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Teaching La Calaca Alegre - Chapters 1-5

To finish the year, Spanish 4 is reading the novel La Calaca Alegre by Carrie Toth. I have only taught the novel once before, with Spanish 4 last year. I have the wonderful teacher's guide and realized that the fist time through last year I must have just been flying by the seat of my pants, pulling questions day by day from the teacher's guide and projecting them. It was my first year with novels and was teaching them in four separate classes at once for the first time, just trying to survive. 

This year I spent some time putting together a big Google Slide show with chapter by chapter questions and activities. For each chapter I have pre reading, during reading, and post discussion questions included. We do not necessarily discuss every question, but I project them to spark discussion, and the whole slide show is posted on Schoology for absent students. This is especially nice during track season with students leaving early multiple times a week. Students know if they are gone, they should read the next chapter and complete the accompanying questions. This slide show is where I also put links to additional videos, resources, and activities that supplement what we are discussing. It helps to keep me focused and able to pull up the day's plans easily. I find it much easier to plan a whole unit at once, and it ultimately saves a lot of time.


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Introducing La Calaca Alegre
  • Just like last year we started with a discussion on Identity. As I discuss in this post, I used pictures of me in high school to talk about my high school identity, as well as pictures of me now to show how my idea of my identity has changed. 
  • Students created a single PicMonkey collage or Google slide using pictures that represent their identity. 
  • I projected these collages and each student talked for about a minute in Spanish about their identity through these pictures. 
Chapter 1
  • Now that students have done their Literature Circles, they are much more independent readers in Spanish. They read chapter 1 on their own, and then we discussed it as a class. 
  • As a review the next day, I projected the chapter 1 word cloud from the teachers guide. Students did a 5 minute free write retelling the first chapter using the world cloud. They shared these at their table and we discussed it as a class. 
Chapter 2
  • To introduce the vocab we tried out Quizlet Live for the first time with vocab from chapter 2. We used these terms from Darcy Pippens & Christine Clark. The students and I had both never tried it, but it was a great team building way to introduce or review vocab. 
  • I read the chapter to the class, discussing questions as we went. 
Chapter 3
  • Students read the chapter in groups and then we discussed it as a class. 
  • To review the next day, students put 10 events from the chapter in order using the manipulatives from the teacher's guide. 
  • We also did a reader's theater, acting out the restaurant and car scenes from the teacher's guide. Students love the chance to dig into the prop box. 
  • We used the food slide show to talk about Mexican food. 
Chapter 4
  • Students read the chapter alone and then we discussed it as a class. 
  • Individually, student retold the night Angelica disappeared, using the word cloud from the teacher's guide. 
  • Students completed a chapter quiz informally together to see their comprehension so far. 
Chapter 5
  • We read and discussed the chapter. Most of the small class decided to sit together and take turns reading out loud. A few others chose to read alone. 
  • The class got to chose either a chapter 5 quizlet or chapter 5 Kahoot to review.
  • We discussed the mural Gulliver by Hector Duarte. We watched the Duarte Interview, while students followed along with the transcript (all provided in the teacher's guide). They worked together to answer comprehension questions from the interview. 
  • Students also read through the murals of Pilsen slideshow. 
I plan to continue with this series as we read with posts on chapters 6-10 & 11-15. Here are all posts with the label La Calaca Alegre.

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