Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hija del sastre Capítulo 1

I’m finishing the year with my Spanish 2 students (they are 8th graders and have had beginning Spanish in 6th and level 1 Spanish in 7th grade) by reading “La Hija del Sastre”.  My classes, like everyone’s, consist of a very diverse group of students with some able to read at a mid-advanced level and others who struggle at a mid-novice level with their reading comprehension skills. Going into the novel, I knew I was going to have to provide a lot of support in order to make it comprehensible and valuable experience for my students. 

I wanted to share my experiences in teaching this novel in the spirit of giving back  (teacher bloggers have been my number one go-to resource for generating ideas) and also as a reflection exercise for next year.  

Chapter 1
Day 1 
I started the novel by giving my students some information from Chapter 1, namely that the main character learns about a secret her parents have, and asking them to draw a personal connection to this bit of information. My warm up activity for the first day was:

1. En capítulo uno de la hija del sastre, Emilia, el protagonista, aprende que sus padres tienen un secreto. En tu familia, ¿tú tienes secretos que no dices a tus padres o a tus hermanos? ¿Piensas que tus padres tienen secretos? ¿Piensas que hay ocasiones cuando no es buena idea decir la verdad?

After sharing out from the warm up activity- I sometimes do this simply by using equity cards or sometimes I have students turn and talk to each other and then ask students what their neighbors said- I introduced three new vocabulary structures for the chapter.

2. I still use MartinaBex’s Dictionary Pages for students to copy vocabulary. They copied the following three structures in their pages:

       Se convirtió: S/he became
       Creció: S/he grew
       Sobrevivir: To survive

3. Again following Bex’s formula for many of her units, I gave my students some translation sentences to practice and followed up with personal questions.

4. Once we had our vocabulary down I had my students complete a short writing activity. I had them think about the warm-up activity and the vocabulary we had learned and to write a short prediction of what they thought would happen in Chapter 1 of La hija del sastre. This served as our exit slip and wrapped up our first class nicely.

Day 2
1. Warm-Up: Students did a short translation using the vocabulary structures from the day before:

Jason creció en Washington DC durante las 60s. En DC habían mucha gente que protestaban la guerra de Vietnam durante esta época (time). Después de la secundaria, Jason se convirtió en soldado y fue a Vietnam. Afortunadamente, Jason sobrevivió la guerra y regresó a DC.

2. Introduction of new vocabulary: I wanted to pre-teach three more structures that I thought would be really helpful not only in understanding Chapter 1 but also work in terms of facilitating more in-depth discussion about the Chapter and it’s themes. I gave students the following three structures:

       Ayudaba en el taller: S/he helped in the workshop
       Pasaba mucho tiempo: S/he spent a lot of time
       Habían luchado: They/You all had fought / struggled

3. Practice: Like the day before, we followed up the new vocabulary with some short translations and practice questions. This go round, each time we arrived at a question I had students turn and talk with their neighbors before calling on students to share their answers. 


  • La maestra ayudaba a los estudiantes en el taller de gramática. 
  • A.J. ayudaba a los jóvenes en el taller de guitarra clásica. 
  • Olivia y Alejandra eran mejores amigas y pasaban mucho tiempo juntas. 
  • Antes de convertirse en doctor, Enrique pasaba mucho tiempo estudiando.
  • Los republicanos habían luchado contra General Franco en la guerra. 
  • Las mujeres habían luchado por el derecho de votar en este país. 

Turn and Talk: 
¿Has tomado un taller de arte, escritura, música? ¿Cómo te pareció? ¿Piensas que los talleres nos ayudan a aprender más o prefieres trabajar sólo?

¿Pasabas más tiempo estudiando en el grado sexto o el grado séptimo? ¿Has pasado mucho tiempo estudiando este año? ¿Piensas que pasarás mucho tiempo estudiando en la secundaria?

¿Piensas que a veces es necesario luchar por las causas? ¿Tus padres o familiares han luchado por una causa? 

4. Reading: Finally, after six new vocabulary structures, I thought my classes were ready to begin reading. I put students in strategic pairs with students needing a lot of extra support partnered with higher-level readers who were able and willing to assist. I gave students the reading guide I had created (below) and had them work together to read through Chapter one and complete the first page of the guide.
Day 3 1. Warm Up: I had students describe a picture using the six vocabulary structures from the past two days. Students shared out from their writing as I checked off the vocabulary structures, as they used them, on the board.

2. Review: I wanted to begin the instruction with a review of what they had read from the day before. So, I asked all students to take out their reading comprehension guides and we began to review the characters by playing ¿Quién es? (I wrote up a short description of each character and the students had to tell me who each person is in the story).

