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A simple story for beginning language students

April 6, 2015

Always greet students at the door!

For the second year in a row, I participated in a local "Kids 2 College" program. It's a day when local 5th graders visit the community college and take college classes so that they can see what college is like. The funny thing is that I teach the Spanish classes, and I am not the Spanish professor at the college. I think they'll be in for a rude awakening in 8 years!!

If you want to see the lesson that I taught last year, click here. This year, I switched it up a bit. I don't like to teach "wants" and "has" at the same time because the structures sound similar and are easily confused. Instead, I smushed together the first two units that I teach to my Spanish 1 students, "Dice" and "Camina o corre". It went over well, but I decided later that I should have left out the words "boy" and "girl" in order to further limit the vocabulary. I trimmed out those words from the resources that I am sharing in this post because I think that this single lesson will be more successful without them.

Here's what I did:

Teach a few basic "rules" of story asking:

I taught students to keep their eyes on me, listen to understand, how I would get their attention, how to respond to new information, and how to let me know when they don't understand.

Introduce Core Vocabulary

I wrote each word on the board (well, I projected them actually) in black and blue (black for Spanish, blue for English) and said the Spanish aloud while pointing to the English, and I showed the students a gesture for each structure that they mimicked. The structures were "this is", "walks", "sees", and "says". I used "walks" instead of "goes" because in Spanish the two words are very similar ("va" and "ve") and students mix them up easily if they are introduced in the same story.

I started by introducing the structures to students. I later decided that I shouldn't have taught "boy" and "girl" today; instead, I should have just used names. Too much vocab for one lesson!


I used this script (I've shortened it since I decided that I should have left out boy/girl): This is Bobby. Bobby is intelligent.  This is Mary. Mary is athletic. Bobby walks to Mat-Su College. Mary walks to Mat-Su College. Bobby sees Mary. Mary doesn't see Bobby. Mary sees a moose. Mary says, "Bobby, a moose!" Bobby sees the mooseBobby says, "Hi moose" and walks with the moose to Mat-Su College. If you want to know how to use a story script for story asking, please click here

There's always one...this kid had a hilarious response every time that I "fished for a detail" during story asking

Using gestures is a great way to support comprehension--just make sure that you establish meaning FIRST! And...a cognate isn't a cognate unless you can read it: write your cognates on the board, because an untrained ear can't hear the connection between L1 and L2. In this case, I used the cognate "atlético".

I had some great actors--the boy on the far right would have won a cheese award if this had been my real class!

Shared Reading

I projected the reading, "El secreto de Ramón" slide by slide. I read each slide in Spanish aloud, then I pointed to each word as students gave the English translation. I pointed to the words in the order in which it makes sense to read them in English, even though I pointed to them out of order in Spanish. For example, in the sentence "es una chica inteligente", I would point to "es / una / inteligente / chica" so that it makes sense to the students and so that students learn that it's okay to re-arrange the words in your head as you are trying to understand a text. As we read, I asked circling and personalizing questions, and I checked for comprehension. If you are unfamiliar with these three key TPRS®/CI strategies, please click here to learn about them.

I also left my handy dandy laser pointer at home, rats! It makes choral reading and translation so much easier because I am not tied to the board!

Sentence Flyswatter

I just read about Sentence Flyswatter on Keith Toda's blog, and he learned the activity from Jason Fritze (of course--I think all great activities can be traced back to Jason!). Of course, in the rush of getting out of the house with the kids to drop them off with a sitter while I was gone, I forgot my flyswatters! I had to make do with these ruler-and-cardstock stand-ins. I just took the pictures from each slide of the reading, put four on each screen, and then described one in Spanish. Representatives from 2 teams had to race to the board to "swat" the picture that I described.

Running Dictation

I did this basic form of the dictation without the illustration extension. 

All in all, a super fun day that left me feeling exhausted and without a voice. If you want to try out story asking for the first time or are looking for a super simple review story for your beginning Spanish students, you can download the slideshow reading and game resources that I used in our Subscriber Library, in the First Days of School folder.

I sent the kids home with a printout of the reading. Click on the image to download the slideshow, games, and reading printout!

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