series for Spanish 4

 The Politics of Identity 

This week the plan was to engage in a topic that has been sweeping the country and framing many political debates: the fluidity and diversity of identity. At my school, this has been a very heavy topic. We have been knee- deep in discussion about identity for this unit and this was our last week.  Students have learned from each other about their respective identity and the pluralistic ways in which they express who they are.  In addition, our school district crafted a new policy on All Gender bathrooms, so this unit, at this juncture was very timely, to say the least.   Although we did not get the activities below, (my summative assessment was the speaking task at the end of this post), I have outlined how to implement the last segment with your students. 

The last leg of the unit on identity consists on watching two videos that discuss La Ley de la Identidad and reading the text: Los Chicos Trangénero (please note that "transgénero" was singular in most of the articles I referenced regardless of the noun being plural).

Check out my store for free resources related to this unit at my Teacherspayteachers store. Activities tailored to the videos as well as a modified, slightly re-written piece (for my students) are all part this 45 -page Identity Unit.  

Ideas on how to implement this in class: 

Small group discussion
 Prior to watching the videos and supporting resources, these anticipatory question could potential prime students' thinking. 

1. What does La Ley de La Identidad mean? 

2. Who is the intended audience for this law? 

3. Who would it affect? 

4. What social issues would call for a law of this nature? 

After responding to the questions, students could watch the video of the Argentine Identity Law newscast. This video captures different voices and opinions on La Ley de la Identidad. 

After watching the video of the newscast, students could view this second video resource put together by the Transgender community. This video discusses the personal impact of the law on their lives.  No matter what side of the debate you are on, the video is very impactful and highlights how this community feels marginalized. Students could watch the video and complete related activities such as: 

  • Writing definitions/ their take and/ or opinion on some of the words used in the video
  • Respond to personal questions about related to the video. For example, one of the men in the video (not all people are from the Transgender community) says the following:  Las costumbres son difíciles de romper." Students could discuss what this means and give examples of other "costumbres"  propia de nuestra cultura" that are difficult to part with.  
Video activies are part of the Teen Identity Unit 

Six-years-old and Transgender 

The last of the activities was an article about Transgender kids in Argentina. La Ley de Identidad Case that took place several years ago in Argentina. The text talks briefly about the decision of parents to allow their 6 year -old boys to change their identity. Last year we did this text while studying the past subjunctive, so much I modified much of the text (added some other details) in order to exploit that language function.  Student read the text, divide into groups and debate one of the three questions below: 

Speaking Assessment 

Click here for the free resource: Speaking Task Questions

The speaking assessment draws on the videos and texts we explored through the entire unit. Check out the first three posts at the bottom of this page for those links. 

I gave students the list of questions beforehand.  On their sheet, they had three categories of questions. The students had to choose one question from each category; then I choose one additional question. During the interview, I sometimes asked them an extension question on one of their choosing. 

I thought this choice motivated them significantly. I noticed that most of them were very prepared for the task. If I had to do this again, I would give them a voice as well; I would enlist some of the questions they thought should have appeared on the assessment. I did this last year for my Art Unit, and it went pretty well. In fact, students generated better questions in some instances.  Although this is the end of our unit, I am sure may of the elements touched on in this unit such as digital identity and cultural identity will resurface in my Frida and Technology Unit. Although I did not get to use the Transgender Debate pieces, I am planning on recycling them for my Global Issues unit. 

Comments and resources

Please note that the author names are pseudonyms in the Identity Unit Text. The articles referenced in all texts are listed on the last page).

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

100% in the Target Language?


Teaching 100% in the TL? 

This year I am struggling with staying 100 % in the target language. Although I slow down and try as much as possible to make the input comprehensible, I still hear students asking- what did she say?  Many students are still shy to ask questions, they want to look "cool" in front of their peers. Many times I just feeling like tirando la toalla and just giving them simple instructions in English. However, I am manteniendo la calma; I don't know for how much longer. I have thought about stopping and making it mandatory for them to ask me questions, but I have doubts about this method as well. How much of class is directed in the target langauge?   

Teaching Grammar?

My other question concerns teaching grammar and providing instructions for projects.  I rarely teach grammar, but when I do mini lessons or give them "flipped" homework, they come to class with questions about the grammar. I struggle with should I stick in the target language or do I provide instructions in clear English? The problem with the former is that I think that it provides a heavier cognitive burden and now the brain has to work overtime to overcome a language barrier in order to get their question answered. I see so many blogs and people discussing 100% usage of the target language, but I am questioning its utility in some cases.

I had originally written this blog post after a rough day at school. I had a girl ditch class that day because she claimed she does not understand what I am saying. This was disheartening.  I had many students looking confused and I was just at my wit's end. I felt that there was something that I should be doing as a teacher to facilitate comprehension. I called my friend Sonja. She is a CI teacher from the Chicagoland area. She illuminated me. She gave me some real brass-tacks advice on how to use the target language appropriately in the class. One of the simple techniques she recommended was writing structures in addition to words in English on the board and then referring to them throughout the class in in the TL. I implemented the very next day in Spanish class to much success. 

What are some techniques you use to facilitate comprehension in the TL?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Promoting Sticking Power with Multiple Interactions with the Same Text

 Facilitating Thinking and Learning with Chat Stations 

This post is the third in a four series lesson on Identity for my upper level Spanish class.  

Part 1: Taking of the Mask 
Part 2: Comprehensible Culture 

Right before administering a reading assessment that draws on the article students read, the videos and discussion in class (see posts 1 and 2), I decided to enact Chat Stations in the class. I learned about this idea from the Cult of Pedagogy last year during my unit on Arte. After discussing questions at the Chat Stations, students felt that the were more prepared to engage in the reading assessment.

The Benefits of Chatting it out

We have 90 minute block periods in my school.  I made sure that students, prior to taking the assessment, had additional time to process the concepts and ideas from the reading and the video. For their warm up activity, they had re-engage with the text with the question on the slide.

This activity allowed students to interact again with the text and clarify their learning. After the warm up activity they shared out. I did not allow them to use the reading during the test because:

  •  We had read it last class
  • They read it for homework again and took notes
  • They had the questions to the right as a warm up
  •  30 minutes of Chat Stations questions designed to help them dig deeper. 
 I thought they could do a good job in discuss the global themes and give examples with all of those tasks under their belt. 

Click here for the Power Point I used for Chat Stations . I had actually given students a printout of the questions in addition to having them taped to the station. It ran pretty smoothly, I went around to each group to listen in and engage in the conversation.  For the reading test they had to recall information about identity, read cases about adolescentes and determine what was the root cause-related to texts and video. It was fun. 

Helpful links

Chat Stations

Speaking and Listening Techniques

We are finally getting to this next week!

La Identidad Flexible: Diversity and the Politics of Identity:  Debate en Argentina sobre la Ley de la Identidad