One of the greatest benefits I’ve found in using readers is that they improve my students scores on nationally normed tests like the AAPPL and the STAMP. I don’t WANT to teach to a test but I want my students to reap the benefits of earning the state and global seals of biliteracy! Using readers as a focal point of my curriculum has allowed me to see amazing scores without compromising how I feel about the strain standardized tests put on teachers. With input, experience with narrative, some healthy discussions about what happened in the story and what we think will happen, my students don’t need me to teach to the test, our reader units give them the skills without the pain!
One of the skills I try to develop through our CI based reader units is compare/contrast. I can do this easily by adding a film study to a unit built around a reader. Some examples from my classroom include: Esperanza and El Norte for upper levels, Esperanza and La misma luna for lower levels (I’ve done both), Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos and Blancanieves (2011), Robo en la noche and Río, Hasta la sepultura and El Internado: Laguna Negra, and the one I’d like to share today, Felipe Alou and Sugar.
Just as in the reader, the main character in the film, Miguel “Sugar” Santos is a baseball player from the Dominican Republic hoping to make it big in the United States. Miguel is drafted by the Kansas City Royals and is selected to play for their single A team, the Swing. Like Felipe, Miguel struggles with not knowing English, with not understanding the food, and with trying to adjust to a new culture.
Miguel is very different than Felipe and I don’t want to give you any spoilers but he definitely has some struggles after an injury leaves him out of the line up for a short time.
This unit is part of my level 2 curriculum and that means the discussion isn’t very deep but it is still very powerful. They are able to compare and contrast the two players and their experiences here in the United States! They can talk about discrimination, frustration, personal career choice versus parental dreams, and more!
As we were finishing up the unit, I wanted to review the 2 stories. I love Señor Wooly’s game Pass it Up for reviewing so I made a version specific for my needs! We began the hour by making a Venn Diagram of how Felipe and Sugar were similar and different (about 20 minutes) and then ended the hour with the game (also about 20 minutes).
I’m a visual learner so rather than try to explain on paper how to play the game, my class created a tutorial video to help you out! Even if you’re not a Spanish teacher, I think hearing my description at the beginning and watching the kids respond to me will help you understand how it works!
Check out this video tutorial to see the activity in action!
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