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.
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”).
Today, I explained that Esperanza is not only a theme of the novel, but the name of the main character (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.
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?
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!!
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!!