Saturday, February 10, 2018

ESPERANZA the novel: Ideas and Resources

Esperanza novel  - Fluency Matters
One of the novels in my Spanish 4 curriculum is Esperanza, written by Carol Gaab. I selected this book for Spanish 4 because:

1. It is an easy read for my Spanish 4 students. I chose it as our first class novel of the semester because I want the students to feel successful right from the start of Spanish 4.
2. It is based on a true, compelling story about a family that fled Guatemala.
3. Using it at a higher level allows me to include resources about immigration, strikes, etc. that need minimal scaffolding.
4. I love learning about Guatemala, a country that is on my bucket list. This semester is really fun because two of my students went on mission trips to Guatemala with their church, so we're able to learn from their first-hand experiences.

For Esperanza, I rely heavily on the Teacher's Guide by Fluency Matters. I especially like the cultural readings and suggestions for discussions before each chapter.

In addition to the Teacher's Guide, here are several lessons and activities that I use before reading the book and during the reading.

1. Discussions (in Spanish) on strikes.
    - Ask students to write two lists; in one list write 5 businesses/organizations that you would not care if they went on strike and 5 business/organizations that you would be upset if they went on strike. The students readily participate in this conversation.

     - Watch or tell the story "Clic Clac Mu, Vacas Escritoras". I use the video on   Discovery Streaming. Then we follow-up with what would happen if farmers went on strike; the effects are far-reaching!

      - What would happen if your mother went on strike? The Canadian mother in THIS ARTICLE did. Before we read this, I ask students what they do to help around the house, who in the family does the most house work, etc. 

2. Previous knowledge of GuatemalaAsk students to make a list of things they already know about Guatemala. Then show them Ricardo Arjona's music video "Mi País". THIS is the Pepsi version but there are others of the song without Pepsi products shown throughout.
This morning I learned about this video by Gaby Moreno filmed in Guatemala

3. Guatemalan LegendThe currency in Guatemala is quetzales. Quetzales are mentioned when the aunt gives the mother money and again when the mother pays the men on the bus. 

After reading chapter 5, I "story listen" (story tell) the Guatemalan legend, "Quetzal no muere nunca". Telling this story, usually takes 30 minutes or more. After I tell a part of the story, I pause, tell students to tell their partner in English what happened, and then I chose one person to tell the whole class what happened, in English. If you want to try telling this story, don't get hung up on the fact that they're retelling increments of the story in English. It is actually a refreshing break for them and it ensures all understand. 

There are many ways to review the story after telling it if you want to recycle the words and structures again, such as Marker Partner Plus. One of my FAVORITE follow-ups with this story happens when a student is absent on the day I tell the story. Since the returning absent student has not heard the story, I  put the entire class in charge of telling the story to the student in Spanish. The student that was absent and I are the only two that can talk in English. 

Two days ago my Sp4 class had to retell the story to two students that had been absent. I was amazed at what they remembered and how well they worked together to tell the story in Spanish. Out of 20 students that were present to tell the story, I think all but 3 at some point joined in the retell, many times several students were raising their hands to continue the story where their classmate had stopped. Granted, that type of participation in the retell doesn't always happen, but when it does - WOW, sit back and enjoy it!

4. Password. After reading chapter 6, I compiled a list of key words, mostly from chapter 6 but from other chapters too. I'll write a new blog post to explain how we play Password and link it here. 
Hint for planning: schedule this activity for the end of the class period to monitor how long they play. If you don't they'll want to play the whole class period. 

5. Game Smashing with word clouds. I made this game based on chapters 6 and 7 of Esperanza. Refer to this post for the directions. I used a similar game for my students in Spanish 2 and it was a success.  

I had planned to use the game for Esperanza below on Friday, but the students were doing such an excellent job of retelling the story of Quetzal no muere nunca (see #3 above) that I needed to move this activity to next week. 
The game is made and ready to go and I can't wait to try it out with my Spanish 4 students.

6. Put things in perspective. This is an interesting visual to use while reading Esperanza. It is easy for us to forget what 'luxuries' we have in comparison to the majority of the people in the world. 

Click HERE to find it on Pinterest.

7. Si tuvieras que inmigrar a otro país...
I give each student a small slip of paper and they write "Si tuviera que inmigrar a otro país, yo inmigraría a _____, porque ______." I collect the papers and read their answers. The students have three guesses for who wrote the sentence. If they're right, I put those papers on one pile and if they're wrong, I put those on another pile. After the first round, I re-read those the students did not guess correctly for a another chance to figure out who wrote the answer read.

This is an easy way for your students to learn more about their classmates and even find out that they may have some things in common they didn't know about.

My lesson plan for teaching Esperanza is a living document, in that I make additions and subtractions with the purpose to continue improving it. As I find new materials that will enhance the lessons and the students' experience of reading the novel, I add them and, in delete activities from previous years when I find something better to replace it.

For more ideas and resources, you should definitely check out:
 Martina Bex's blog, The Comprehensible Classroom 
 Sharon Birch's blog El Mundo de Birch
 Alison Wienhold's blog Mis Clases Locas
 Elena Lopez' blog Aprendemos Juntos 

Follow this link for information on a verbal book report that I used to do after reading the book. I did not assign this to the students last semester and have not decided if I will assign it this semester. I 'm sharing it because it may spark ideas for you on what you want to do after finishing the novel.

If you are willing to share activities and resources that you have found to be helpful when teaching this novel, I'd love to hear them!



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