assessments Reading

Spanish 1 story, 2nd week of school

tacosHere is a basic story that I asked kids to translate as a quiz on the Friday of the second week back to school. Ten days of instruction. Keep in mind, of course, that there are plenty of visual cues in my classroom. When I give it I tell students that it is okay to look at the walls, but it is not okay to look at each others papers. I sit in the corner with a class list and check off the names of students who do use the vocabulary posted on the wall… this helps me (1) identify who has acquired the structures so well that they don’t even need to look up, as well as (2) who needs to be encouraged more to use the word wall (for instance they may not be tracking my laser pointer when I use it while speaking in class). In a class of 40 I think that this kind of feedback is essential in order to alert myself so that no student “falls through the cracks” early in the year.

Click here if you’d like to download the story as a .docx file. I left it like that so that you can easily change the name of the teacher and any other details to suit your classes.


  1. Hola Sr. Peto! I see that you are introducing subjunctive and have highlighted them. How do you explain the subjunctive in the story to the students, if you do, and are you also using preterite/imperfect in your story asking in class? How can I do this without overloading/confusing the kids? Thanks so much for your blog – I’m learning a lot. This is my first year at TPRS.

    1. The underlined words were words that I didn’t teach at all. I haven’t looked at the quizzes yet, but I am wondering how many are going to get “vaya”. In class I tell them that I goofed up and included some words that they don’t know on the quiz, very apologetic, but I underlined them. So very sorry, I tell them.

      In any case there is no explanation yet about the subjunctive, I just use it when it is natural. I do point out the preterite/imperfect, but only as a directed translation. For instance I might have a student actor and I say “Bobby Joe va al parque”, maybe at the beginning the kids will do the two hand motions that we decided represent the verb va and the noun parque, then I turn to the student actor to confirm and ask him “?Vas al parque?”. At this point he’ll only answer “Si”, but once I really start hammering in the first person I’ll stand behind him and say the words “Voy al parque” while he mouths them– a hilarious skill that Blaine Ray teaches. I teach them to shift their head with each syllable so it looks like they are saying it with sass. Finally he goes to the park, walking across the classroom, and I observe to the class, “Clase, Bobby Joe fue al parque. FUE (laser pointer on “fue-went” poster on my wall)”. And hopefully they react with oooohs and aahhhhs. Then the story continues mostly in the present, with an occasional 100% comprehensible observation in a past tense using my word wall.

      1. Great. Thanks. Now after two weeks I am trying to figure out how to handle assessments and grades for my kids. I have done a few two or three question si/no quizzes, but when there is one kid who gets one wrong, it gives him a 50% and I don’t want to give them that kind of grade at this point. I have done two timed writings and am happy with the results this second week. And may I ask what kind of homework you give and if you give grades for it?

      2. I am struggling with this one too. Right now I am labeling all of my assessments either 3 (high performance), 2 (middle) or 1 (low performance). Nothing has gone on the online grade book yet. I´m looking for trends, like the kid who always scores low, but I´m not willing to label my students yet. They are already labeling each other, I can see that. Last Thursday I was about to choose a student to interview a la Bryce Hedstrom when I just asked the class, “Who is it that is hiding in this class, is never getting called on, somehow we don´t know anything about him or her yet?” Amazingly they know, better than me, because immediately they all pointed to a kid that had been sitting in the second row (only two rows in my classroom set up like a large U) and somehow always managing to fit perfectly behind the kid in front of him so that I had never made eye contact with him. Seriously, he must have swayed his body as I moved around the classroom so that he was always dead center behind the kid in front of him. As he stood up to move to the stool in the middle of the class he muttered, “I suck at Spanish”, kind of apologetically. Two weeks into class and he already had decided that he was a terrible student!

        We interviewed him, found out about his family, discovered that his little sister does not always tell the truth (according to him) and then created a spontaneous little story about his sister, pure fiction I made very clear, but several student contributions (friends of his that knew his home life?) made it hilarious and he was really laughing. Our exit quiz was all about his family, which he of course did very well on (even though it was in Spanish). The next day he came in and SAT IN THE FRONT ROW! I greeted him and asked how his sister was doing, asking about her by her name, and he smiled in such a way that I knew we now have a personal connection.

        I think that so much of the grades that I get back, especially in the first few weeks of Spanish 1, have more to do with how well I am doing than how they are doing. I have to input grades soon, so I am thinking of averaging what I have on my spreadsheet so that they are all A, B or C. I have a participation system (little cards that I hand them for clever answers, etcetera) that I can use to bring a grade up or down.

        As for homework, nothing in level 1 yet. Last year I had my Spanish 2 students keep track of the target structures each week and write three sentences for 7 different structures each week (21 sentences altogether). It was flexible enough that a kid could miss class once in a while and still complete it, and it was effective at making them review past structures at home. It was also effective for me to read through and suddenly realize that they were using X structure completely wrong, so I would be sure to focus more class time on it. I also wrote stories with comprehension questions (many posted on this website… look at the posts about my Matava stories). The comprehension questions are written like a circling session… it was really effective for the kids who did their own work. After they passed in a homework story I would ask a few easy but specific questions about the story and they had to get 4 of 5 right to get homework credit. 3 of 5 maybe partial credit one time, but they had to come to class knowing the story. Just filling in the answers was not enough. That actually was very effective.

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