My Spanish 2 students start the school year with a month long unit that culminates in various retellings of the fairy tale Caperucita Roja, or Little Red Riding Hood. I choose this story because it works well to introduce a lot of the vocabulary that students will later need in order to understand El Internado. I also want a familiar tale that we can work with in order to review Spanish 1 and introduce several past tenses. Most importantly I have to explicitly teach my students how a TPRS classroom works. Here is a quick outline of how I do it:
Week one: getting to know students with PQA, setting expectations
Not all teachers in my department are TPRS teachers… so I start with a focus on question words and what Terry Waltz calls the “super seven”:
Volition (“wants to”, “feels like”): quiere
Location (“is at”): está
Existence (“there is”, “there are”): hay
Preference (“likes”): le gusta
Identity (“is”, “am”, “are”): es
Motion (“goes”): va
Possession (“has”): tiene
Story possibilities are virtually limitless once I have verified that the whole class has mastered these six structures.
Week two: more PQA
We keep expanding students´ abilities to work with basic, fundamental structures. Once they have fully acquired the question words and Terry´s super six then we continue with another 10 fundamental structures: sale de, tiene, hace, se pone triste, puede, le da, le dice, sabe, vuelve, ve. While this should all be review from Spanish 1, there is always a group of students from non-TPRS classes who have “studied these verbs” but can´t use them. It is worthwhile going slowly and spreading this out to two weeks if necessary.
There is always a school dance on the second Friday of the new school year. I like to capitalize on this by asking a few questions about what is going to happen so that, the following Monday, I can introduce past tenses by asking what happened. A few common questions: Who is going to the dance? How are they going to get there? What are they going to wear? At what time are they going to be returning home? I like to tell them that I am going too, with my abuelita who is 153 years old. This defuses any social tension about the actual dance and allows us to jokingly make a fantasy dance in which we are all going to Disneyland afterwards.
week three: which one of you is Caperucita Roja?
Who went? How did they get there? What did they wear? How did they get home? I always pull an accomplice aside just before the beginning of class and get her to play along with me. Of course, she wore a red cape to the dance. Yes, she walked home, and it was dark. She had to walk through the forest. Did I mention that she lives with her grandmother? I do not tell them that we are going to learn Little Red Riding Hood; I let them discover it on their own. It is all in past tenses. I often teach iba and fue at the same time (She went home, right? She did not go to McDonald´s, she went home. But class, while she was going home something happened! She was going home through the forest when she met someone…)
Here you can download one of the readings that I wrote for this week. You might want to change the ending if your students have never heard of the verb “to conjugate”. You´ll definitely want to change the underlined place names to reflect where you teach. I also like to change the name of the main character each year to personalize it to a student in one of my classes. Click here for the story: Sara y el lobo version 2
Update Sept 28, 2015: Here is a new activity for reading Sara y el lobo, with an improved reading too.
Students read in pairs in class. For homework they make a six panel illustration of the story with no words, which we use the following class for retells.
In 2014 I used this story within the first month of Spanish 1. Here are two examples made by students (click to see a larger version). The first is by Brenda G.:
Here is another student example, this one by Arielle M:
We also watch a children´s video. Click here to open a window and see the version that we saw.
week four: some creative reworkings of the classic story
– Caperucita was actually working for the police. They were conducting a sting on suspicious lobos hanging out in the forest…
– As it turns out, the lobo is Caperucita Roja´s real grandmother! Yes, Caperucita´s mother was switched at birth, or stolen by the evil woman that Caperucita always thought was her real grandmother…
– Caperucita lived in Los Angeles. One day she was sitting on the front steps in front of her apartment building (listening to some hip hop) when her mother yelled her name out the window and told her that she had to take the 49 bus over to her grandma´s house to bring her grandma some foot soap. But Caperucita did not take the 49 bus, she decided to cut through the park even though it was getting dark and nobody went into the park after dark…
In the last two weeks I begin introducing Internado structures. We won´t even start viewing the first episode of El Internado until the second quarter (10th week), so I am not in a rush. Where it makes sense I´ll throw a pozo into a story. We have eight weeks. The idea is to slowly, naturally build their vocabulary in a targeted way.
Here you can download the list of structures that I identified for my own students for the first episode. Your students might need more or less preparation (for instance, I don´t include phrases like “no van a volver” or “ayuda” on this list because generally my new Spanish 2 students have acquired that, but that is verified in class). The bolded structures are ones that I prioritize for acquisition (establish meaning by writing them on the board, circle them and feature them in PQA, sneak them often into class stories as well as the readings that students read on their own, require them on quick writes). Click here to download the basic structures for episode 1