3. Partner Review: Our objective for the class today was to write a summary of the Chapter one (both in order to demonstrate comprehension and also to practice writing) and I wanted to give my students as much writing help as possible. I asked students to form the same pairs as they did the day before when they were reading Chapter one and I gave them Martina Bex’s “Los cinco elementos de un cuento” (an invaluable resource for writing summaries and demonstrating comprehension).  Students were given about ten minutes to work together to identify the elements. We reviewed them as a class before moving along to the writing activity. 

4. Writing: The last fifteen minutes of class students spent individually writing a summary of Chapter one on their reading comprehension guides.

Day 4 
One of the things I struggle the most with in my classes is how to give effective, meaningful feedback that improves learning. Grading is one of my least favorite activities as a teacher but I know both from my own experience as a student and from research, how valuable feedback can be and how essential it is to the learning process. I have, however, run into several logistical hurdles when trying to evaluate and comment on student work. First among these problems is: How can I grade 120 writing prompts and do anything else including plan for lessons, eat, sleep, etc.? Also, how can I get students to think about the feedback they’ve received and use it to improve future work? I mean we’re talking middle school here. My students are accustomed to seeing a check on work and shoving the work in the binder or trash bin where it is never to be seen again.  This was what I was up against while planning today’s activity. How can I use the summaries that the students wrote yesterday to not only review the chapter’s events but also improve students’ writing ability?

I decided first of all not to grade all of the student summaries. There was no way I could get it done in one night and I also believed that if I could involve my students somehow in the evaluation process (instead of doing it all myself) they would be much more likely to internalize any feedback they were given. I started by reading through the summaries to get a general idea of the writing abilities in each class. I chose one summary per class that I thought was accurate in terms of content but that embodied the types of errors that were commonplace in that particular class. I then typed the summary up and created both student handouts and PPT slide.  

1. Warm Up: I had several reading comprehension questions from the Hija del sastre Teacher’s Guide up on the PPT and had students write their answers in complete sentences. As students were working, I walked around the classroom reading students answers and giving feedback to individual feedback to students. 

2. I gave all students a copy of the summary I had chosen for that particular class and projected the summary on the whiteboard. I gave students about three minutes to read over the summary. Then, I asked students to turn to their neighbors and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the summary (turn and talk). After about two minutes, I started to call on students to share out from their discussions and as I wrote their commentary on the board next to the projected summary.

3. I then asked students to take out their Correction Guide for Written Work. I asked students to spend two minutes identifying any mistakes they found in the first sentence and assigning each mistake a number from the grid. (This activity could be done individually or in pairs. Originally, we did it individually but I think in the future I’ll do it in pairs just to make the lesson a bit more interactive.) Then, as a class, we reviewed and re-wrote the first sentence correcting all the identified errors. We repeated this process for the next two sentences.

4. Next, I gave students about five minutes to read through and identify errors in the rest of the summary. At this point there were about four more sentences. I walked around the class looking at student work and helping to direct the process where I could. Then, I handed out my version of the corrected summary and had students compare their work with mine.

5. Finally, I had students re-write the summary making the corrections to the errors we had indicated.

Things I’ll do differently next time:

In step 2, I ‘d give students questions to help structure the commentary on the student summary. For example:

·      ¿El autor falta información importante en el resumen?
·      ¿Ha incluido todos los elementos de un cuento (los personajes, conflicto, escenario, etc.?
·      ¿Los errores lo hacen el resumen difícil de leer?
·      ¿Cuáles tipos de errores son lo más frecuentes?

After students have re-written the summary correcting the indicated errors, I’d like to have students exchange papers and correct each other’s writing.

Day 5
I wanted to give my students some background on the Spanish Civil War and, since we’d had a lot of direct instruction this week, I wanted to provide an opportunity for some cooperative learning, so I created a Jigsaw Reading activity from the Spanish Civil War Reading in the Teacher’s Guide.
1. Warm Up: Not feeling particularly creative this week, I did a repeat of Wednesday’s Warm Up using some additional vocabulary structures. Students described another image (from the internet, of course) using the following words:

Habían peleado
Pasaban mucho tiempo

2. I split students into five different groups and gave each group a different section of the reading as well as comprehension questions for all sections of the reading. I gave student groups five minutes to read their section (out loud) and answer the questions that corresponded to their section. As they were completing this activity, I gave one person from each group a laminated gold star.

3. After five minutes, the person with the star rotated to the nearest group in a clockwise direction. That person was responsible for explaining what their section was about and helping their new group to answer the corresponding comp questions. The group, in turn, then had to explain to their new member their own section and questions. Todo en español, ¡obviamente!

4. We repeated this process until the students with gold stars were back at their original groups.

5. I followed up the Jigsaw activity with a brief PPT on the Spanish Civil War during which we reviewed the comprehension questions.

1 comment:

  1. I love your plans for the first Chapter of La Hija del Sastre, would you be willing to share your Spanish Civil War jigsaw reading activity or PPT with me? I am creating a unit using this book and would love to do an activity like that!