My 3rd and 4th graders dived into reading Brandon Brown quiere un perro and they are loving it! One student said "Señorita T, this is so cool, there are so many words in this book that I know!" It is so gratifying to see that those weeks of pre-teaching the vocabulary for the novel paid off!
If you read any of my previous posts about Brandon Brown quiere un perro then you have heard me rave about the teacher's guide. I used the teacher's guide script for the chapter 3 reader's theatre and my students had a great time acting it out! During reader's theatre all of the students have a copy of the script in front of them and actors (and narrator) are reading their lines of dialogue from the script (no need to memorize anything). Acting out the scene provides the readers the opportunity to associate meaning by working closely with the text; this correlates to gains in vocabulary, comprehension and retention.
My reader's theatre was inspired by a workshop I attended this past summer at NTPRS by Carol Gaab. If you are ever at a workshop and Carol is presenting you must go and see her--she has so many great strategies to keeps students engaged while reading.
Here are some of Carol's ideas that I incorporated into my reader's theatre (thank you Carol!).
To celebrate Valentine's Day my classes created stories about...love! Don't worry, it's nothing mushy--just an innocent story about two boys liking a girl and trying to find her the perfect gift for Valentine's Day. To avoid any awkwardness in this story I chose a cast of either all boys or girls and used puppets. Let's be honest, the puppets are dopey, but that is perfect for this story. Embrace the dopey nature of the puppets! Describe how guapo/a they are and let the students have fun trying to pick up the objects in the story with the puppet's hands and mouth. Let your students play!
The story script includes fill in the blanks because each of my classes came up with their own story details. I am still continuing to backwards plan to read Brandon Brown quiere un perro in the spring, so this story introduced recoge and regresa to my students (both words appear throughout the novel).
The story focuses on the following structures:
Es el 14 de febrero, un día muy especial--es el día de San Valentín. Francine, Antonio y Carlos están en ________. Antonio ve a Francine...Antonio le gusta a Francine. Carlos ve a Francine...Carlos le gusta a Francine. ¡Antonio y Carlos les gusta a Francine! Antonio y Carlos buscan el regalo perfect para ella. Van a ________. En ________ Carlos busca el regalo perfecto. No recoge un libro, ¡Qué ridículo! No recoge un lápiz, ¡Qué ridículo! No recoge una pizza, ¡Qué ridículo! De repente, Carlos ve el regalo perfecto. Carlos recoge ________ (have students decide the gift or pull an item from the Caja mágica--the more ridiculous the better). Ahora Antonio busca el regalo perfecto. Antonio no recoge un crayón, ¡Qué ridículo! Antonio no recoge una planta, ¡Qué ridículo! De repente, Antonio ve el regalo perfecto. Antonio recoge ________. Antonio y Carlos regresan a ________. Carlos camina a Francine y le da el/la ________. Francine le dice "¡No me gusta!" Carlos está muy triste y llora. Antonio camina a Francine y le da el/la ________. Francine le dice "¡No me gusta!" Antonio está muy triste y llora. De repente, un chico muy guapo y importante llega. El chico se llama Umberto. Umberto ve a Francine...Umberto le gusta a Francine. Umberto busca el regalo perfecto. Umberto recoge ________. Umberto camina a Francine y le da el/la________. Francine le dice "¡Me gusta mucho!" Francine y Umberto corren a ________ y viven felices para siempre. ¡El fin!
This story also gave my students a chance to practice the third person plural form of verbs. My 3rd and 4th graders can tell me that the 'n' means 'they'!
Last year my fourth graders read Brandon Brown quiere un perro by Carol Gaab. This book is excellent for beginners--while the total word count is 4400, the unique word count is just 100. I know what you are thinking, and trust me I was thinking the same thing last year. How could a book with only 100 unique words be interesting? I don't know how Carol does it, but the book is both captivating and relatable.
Although my students did a great job reading the book, I was not completely prepared to teach it to them. I waited too late in the year to start reading and ended up in a race to finish the book before the end of the school year. This year will be different! I am going to start reading the book earlier in the year and pre-teach more of the vocabulary. My plan is to start reading the book with my third and fourth graders after spring break, and until then I am backwards planning from the book. To do this I looked at the teacher's guide which breaks down each chapter into new vocabulary and cognates (this guide is a must have if you are teaching this book- it is full of great activities and assessments). My first step for backwards planning was taking the words that were new to my students and grouping them together into stories. The plan is for the students to have seen the new vocabulary structures before they start reading the book.
A colleague and I grouped the following structures together:
Next, I picked a student who had a birthday coming up and asked them what they wanted their classmates to make them for their birthday. I put prewritten statements into the Caja mágica and had the students read them to the birthday boy. For example: La clase hace un sándwich de espárrago para tu cumpleaños. La clase hace una sopa de ojos para tu cumpleaños. La clase hace una pizza de cucarachas para tu cumpleaños. The birthday boy would then respond with "¡Qué asco!" My students were excited to see what idea would come out of the box next, which provided me with a compelling way to circle the word hace.
During the next class period I read a book that I created on Storybird (I was inspired by Cynthia Hitz's blog post about using Storybird and by all of the different artwork on the Storybird site). The only issue I had with Storybird was that when I tried to make my story public I received a message stating that stories written in languages other than English cannot be made public. It looks like the link is working now, but feel free to comment or email me if you have any issues. Read the story "Un cumpleaños terrible" here.