“I don’t know how one develops imagination without reading fiction”—Diane Ravitch I buy all the novels for my students that our school budget allows because our students need to be reading fiction more than non-fiction. Here are some reasons reading novels will help our students both as language learners and as well-rounded human beings: 1. Readers learn more vocabulary from novels. In a novel the vocabulary repeats itself more than that in non-fiction texts because the setting and the situations tend to be revisited and referred to over and over. This helps a reader to pick up both high frequency [...]
I organize many of the books in my classroom library in discarded library magazine boxes. There are boxes on all sorts of topics and genres, but my favorite is the Butterfly box, labeled "Mariposas" in Spanish. Monarch butterflies captured my imagination years ago when I was driving across the country in the early fall on the way to my brother's wedding. Along the way, wave after wave of Monarchs were crossing the road. Millions of them. I was spell bound. How could there be so many? Can bugs actually migrate? How is that possible? Where did they come from? Where [...]
Teachers are always saying that their students just do not like to read. I realize that this may be true, but I also know that when students say that they are just mimicking their peers and elders, and they may not really feel that way--they do not know enough about themselves to have an informed opinion because they have been raised in a culture where reading is changing and few have quiet time to read. They probably just need some help. We need to provide them with the tools and the materials so that they can become readers. We need [...]
This is a recent joke in Spanish (& in English on the second page: THE JOB AT THE ZOO ) that my kids liked. More and more, I like telling jokes that have an impact at multiple levels. This one is funny and students can relate to it, but it also addresses the impostor syndrome, that nagging feeling that we might just be faking our way through life. At least half of all successful people report feeling this way from time to time. A phrase that is crucial to understanding the punch line instantly is we are going to lose, so [...]
Over the last three weeks students in my Spanish I classes have been reading self-selected novellas a couple of days a week in class. They chose the books themselves and self-differentiated based on their reading ability and interests. Even though students self-select reading material in my class all of the time, enforcing the idea of choosing something based on comprehensibility and interest is a continual challenge because the idea of reading what you want seems odd for students in school. To support the idea of “comprehensible and interesting” I almost daily highlight the poster I made and posted above the [...]
A new story for level I is up on the Free Stuff page. Get a pdf of it here. This is a fun little story that grew out of practicing the words "opens" and "shuts" with novel commands. the document includes tips to help teachers learn how to grow a similar story with their students.