This session was wonderful!  We got to be students in Kristy Placido’s classroom.  She is one of my favorite Spanish teachers so it was wonderful to experience.  I posted a few videos to Twitter if you want to check out her session.  One of my key takeaways was how she incorporates discussion into reading a chapter.  Many people think that we need to just read the chapter straight through.  Kristy encourages us to stop and to create compelling discussion that you can pull from the novel.  

Kristy explained that all teachers have a different approach to novels. Some teachers let their class read self selected novels and others use class novels.  She chooses class novels because she can explore culture with her students.  She explained that she tries to balance the novels between serious and fun.  Below are some of Kristy’s tips to select a novel:

Err on side of too easy  (If too easy if the story is decent, you can beef it up with language rich discussions)

-Think about how you can expand novels culturally especially if they are the base of your curriculum.   

-Select topics YOU feel are engaging and others will too.  Let your passion show to your students!

-Don’t worry about the grammar in the novel.  Focus on sheltering vocabulary with the unique word count, especially in lower levels.  

-Balance boy and girl characters.

-Balance heavy academic topics with lighter reads such as supernatural novels with war themes.  


Kristy also spoke of backwards planning.  Her tips were:

Are there vocabulary words/ structures students do not know and that you need to pre teach?  We can not pre teach every single word, but students need to have a good base of comprehension before picking up the novel.  

-What words can be picked up just via reading and discussing?

-What words are low-frequency and don’t matter?

-What cultural elements do you want to expand and exploit in your lessons?   

-What hooks can you use?  Defintely check out “Teach like a Pirate” by Dave Burgess to find out more about hooks if you have not done so already.   It will get you excited to go back to school in the fall.  One idea is acting out something related to the book such as a teacher wearing a costume or to have a certain mood in your classroom with lighting and music.  Capture their interest and create a wonder.  Add a layer of intrigue where they think that something exciting is about to happen.  We are so lucky that Fluency Matters TGs come with amazing hooks.  However Kristy injects them in various parts of the novel unit.

-Are there songs, memes, youtube videos, tweets, Facebook posts, feature films, commercials, news stories that tie in to your unit?  These can end up being a great hook.  hook them into the next chapter.  She eliminates the need to completely pre teach every structure.  

-She encouraged us to check our for a wealth of more resources for different novels.


She shared some wonderful ideas to mix up comprehension questions.  We have to make sure we use the comprehension questions in a fun way and not as a worksheet.  Here are some great ways!

-Inside Outside Circles

-Quiz and Trade

-Speed Dating

-Bonus, these are all fabulous brain breaks as well


She also gave us some assessment ideas:

-Read and Draw (give sentences or a paragraph and students illustrate it.)

-Students select text and draw while listening to an audio book or teacher.

-Simple T/F pop quiz

-Put events in order

-Who said it?

-Fill in blanks of a paragraph with a word bank.

-Pop quizzes with low points and low pressure.  


Some wonderful takeaways are:

-Use structures to have a legitimate conversation with your students.  Be smart, and think of structures  you want your students to acquire while you converse with them.  Students think you are off task but in reality we are activating these important structures.  

-There are no rules and that is the beauty of teaching with novels!

-If you are creative, why not try authoring a novel?  Students always need more TPRS novels in their FVR library.  

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