I need to make an FAQ page. Here is one that came through today:
…I was looking at your website and I was curious if you teach the “nosotros” or “ustedes” forms in Spanish 1. If so, is there a certain unit in which you teach it?Thanks!
The answer is, “YES, absolutely!” I don’t have a specific time that I teach them, and I introduce them like I do all verb forms: naturally through pop-up grammar as they appear in story asking, and (2) strategically through horizontal conjugations. All subjects and most tense make appearances in Spanish 1 as students co-create the class stories with me, and I explain them to students and give reminders as they impact meaning. Strategically, I target all subjects of present tense verbs in Spanish 1 through horizontal conjugations. While some horizontal conjugations are built into my unit plans, most of them are extra-unit exercises based on student free writes. Like most TPRS®/CI teachers, I do free writes from time to time in my classes–it used to be every week, but quite frankly the grading was a little much for me to handle, so I trimmed it down to once every two weeks or so. Students have other writing assignments, and I can’t not read something that they write and turn in (both because it’s dishonoring to them and for legal issues–if they were to write about abuse or something like that, for example, and I didn’t read it thoroughly)…and when you have students that write as much as students in TCI classes do…well, you need a lot of time to read it. I digress…
As I was saying, I do free writes from time to time (normal free writes, 1-3-10 free writes, BINGO free writes…there are so many options!). Free writes are wonderful for many reasons, not the least of which is the never-ending fount of content with which they provide you. If you want ideas for how you can use student free writes in your lesson planning, read this post. To respond to the question at hand, I type up one of their free writes every so often and project it for the class to read. We may do an activity with it; we may not. At the very least, I will circle target structures, personalize the content, check for comprehension, and do pop-up grammar as we read. [If you are unfamiliar with the aforementioned strategies, click here.] After we read it, I’ll say “Hey guys, let’s do a horizontal conjugation!” I assign a subject [or tense; but that isn’t common for me in Spanish 1], I explain or remind students about what changes will need to be made for that subject (ex: if changing to the first-person singular “yo” perspective, every él changes to yo, -e’s and -a’s on the ends of verbs change to -o’s, su changes to mi, etc.). Sometimes, we do them together with me making the changes at the board; other times, students work on it individually or with partners at their seats. In that case, I model the first sentence or so, then set the students to work. I monitor the students, and after a little while I model the next sentence to make sure they are on the right track. Then they work some more, and eventually I review the whole thing with them. The student whose free write was used for the activity feels warm fuzzier for having written something so wonderful as to have been included in the lesson, and the other students in the class are happy to have a break from my thoughts.
I have never sat down and strategically planned when to target each subject with horizontal conjugations, but I do it often enough and early enough for me to hit each of them before I start giving verb notes…which I do give, even though it is typically frowned upon by TPRS®/CI masters. I give formal -AR verb conjugation notes after I’ve done at least one horizontal conjugation with each subject and all subjects have appeared in PQA, story asking, Movie Talks, Embedded Readings, and other forms of Comprehensible Input. All grammar notes that I give consist of a VERY short grammatical explanation followed by a reading that contains targeted instances of the topic at hand. In my experience, if the grammar-speak is BRIEF, it is not detrimental/overwhelming to students, and it allows my students to at least see a verb chart before they go on to other teachers in upper levels. Then, we quickly get back to comprehensible input with the targeted reading and activities. I digress again…
SO all that to say that, while I don’t have an exact plan for when I do horizontal conjugations of each subject, I realize that it would be helpful and even beneficial to teachers that are still trying to figure this whole thing out to have a plan. And so, I give you….LA CRIATURA! A short reading that could be used after Unit 6, ¡Siéntate!, of my Spanish 1 curriculum map to target the nosotros verb forms. The file contains a PPT of the reading and a student worksheet, along with instructions that walk you through completing it in class. I’ll add more suggested horizontal conjugations to the curriculum map as i have time to create them.
If anyone wants to translate this into another language…go for it! Just please send the translation to me via email so that I can share it with other teachers on this blog. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to use this reading for a horizontal conjugation–you can use it in any way that you see fit. Or you could use it as a horizontal conjugation for a different tense or perspective…do what you want, it’s yours!