My Spanish 4 has started their second novel this year. They are reading Vida y Muerte de la Mara Salvatrucha after studying El Salvador Civil War for about three weeks. You can see what my class did here. With our last novel (Esperanza), students completed a choice project board via Elizabeth Dentlinger so I knew I wanted to do something similar with this book. I decided that I would do smash doodles with my students which both Martina Bex mentioned in her blog in addition to Elizabeth Dentlinger. I LOVED what Elizabeth created so I used her format and rubric. I wanted to add that students write sentences from the perspective of one of the characters so I added that portion to her rubric.
Along with the smash doodles, my students are also doing a Twitter Feed a la Carrie Toth. Students have been very creative with names. The anonymous author is referred to @fantasma (ghost) and the mom is referred to as @mamamuerta (dead mom). They take things very seriously which is great to see. I love that students are being creative and having fun with the language.
As I mentioned in my previous blog on how I began Vida y Muerte, I am not very creative in that I have been using ideas from other people’s blogs. I have the older teaching guide which offers a lot (The new, updated one should be coming out soon!), but I have mostly been referencing Carrie’s posts. What I did for each chapter so far is as follows:
Prologue: I was subbing for one of our assistant principals so I had students read the prologue and then answer comprehension questions about the different sections.
Before we read chapter one, I introduced the twitter feed assignment as well as the smash doodle project. I also had a list of vocabulary for each chapter that I gave my students. We will be filling this in as we go so we can ask questions, circle and personalize the chapters.
Chapter 1- Mi iniciación: We went through vocabulary and I gave some practice sentences. We then went into reading chapter 1 where I asked questions throughout. I allowed the rest of the class period to be spent working on smash doodles for chapter 1.
Chapter 2- Mi madre: We went through vocabulary. We followed that by reading chapter 2 where we discussed the events of the chapter. I allowed the rest of the class period to be spent working on smash doodles for chapter 2.
Chapter 3- Mi padre: We went through vocabulary and jumped right into chapter 3. I started by asking “What are characteristics of an Ideal Dad? Students posted their ideas on the white board and then we read chapter 3. After reading the chapter, the same groups listed characteristics if the author’s dad. Students compared and contrasted in their groups as well as, as a class. There was a lot of discussion on whether or not the author’s father was loving and many argued that he was because the kids knew he did. As mentioned earlier, I love watching students understand and use the language to fit their points of view. Find Carrie’s blog post for Chapter 3 here.
Between chapter 3 and chapter 4, students listened to the song Tu cárcel performed by Los Enanitos Verdes. Crystal Barragán had an excellent activity for this which you can find here.
Chapter 4- Gustavo: I used this chapter as a reading assessment. You can find the reading assessment here. (Thanks Carrie)
As we were reading chapter 4, I noticed that my students had a lot of questions on sudden and descriptive past endings so before starting chapter 5, we took a break and did some review. I pulled sentences from the different chapters that showcased sudden past and descriptive past separately. We discussed endings and how endings convey meaning. We spent about two full days on review.
Chapter 5- Mi primera misión: Today I had students read chapter 5 either alone or with a partner. After everyone finished reading, I placed my students into pre-planned groups. I then passed out Carrie’s Conversation Circles Sheet. Students spent the rest of the period holding three minute conversations as I walked around and took a speaking grade. It was very easy for me to listen in on conversations and not only listen to language usage, but also hear the content of the novel I will definitely be repeating this activity.
Tomorrow, I plan to use different pictures to allow for some more discussion to also have students create an interview with the author. (Again, you find all this great stuff on Carrie’s blog). Students are really getting into the book and I cannot wait for them to get into the ‘juicy’ part of the novel. Stay tuned for more!