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The Event is Right

October 23, 2015

Apparently I am on a reading game kick. Like I said a few days ago, I've been reading La hija del Sastre by Carrie Toth and Carol Gaab. I am in love with this novel. (I am also in love with La Calaca Alegre...maybe I am just in love with anything that Carrie Toth writes!) THIS NOVEL IS SOOOOO GOOD! It is recommended for Spanish Level 3 or 4, and it is written in the past tense with 500 unique words. I think that the novels for upper levels sometimes get lost in the shuffle because traditionally there are few upper level classes being taught at any given school. (Of course, this is likely to change as you make the switch to TCI and see retention rates increase like I did!) But man, the novels that are available to upper level students as bridges to authentic literature are simply amazing. The plots are complex and full of suspense, the characters are well-developed, and the cultural content is rich!

As I was reading Chapter 7 of La hija del Sastre, the chapter in which Ignacio (the love interest of the novel and also the antagonist) is set to return to the tailor shop where Emilia, the main character, awaits him with great anticipation. The chapter is fairly long in comparison to the other chapters in the novel, and the whole time the reader is just waiting for the door to the shop to swing open and Ignacio to walk through. I found myself wondering how I could support comprehension of a long segment of the text while maintaining engagement and adding to the anticipation of the "big event" (Ignacio's return). The longer the text that you plan to tackle in a single class period, the more support your students will need. Minds will naturally wander, and the events that happened at the beginning of the selection will be forgotten or get muddled with more recent events--especially if the text is right on the brink of comprehensibility.

So here is what I came up with: The Price Event is Right! I made a sample game board for Chapter 7 of La hija del Sastre, but blank game boards for Spanish and English are also included in the file that you can download here.

Use this game with texts that contain a highly anticipated event: something that characters in the book are looking forward to (or dreading!), but that they do not know exactly when it will happen.


  1. Begin by selecting “THE EVENT”: the anticipated event that happens at an unforeseen moment. Then, select the portion of the text that you want to work with: it could be a chapter within a book, an entire story, or a selection that spans several natural breaks (pages, chapters, etc.). The passage should be something that you will read in one class period; not something that would take you several days or more to work through.
  2. Tell students what “THE EVENT” is. If you are working with a selection from a longer text, students are probably already aware that this event is somewhere on the horizon. If you are working with a complete text, then you might need to give a little background information about the details of the event (who are the characters involved, for example). This is okay! While you are “spoiling” the fact that this event is going to happen, it will still be happening in an unanticipated way at an unanticipated time. Think of this as building anticipation; not spoiling!
  3. Give students a list of events from the passage before they read it. You can write them out exactly, or you can paraphrase them: your choice. If desired, throw in a few “imposter” events that do not occur in the text.
  4. Tell students to select which event from the list is the last one to happen before “THE EVENT”: which event is the one that immediately precedes “THE EVENT”? Think of this second-to-last event as the “price” that contestants on the game show give to Bob Barker: on the show, the winning contestant names the price that is closest to the actual price without going over. Students’ objective is to see how close they can get to the anticipated event without selecting an event that happens after it. This event is called their estimate or “Presupuesto” (even though it isn’t an actual monetary figure, I call it this to match the game show).
  5. Then, have students read through the remaining events and sort out which ones they think happen at any time before the anticipated event.


There are several different ways that you can set up this event:

  1. To make it kinesthetic, have students cut apart each of the events from the list that you give them. Have them place the event that they think happens immediately before “THE EVENT” (their “presupuesto” or estimate) in the center of their desks. Have them place any events that they think happen before that event in a column to the left of their guess. Have them place any events that they think happen after THE EVENT in a column to the right of their guess, and have them flip over any events that they think don’t actually happen in the text.
  2. Give students a printed list or grid and have them draw a star next to the event that they think immediately precedes THE EVENT (their “presupuesto” or estimate). Have them write an “A” (for Antes (before--choose a different letter to match the translation of “before” in your target language) beside any other event that they think happens before THE EVENT, but not immediately before. Have them write a “D” beside any event that they think happens after THE EVENT (“D” for “Después”, which is the Spanish translation of “After”...change the letter to match your target language). And have them cross out any event that they think is an imposter event. I like using a grid because you can project it like a gameboard, making it easiest for students to follow along!


  1. Have students write the event that they think happens immediately before “THE EVENT” (their “presupuesto” or “estimate”) on a full piece of paper or an individual whiteboard (or type it out on an iPad). Once everyone has written theirs, have them hold it up. Take time to discuss what everyone in the class has guessed!
  2. Read the text aloud to your students. They can follow along or not in their own copies of the text--your choice. Remember that it is illegal to make photocopies of a novel for students if you do not own a class set! As you read, take time to use essential TPRS®/CI skills like circling, checking for comprehension, and personalizing the content.
  3. If you have projected the events (using an electronic version of the grid or a document camera), mark off events from this list as you read them in the text.
  4. When you finally arrive at THE EVENT, stop reading! Ask students which of the events from the list happened immediately before “THE EVENT”, and you will find your winner! If several students selected the same event, look to their list of before, after, and non-events to break the tie. Which one correctly sorted the most events? You might need to finish reading the text so that you know which events are imposters in order to to break the tie.

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