This week for our TPRS structures and embedded reading, Josef Sallen (the teacher I'm planning this year with) had a great idea. He decided to write an embedded reading about Francisco Franco (a dictator from Spain's history that also is mentioned in Agentes Secretos y el mural de Picasso). It talked about how Francisco Franco is a boy and his dad is a soldier and Francisco later wants to be a soldier. Then it gives some background about the Spanish Civil War and the two opposing sides in the war.
So it occurred to me that since we're going to be reading the novel and Joe had written the embedded reading about Franco, maybe we could find some other things from the era to help us go back in time and to understand the perspectives (that's national standards talk!). So I found some propaganda posters that I showed for warm ups and had the students figure out which side they probably went with (the day after the embedded reading). And on Thursday (on song day), we listened to Ay Carmela. I saved a lesson plan about it. It's a hymn for the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War. It talks about the Battle of the Ebro (arguably a somewhat important battle in the Spanish Civil War).
I did a history lesson about parts of the Spanish Civil War with a PowerPoint in Spanish halfway through class. My kids actually seemed to enjoy it! Who knew that they could enjoy history in Spanish class. The best part is that it only helps us to further understand the backdrop for the novel Agentes Secretos y el mural de Picasso.
Then today (Friday) we read the first chapter of the novel. I haven't done a novel reading before. I asked my kids to be patient with me since I was trying something new this year in teaching them. Then we read. One of the neat things was we have many Spanish speakers in class and I asked if they wouldn't mind helping me read the Spanish since they're so much better at the language than me! It went over wonderfully. The kids were able to follow along and read while someone spoke in Spanish with a native accent.
Some problems of course did occur:
- some students no matter how easy you might try to make it just don't like reading
- the readings are way too easy for Native / Heritage speakers
- only a few kids really bought into helping translate the novel as we went through
- I would really love for all the students to get excited about understanding and helping out
- How can I create a classroom atmosphere that will be more comfortable for all students?
Some things that went well:
- For most students, the structures in the book were way easy to translate and it helped with confidence (still confusion between quiere and tiene among some Spanish 1 students)
- Native / Heritage speakers read out loud as we followed. I asked them if they wouldn't mind helping me read since they spoke Spanish way better than me while we followed. Most jumped to the task since I asked them to hold back on helping us translate today.
Ideas for future:
A teacher had an idea to get my kids to participate more when reading, I could have assign the students into groups with a color or animal and then periodically only allow that group to answer the questions. This could be a much better idea for those big classes where some kids monopolize the answering.