Friday, November 1, 2013

Reading - Ensuring Students Understand

Chapter 7 - Fiesta Fatal
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.


  1. I love this idea! Could I possibly get a link to your journal activity? I just started the book this email is

    1. I emailed the link to you today. Let me know if you have difficulty opening the document.

  2. Thanks for all your creative ideas! could you share the journal activity. My email is

  3. I love your diary idea, new spin on things. Could you send me your document? My address is ¡Mil gracias!

  4. Thank you so very much for all your hard work and sharing of materials. I am quite new to TCI and have been learning from wonderful blogs like yours. This is my first time teaching from novels and your resources are truly life-and time-savers. If you are willing to part with the journal activity link, may I please have a copy? janetlhu at gmail dot com !!Mil gracias!!

  5. thank you for always sharing your materials!! would you be willing to send me the journal document, please? I would be so grateful!!

    1. I emailed it to you today. Sorry for the delay in sending it.