Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Día 18 - Reading activity 2

So one of the hardest things for me is to get excited about reading in Spanish class.  I think it's because a majority of my college classes in Spanish were about reading way too much literature in Spanish.  In my opinion, teachers can easily overkill the reading portion in classes.

Nevertheless, an integral part of storytelling are the readings.  Blaine Ray's Look I can Talk text includes readings and extended readings.

My understanding (which could be wrong) is that readings can be used in class and also for homework with a few simple questions.  When we have a reading in class, as I learned in the conference, we should go over it as a class.  We go through the reading and have the students translate one sentence at a time while we go through them.  If there is something they don't know, I should just tell them.

Problem 1: Pacing
I tend to miss the point when it comes to a reading.  I understand that they throw in new words to the stories to help students learn the present tense in conjunction with the past tense and also to reinforce important vocabulary.  There also should be a similar storyline from the story told during class.

It makes sense that these readings serve multiple purposes.  They are a springboard for conversations about students while developing literacy in Spanish.  Nevertheless, I want to make sure that we get through the text in a class period.  Perhaps that is where I'm wrong.  My approach has been to force them after we tell the story and to make us talk about them during class making sure to finish them during that class.

Instead, we should just see where the story leads us and the different questions.  As long as we're learning Spanish, it is ok if it takes us a day or even two to finish reading a story within a paragraph.  This would probably keep it more enjoyable.

Problem 2: Overteaching vs. Underteaching
I guess I get the fact that we're supposed to just tell students what something means when they don't get it.  But I also don't want to help foster those students who have "learned helplessness."  I need them to own their learning in my class.  If I get the impression that they aren't trying, that's where I get frustrated.  But the language is still new to them and they have other things on their mind.  So I am not sure at what point I should be quiet and not help them in the story translation.

Problem 3: Homework
I often wonder how to successfully implement homework in my classes because giving additional readings with a slightly higher level of literacy is how we can increase our students' understanding of the language.  Today in one of the classes, I assigned a longer reading after we went over the one in class and a few questions about the story.  Once the students saw the reading, they already assumed it was too hard.  I guess I haven't been building them up enough yet.

Tomorrow, I am not sure how to handle this.  The idea was to talk about the extended reading in class after they did it as homework.  I guess we'll see what happens.  I encouraged them to do their best and to just try and understand the story based on what they already knew.  There were only a few new words.  I need to find a more effective way to do homework assignments.

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