As I have probably stated before, when I read mini-novels with my students, I want the students to understand the storyline. I know from experience, that if I ask the students if they understand, some will say yes even when they don't. My job is to ensure they really do understand.
After reading chapter 7 of Fiesta Fatal, the book I'm piloting for Mira Canion, I created a review activity of the main character's journal. Some of the statements are taken directly from the chapter, others are thoughts that Vanesa might say or think, and others are statements that are not true. Students read the statements and checked the ones that match Vanesa's character.
Chapter 9 - Fiesta Fatal
In the last few years, I have moved away from grammar lectures and have replaced them with many short pauses in conversation and reading to point out and/or ask questions why something is written the way it is. My students do not specifically know the terms imperfect and preterite, but they are beginning to write the correct tense when needed. To sharpen that skill, I tried a new activity in which I could quickly assess their progress.
First, I gave each student a page from the newspaper, folded to make it more manageable. Since newspapers are a good source of information, the newspaper represented background information. I also gave them a copy of a ticket to a Lucha Libre event that I made online. Lucha Libre is entertainment similar to WWE, which means it is an event filled with a lot of action.
Then I read the chapter to the students. They closed their eyes and when I said a statement which included information (imperfect), they held up the newspaper, and for a statement that described a specific action of one of the characters (preterit), they held up the Lucha Libre ticket. It didn't take long for me to see which students were consistently answering correctly and which students were unsure and were making more errors.
After the newspaper/Lucha Libre ticket exercise, I gave them a paper with sentences that they read and then wrote I (for información) or A (for acción).
The newspaper/ticket activity can be used with any book or story. Choose something to represent the two different past tenses that are related to the storyline and choose a reading that has a good mix of both tenses.
Both activities described above are good reviews of the chapter for the students, and also will enable you to better identify which students are struggling and need extra support.