We began reading Esperanza, by Carol Gaab, in my Spanish 1b classes today. It. is. awesome. At just $5.00 a pop (for 25+ novels), it is an excellent investment for your Spanish program. Add in the comprehensive Teacher’s Guide for a few extra dollars, and you have ready-made, highly engaging lessons for several weeks. End advertisement.
Before we started the novel
Last week, we did a little background on Guatemala using some of the resources in the Teacher’s Guide and this reading/activity that I created. We spoke about immigration (again, using the resources provided in the Teacher’s Guide) and hypothesized about what we might expect to read about in the novel, given the title “Esperanza” and its meaning (“Hope”).
Teaching Esperanza: Day 1
Today, I explained that Esperanza is not only a theme of the novel, but the name of the main character. Now, the reader doesn’t actually find out that the main character’s name is Esperanza until the end of the book, but I told them from the start to make it easier to talk about her. The original intent of author Carol Gaab was to keep it a surprise until the end, but I spoiled it for the sake of comprehension.
As I talked about the main character and the theme, I put translations of story vocab on the board–personaje principal, tema, etc.. I also explained that the novel is written from the first person perspective–from Esperanza’s perspective–and we talked about what that means and what we could expect from it. This was all in Spanish, of course! The kids did great, and it was excellent reinforcement of their language arts curriculum.
Personalized Discussion before reading
Chapter 1 is called “El teléfono”, and in it, Esperanza receives four phone calls: two from her mother and two from a mysterious caller. To whet their appetites, we discussed these questions as a class before reading:
- ¿Tú hablas mucho por teléfono?
- ¿Quién te llama mucho?
- ¿Tus padres hablan mucho por teléfono? ¿Con quién?
- ¿Qué haces cuando recibes una llamada de un número desconocido? ¿Respondes?
- Hoy en día, ¿es más común hablar por teléfono, por mensajes de texto, o por Facebook?
Read the chapter aloud
And then…into the chapter we went! My first class voted for me to read the chapter aloud to them, and I was very happy with their choice and ended up sticking with it for my second class. The absence of subject pronouns preceding each sentence and quote can be confusing to a Novice reader, and so the mere changing of my voice to represent the different characters was enough for them to be able to understand the chapter in its entirety.
Can I just say, WOW CAROL! I thought that the book was high interest before we began it, but then again I think that a lot of things are high interest before my students get into them. The class was SILENT, and they even laughed and let out gasps and other appropriate emotional reactions in response to the text as I read–talk about high interest!! I paused at times to ask personalized questions about the reading (Ex: ¿Tu mamá es una persona nerviosa? ¿Tu abuela llama a tu mamá mucho?). It was awesome. At the end of the chapter, I asked kids to close their eyes and hold up 0-5 fingers for the amount that they understood (0=nothing, 5=everything), and almost every student help up three or four fingers. Success!!
Post-reading Graphic Organizer
Afterward, I gave students this graphic organizer that I created to organize the information in the chapter. I explained that not all of the names of the characters were given in the first chapter, so they would need to use the process of elimination to figure out which characters have which names. They had about 15 minutes to read back through the chapter to complete the organizer, and their completed graphic organizers proved that they did indeed understand the chapter–very few students had any errors on the worksheet. (Here is the worksheet: Esperanza chapter 1 esquema)
Day One was a huge, resounding success!! What fun it is to have great material to work with: thank you, Carol!!
I received express, written consent from the publisher to share the materials that I created and to use the cover image and title of the novel in this blog post. I am not compensated in any way by the author or publisher for writing this post.
Using novels in class:
- How should I use novels in class?
- “Is this novel REALLY Level 1?” – Which factors contribute to text complexity?
- Traffic Light Activities to keep the reading process novel
- Use speed dating to help your students find their perfect book.
- Are my students ready to read this book?
- El Nuevo Houdini lesson plans