Una sorpresa: a new week long lesson plan

A single story that I published last year has blossomed into a week long unit with 2 mini-cuentos to prepare students for the full story

kissThe original story that I wrote is about a girl that gives surprising surprises to the boy whose attention she is trying to capture. Her ploys tend to irritate him until finally he is spurred into action and shows up at her house with a surprise of his own. This is one of my stories with enough soul that my students generally enjoy it… if they truly understand it. This year I added some mini-cuentos to the mix to ensure that they have had enough input beforehand to read the final story on their own. The mini-stories are enjoyable in their own right, featuring the improbably named JoJo McFiddle (who refuses to speak Spanish in class) and her smart-as-a-cow classmates, Peter Pugpoodle and Tanya Tingletongue.

The structures involved are advanced structures. The ones in red are being recycled for my classes:

se negó a hacer algo,


tan inteligente como,

siguió haciendo algo,

había hecho,

se había puesto,

nunca le había hablado,

le sonrió, and

dejó de hablar,

Day 1: I use  THIS POWER POINT PRESENTATION (CLICK TO DOWNLOAD)  to present the first three structures. The photos are conversation starters, as are the sentence starters. For instance, the part that says se negó a hacer desayuno might prompt me to ask ¿por qué se negó a hacer desayuno?, as if we were story-asking. It might grow into a short, vivid picture depending upon student responses, or it might die out quickly leading to the next situation: se negó a hablar con la madre de su novia. This might lead to PQA, or it might lead to a ridiculous little explanation. Anything is fine as long as we are playing around with the target phrases. Then we follow with THIS MINI-CUENTO (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE .PDF or click here to download the .docx version) which we read together as a whole class. Today I had my class translate after I read the line to make sure that everyone was following along. The ending of the first mini-cuento is on  THIS POWER POINT (CLICK TO DOWNLOAD)  because it is visual, so make sure you have this ready to go before starting the reading. There is a countdown from 5 to 1: I require that the class suggest 5 possible endings before they see my actual ending. If we have time we complete the questions on the back, but since we did not today I had them complete it as homework.

Day 2: I use  THIS POWER POINT PRESENTATION (CLICK TO DOWNLOAD) to present the second six structures. Once again there are sentence starters to create story images… not exactly full stories (unless they organically grow into stories), often just images that allow us to play with the structures. We might spend the entire class story-asking if we get a spark going, or maybe not. If one class is on fire and the other class is not I might pull out a song, just to keep them in synch, but ideally we will spend the class using these and, possibly, recycling yesterdays structures.

Day 3:  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SECOND MINI-CUENTO IN .PDF FORMAT or click here to download a .docx version. This continues the plot of JoJo McFiddle and her classmates; having the same characters maintains a nice continuity. I do not have any plan as to what the black cakes were actually made of, so it will be interesting if my students take the lead. I guess my back plan is cucarachas… but I am hoping they will suggest something better. During the second half of class we´ll create cartoons retelling the two stories (uniting the two mini-cuentos into one cartoon).

peter 4

Day 4: Here is the final three structures (although looking at the story you might have to plan on an additional day of teaching structures, depending upon your students prior knowledge). CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE THIRD VOCABULARY POWER POINT . Currently it is a bare-bones list of structures that you might want to fill out. If you do please consider sending your work to me… I am just too tired to get this done now. Maybe next year when I return to this unit again.

Day 5: We have finally made it!  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A .PDF OF THE FULL STORY or, if you prefer to go through it and make changes to suit your classes, click here for the .docx version. If you did not do the cartoons on day 4 then there is a space for a cartoon on the final story. I think I am going to give this as an independent reading assessment, so I will just have them complete the back. Or perhaps we will read it together, then they´ll complete the back as homework and on Monday I will give them a quick listening comprehension quiz based on the story.

Click on any of the storyboards below to see them full size:












  1. I love and am inspired by your blog but I am new to it. Please forgive me if the answer to my question…how long are your class periods?

    1. They are 55 minutes, but the key really is to take however long it is necessary in each step to make sure the students really can respond with confidence, accuracy and without hesitation.

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