Every time a new reader that I love comes out, I have to try to figure out where to place it in my curriculum. I am already doing 4 whole class reads per year and there are great readers sitting on my shelf, unused, because they’ve been replaced by something else.
A few years ago, I began to incorporate “choice” readers as part of our final reader-based unit in level 4. By the time they got to this unit, they had read 15 other books and I knew they were equipped to tackle a “choice read” on their own. It worked out great!
This year, I have a group with very diverse proficiency levels. Some of the readers that I love to do in level 4 would be very challenging for the ones with lower lexiles. It occurred to me that this might be a group who would benefit from a second “choice read” unit.
I began by selecting 5 readers that I was not going to be teaching this year. I selected Rebeldes de Tejas, La llorona de Mazatlán, La hija del sastre, La Guerra Sucia, and Santana. I stated the suggested level of each reader and shared the blurb on the back. They had to rate their interest in reading each from 1-10.
I took the results and tried to match each student with the reader that they scored the highest. In most cases, students were in the group of their first or second choice. One reader had only one top choice so I divided them into 4 groups. Each day, these groups fill out a “Reader Study Daily Report” (available in our free downloads) about the chapters they read.
The group reading La Guerra Sucia has just gotten to the most dramatic and exciting part of the reader and I love listening to their shock as they find out all the secrets. They don’t want to quit reading at the end of the hour. I love seeing their excitement and can’t wait to see their reaction as they find out the big secret at the end!
TheLa hija del sastre group has been angry with the antagonist as he tries to get Emilia to reveal her secret. In their small group, I have gotten to see more of their personal reactions to the text by having them in a small group day after day.
The students in the Santana group are almost all in the school band. They are really enjoying the story and are getting a look behind the scenes at the life of the musician. It is interesting to see their own interests appear in the connections they make between their lives and the book.
Finally, the La llorona de Mazatlán group has been amazing for my lower lexile readers. Two very strong readers selected this story and through the small group work, they’ve been able to help their teammates enjoy the story. No one takes control and everyone is acquiring a lot of language from the experience. Today, one of the girls said “I have felt more confident reading this book than any other book we’ve read.”
My classroom is full of reading. We read versions of our class stories, cultural readings, authentic pieces, and whole class readers. We read with no strings attached twice a week through our FVR program. This read is not meant to replace those other things; having common experiences is very important in building cultural knowledge and community experience. This reading is meant to supplement those other readings and give students the opportunity to dig deep into a text on their own. I plan to read a second full class reader in the 3rd quarter and then do a final choice read in level 4 at the end of the year. I also plan to add a choice read in the last quarter of Spanish 3 for the first time!
There is no right way to read with your students. Both comprehensible and engaging, there are many ways to increase students’ proficiency with our Fluency Matters comprehension-based readers.
Carrie Toth is a Spanish teacher from Illinois with over 20 years of teaching experience. She was the 2014 Central States Teacher of the Year and 2015 finalist for ACTFL Teacher of the Year. Carrie has authored La Calaca Alegre, La hija del sastre, Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos, and Vector. Her newest comprehension-based reader, 48 horas will be available in December! She blogs at somewheretoshare.com and can be found on Twitter @senoraCMT.