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Mouse in the house!

January 1, 2016

As luck would have it, mice began to seek shelter from the harsh Alaska winter just a few weeks before midterms back in 2012. I saw them everywhere! Running across my kitchen counters, scampering along the walls of my living room, and dashing under the shelves each time that I opened my garage door.

My house was occupied.

Connect to students by sharing your stories

Since I was planning to use Rodrigo Blaas' short film “Alma” as the basis for my Spanish II midterm exam, recounting the terrifying experience of discovering and addressing the mouse infestation in our home was the perfect way for me to tell my woeful tale and help my students acquire structures that they would need in order to be successful on the midterm. I call that a Spanish teacher win!

Telling your stories creates an emotional connection

I told the story to my students with great emotion, and they were hanging on the edge of their seats (well, most of them, anyway). It of course helped that I showed students photos of each of the dead mice: gross!

But what if it's not your story?

That being said, it is not your story and it won’t feel authentic for you to tell it to your students as if it were. For that reason, I typed up the story for your students to read as they would any other text in your class. Since you won't be telling the story orally as I did, increasing repetitions of the structures through circling and comprehension checks and personalizing it, I recommend introducing the key vocabulary for this story to your students with some good old fashioned PQA before giving them the reading. PQA stands for Personalized Questions and Answers, and in a nutshell it is a class discussion in which the goal is for everyone to understand the conversation!

The vocabulary in this Ratones en casa story that will be recycled on the Alma exam includes “estantes(shelves) and “había (there was/there were), but “puso” (s/he put) is also a target structure in this story. The story also recycles many Core Vocabulary words that we had worked with throughout the semester (like “me acerqué a” and “vi que había” from Unit 2 of my Spanish II curriculum). 

Discussion questions for the mouse story

Some easy questions to discuss with your students that will serve as hooks for the story are:

  • Were there [mice/scorpions/spiders/snakes] in your house last year?
  • Where in your house did you see them?
  • What did you do/how did you react when you saw them?
  • How many [mice/scorpions/spiders/snakes] were there?
  • How did you catch them? *try to find a student that used traps!
  • Did you put traps [in the closet/on the shelves in the pantry/on the floor in the basement]? *try to find a student that put traps on shelves!
  • Did you put traps [in the closet/on the shelves in the pantry/on the floor in the basement]? *try to find a student that put traps on shelves!

Repetitive stories support comprehension

The great thing about this TRUE story is that it is filled with natural repetition, and so by simply reading it, students will have many comprehensible repetitions of the Core Vocabulary words. If you follow it up with some story activities (like the ones found in my blog archives), students will acquire the structures even if you don’t spend time before the story doing PQA.

Make connections to other stories

If you are looking for more resources for Spanish II, be sure to check out this Ricitos de Oro (Goldilocks) reading that I finally formatted and uploaded yesterday. I always gave the printable booklet to my students as a just-for-fun reading after we finished Unit 2, but I added a bunch of comprehension activities so that you can use it as an actual lesson if you want.

Click on image to access Ricitos de Oro reading's 9:14pm on New Year's Eve here in AK, and since my husband is sick and my kids are in bed...I'm going to sit here at my computer to see just how close I can get to finishing my 2015 resolution of going paperless. Blessings to you this year!

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