Curious Reading strategies-Pt 1

I know it has been a while- Happy New Year everyone- I think I can still say that as it is still January. My last post was while visiting my Mom in the US over the holidays- since then I had 4 major deadlines stressing over my head, aside from my travels and family obligations. And of course what happens when we stress ourselves out too much? We get sick- even when we do our due diligence with vitamins and supplements. This is my first weekend I can happily report that I have no deadlines having over my head stressing me out- AND I am healthy!!! Woo hoo!!!

Now, on to more interesting stuff. One of those deadlines was getting ready for my observation. I wanted to try something different- and while I have been dabbling a bit more with comprehensible input (CI) strategies this year- and the kids always love Señor Wooly videos- I try to include as many videos the curriculum will fit in. I had been giving the pre-during-and post packets to go along with the videos- but to be honest- this seems boring. I mean, even though it is a Señor Wooly lead in/follow up- it was still a packet of worksheets.

I had done embedded readings before- and do find them to be great ways to see and use vocabulary in context. This time though I decided to try a strategy I learned from the senorwooly resources from wooly week last year. I tried the voleyball technique. It worked like a charm. Students worked in groups reading and translating through the whole text, helping each other, correcting each other, learning, asking- in short they were ALL engaged, learning, commenting and using language. If you are not a Spanish/French teacher so are not familiar with senorwooly.com, and would like more info on this effective reading strategy please let me know:)

I then decided to try another strategy from Sr. Wooly- this one called- “bunch of hunches”. This came after the the embedded reading, so they already had somewhat of a context to the vocab and story they would see. Using the picture stills of the video “los quehaceres” , I wrote up some sentences, cut up, laminated and stuffed group envelopes (I do recommend having some sort of aid for this!) the kids would then tape and match to the laminated stills on the walls. To do this, they had to read, reflect and predict. I learned my lesson after the first class did this, so for my next class, I color coordinated the sentence strips per group to make it easier for cleanup and organizational purposes. Also- the sentence strips are not specific enough to use for each video, so can be used for other videos, making prep time so much more effective. The important thing however is to keep them guessing- wondering-predicting. An example of these sentences would be: This is the most interesting/exciting/boring part of the story or “this isn’t real, it is only a dream/nightmare”. Or have sentence starters: the boy/woman is_________. They have to fill in the blanks. They then silently would go and read the wall, and try to decipher what they think this story will be about. Time permitting- write about it, discuss it, pull out some more language. Depending on the level, you can add in impersonal fragments- I think/believe that…

As they predict what the story will be about- you can write it together using conditional, future, baby future or even just the simple present. Use the pics, put it in order- practice those words of “first, 2nd, and then, finally, “etc. Then they can watch the video/movie/or whatever it is they are working towards. After- compare and contrast- the class’ version to the actual version. Which do they prefer and why?

Next- as a during or post reading/viewing strategy- who said it?/Did it? This is also a common “during” task in the Sr. Wooly packets I used to give- but then I started thinking- how can we tweak this to inspire more deeper understanding into character development, using questioning? And then I saw this post from the Comprehensible Classroom. that includes free resources for this. Of course! What if, instead of just asking, who said/did what- we also can ask- “who would have done/said…?” What a great way to practice inference and facilitate a strategy that guides students to deeper understanding of a text or character from a story, not to mention getting into more conditional tense, just because they can:)

Last strategy I will mention for today- but the list will continue I guarantee. Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) has been coming up on my radar a lot recently. This year, I also have the pleasure of teaching levels 4/5- which means- not only are they able to read and understand a good amount of Spanish children’s books, but they can also retell it.

My 3’s have just conquered the difference between imperfect and preterite, so they are also at the stage to put all of these beautiful tenses full or irregularities, into context. And what better way, than through reading?

I came across this slideshow which is a great way to get the kiddos warmed up with the idea of reading in a FL. If you don’t have children’s books in your target language- I recommend you start acquiring some, if you’d like to try FVR. Scholastic has a nice selection of Spanish children’s books, and many translated classics the kids already know. I have a small growing library in the back of the room I’ve been collecting over the years so FVR works well. Check out some interesting ideas here from a fellow educator.

As always, please leave any comments or questions, and don’t forget to follow along on the FB and Linkdein group pages: Cutlivating Curiosity in the World Language Classroom.

Happy reading!

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