Individual Novel Study in Spanish Class - pt. 2 - Mis Clases Locas

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Teaching with Novels

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Individual Novel Study in Spanish Class - pt. 2

Earlier I posted about Individual Novel Study in Spanish 4 for the fourth quarter. Overall I think it went great. It is a perfect option for classes that would like to read in Spanish, but do not have class novel sets. In a perfect world, multiple students would read the same book, literature circle style, which would then discuss as a group. Yet, with my experimental group, having all students read different novels actually worked. They had complete choice in what they read, which led to higher interest and engagement. 
Individual Novel Study in Spanish class - part 2

I was able to purchase a variety of children's books and novels in Spanish with my awesome IWLA Grant, which is what we used. If you do not have a class library, you could check out a bunch from your local library to use for the project. The books that my students chose to read were TPRS Publishing (Vida y Muerte en la Mara SalvatruchaLa Hija del Sastre & La Guerra Sucia) or translations of popular books (Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal, El Dador, La Casa de la Pradera & Pueblo fronterizo #1 & #2). 

The key to success was allowing class time to read. This ensures that students have the time to read in Spanish, as well as lets the teacher make sure that they are actually reading, and not just looking an English version online. My original plan was to have small amounts of time to read each day, but with this upper level class, they actually liked having long chunks of time, sometimes even a whole 45 minute class period. 

Even through they had a ton of freedom, I loved seeing them read with a purpose. They knew in advance there were weekly interpersonal discussions and free writes (here are my interpersonal & free write prompts), summative book project (which they presented to the class as presentational speaking) and presentational writing. With this in mind, many enjoyed reading at their own pace, while sometimes taking notes, or even making their own glossary. 

Students knew in advance what day of the week and the topic for their interpersonal discussions & free write. Usually they had 10 minutes to read and review, 15 minutes to discuss and 15 minutes to write on their own. The first week the students did their interpersonal discussions a partner with a similar book. Each week we actually switched partners, sometimes using small groups. In the future, if each small group was reading the same book they would stay together. I learned with everyone having a different book, groups of 2 or 3 provided the best discussion, with everyone getting a chance to contribute. 

Adrianna's mural for Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha
While this self motivation may not be the case with every group, I have really found that with upper levels, the more ownership and responsibility the students are given, the greater chance they have to impress you. For the book projects there was the mural above, the mini book summary at the bottom, videos, a news article below, collage, Prezi and presentations. For the book project this year I basically told they to "do something creative to show your comprehension of the book that you will present to the class." Well you live and learn and some just made a presentation. While some were awesome, I should have been more specific in my expectations. 
Collin's news article for La Guerra Sucia

Many high fliers have told me that they would much rather have the chance to read at their own pace, then be stifled to only getting one chapter at a time as a class. Yet on the flip side, those who usually struggle LOVE reading as a class because with TPRS methods they "get it!" Basically, I think this time of intense individual novel study would work best with advanced students, fast finishers, and upper level students. Have you done something similar in your class? How did it go?

part of Abby's La Casa de la Pradera Project


  1. Would you mind sharing what your schedule looked like each week? I want to do this with my students next quarter, but am unsure how to structure class on a daily/weekly basis. Any info appreciated!

    1. Hello!
      If you search "literature circles" I have a post with a sample calendar of how I did a modification on this unit last year. While doing this unit, we watched El Internado every Friday & taught Elementary Spanish lessons once every other week.
      We usually had a work & reading day Monday, discussion Tuesday & Write on same topic Wednesday.
      Let me know if you have more questions!


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