This fall is the first time I've taught Spanish 2 for at least five years and I am thoroughly enjoying it. First of all, it is a great group of students. They are the first class of the day and I look forward to starting my day with them.
Secondly, I'm enjoying teaching them how to talk about things that happened in the past WITHOUT handing them endless piles of worksheets and conjugation charts. Forty-seven days into the semester and I haven't once mentioned "preterite" or "imperfect". Instead of telling them that the verb needs to be in the imperfect, I tell them I want them to describe what someone looked like, or was wearing, or how the person felt, or how old the person was, or what time it was. Many times I prompt them with a choice, "era alto o era bajo, estaba triste o estaba contento", etc. Because they've heard me give suggestions for possible answers many, many, many (x an enormous # of ) times, the problem of knowing when to use imperfect or preterit has diminished greatly.
I've been concentrating mainly on the él/ella form (3rd person singular) of the past tenses. In the last week or so, I have slipped in several examples in the ellos/ellas form (3rd person plural) in stories. Today I wanted to see what they could do with those forms. Yesterday we created a story and it had several examples of both of the forms mentioned above. I typed the story for them, and added space throughout the story for them to add more details. Then the students worked alone or with a partner to write the additional sentences. As they wrote I moved throughout the room, helping students and giving grammar pop-ups as necessary to individuals.
The students enjoyed the opportunity to add their own details to the story. How do I know this? They asked to share their new versions of the story with the class. I collected the papers of the groups that wanted to share, but unfortunately there was only time to read two of the stories and they asked if I could read them tomorrow.
If you want to see the format in which I provided space in the middle of the story for their input, click on the link below. I also added an activity in which I read the original story to them but this time I also was included in the story which meant they were hearing the nosotros (1st person plural) form of the verbs.
11.6.12 Story - Sp2 - focus words: fueron, hablaron con, vieron, respondieron, dijo, preguntó