Friday, September 4, 2015

I CAN Statements with Novels

Reading is a important element of the Spanish curriculum at my school district.  In each level of language, which equals 100 (+/-) hours of class time, students read 2-3 novels.  With the small number of classroom instruction available to us per language level, I am constantly evaluating and re-evaluating our curriculum to make sure we are using that time wisely.  In regards to reading novels, I used to ask myself how can I demonstrate that reading a specific book has helped move the students forward in their language acquisition and understanding of the culture?  

Last December, I created I Can Statements for students to check off after we created several class stories, read parallel stories from previous years, personalized information to the students in the class, and completed several MovieTalks.  The I Can Statements provided a clear list for the students of what they could do after completing the "unit".  (More detailed information about the I Can Statements can be found HERE.  To be clear, the statements are not directly related to ACTFL's CAN DO statements, but were inspired after my chat with Michele Whaley at ACTFL14.) 

After using the I Can Statements with my students, I started thinking about how I could do something similar for the novels that we read in class.  

Below are I Can Statements I made last spring for the book  Fiesta Fatal by Mira Canion.  

Chapters 1-5 (link to doc): 
Chapters 6-10 (link to doc):
Fiesta Fatal begins in Mexico, with references to towns in Mexico, markets, azoteas, quinceañeras, transportation, and other related culture.  The I Can Statements include information on culture, as well as specific statements related to students' language abilities such as retells, making predictions, listening skills, and comparing.

The I Can Statements help the students, parents, and administration see the benefits of reading novels in the second language.  One option is to revise the documents to add lines for parent signatures.  For example, add 7 lines for a parent to initial, but only 5 of the 7 need to be initialed.  The students choose 5 of the 7 to demonstrate their skill to a parent. I think parents will enjoy hearing their son or daughter speaking in Spanish, even if they don't understand what they're saying.

I have similar documents started for the other novels we read in class, but I still need to create the sketches to go with them and finish the documents.  They would be completed at this time, but . . . I've become hooked on reading popular fiction novels in Spanish (como: La Chica del Tren, Perdida, La Ladrona de Libros, Ve y Pon un Centinela,) and there are many others on my shelf or on Amazon calling my name.  :-)   


  1. Wow, I absolutely love these I Can Statements! So succinct and practical. Do you mind if I adapt your examples as a template for Latin (although we do not have any Latin novels yet, I can use them for readings)?

    1. Sure. Adapt it for however it works for you and your classes.
      Isn't it about time that YOU write a novel for Latin teachers to use? 😊

  2. We're planning on starting with Fiesta Fatal as our first novel this year. I love this idea! This will help a lot!! Thanks!

  3. WoW So glad I found this post! I am struggling to figure out I Can's for my level 4 students and an end of novel assessment. Any thoughts on how to use the I Can's and how to assess at the end of a novel?

    Thanks so much! Happy Thanksgiving!