Posted in Authentic resources, Novel

More resources for El Ekeko

More Resources El Ekeko

I have loved reading El Ekeko this year!  Of all of the Spanish 1 books that I have used, I found that this one was the richest in culture.  I feel that I too learned a lot about Bolivian culture.  Previously, I mentioned how I introduced the book to give some background.  I also included how I planned a Google Tour and used Google Slides to practice speaking as well.  Here are some more of my resources that I used with the book:

  • On my May 7th news, I included information about a theater festival in La Paz.  This would be great for an introduction as well.
  • Also, I did some PictureTalks with pictures from this Instagram account.  (It is awesome!)  I also was thinking about it in retrospect that I should have searched for the #alasitas2018 hashtag on Instagram to get more pictures for the festival!
  • I used this video with Alasitas to discuss it.  Then, I had students create a miniature item that they would make for the festival with Play-doh.
  • Here are the puedos that I used with my students.  I also had them comparing the first book (Piratas) and El Ekeko.
  • Also, I was going to be out one day, and I left the book at school.  I came up with this general reading guide.  It can be used for any chapter of any book.
  • I used this Quizizz game around Chapter 9.

Hope these extra resources help you as you plan to teach this book!

Posted in Music, Novel, Reading

Introduction: El Ekeko

Intro- El Ekeko, reading and story listening

On Monday, we are going to start with El Ekeko in Spanish 1!  I am really excited to start this book!  Many people ask how to use news articles.  One way is to find a collection of news articles for each country   To start, I had students read some of my news articles about Bolivia.  I used this article on Gran Chaco and a biologist working there.  I used this article about movies in Bolivia.  Finally, I also used this article on Morales.  I wanted an overview of the country, and I used this article, but I cut out half of it to make it more feasible for my level 1 students.  I like to throw in a menu as well, so I found this one.

On our first day, I asked questions about each article.  I put the answers into a crossword puzzle (which is why I haven’t shared it here!)  But many of the questions include: who the president is, key words in Spanish from each article, different tourist places and food highlights.  For example, I asked which dessert costs 6 bolivars.  Again, I hope that students have an introduction to a country that they haven’t really studied.  (Plus, when we print out the papers, we can go outside to read and complete the puzzle!)

On Mondays, I have started each week with Kara Jacob’s story listening for songs.  I am obsessed, and I have been seeing big gains with my students.  With El Ekeko, I read this post about using the song Latinoamérica by Calle 13.  I decided to take a crack at making my own story script.  On the doc, I shared the script with an idea for four corners activity throughout the story.  I also created a short Kahoot Jumble activity and a translation sheet.  I look forward to using this on Monday!

Posted in beginning of the year, Novel

How I decide on novels for my classes

How I decide on novels for my class

Whew!  My school year is over, my room is packed and now- I just have to pack up my house, have an edcamp, move, vacation and make it through June!  At least those are all- relatively- fun things!  In my head, I wasn’t going to blog much in June, but then I started to feel the itch.

Two weeks ago, I got to visit my new school and talk to the current foreign language department about curriculum and novels.  And of course, my head started spinning with ideas.  I also wanted to be purposeful about the novels that we chose to implement next year.  Next year, I will be teaching: Early Childhood and grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8.  The younger classes meet twice a week and the middle school classes meet 4 times a week.  The department decided to introduce novels in fourth grade which to me seems reasonable.

When you are first starting to look at novels, I suggest thinking about the difficulty level.  Martina wrote a wonderful series about how to know if a novel is appropriate for each level that I highly recommend!

First, I looked at what the school already had.  I really liked two of the novels they were already using.  They had Brandon Brown versus Yucatan for sixth grade.  I hadn’t read it before, but when I did, I liked the incorporation of Mexican culture.  I can’t wait to Google Map those locations a la Maestra Loca!  Also, they had Isabela captura un congo.  When I taught elementary classes before, I loved to incorporate animals.  This story does so nicely, and I can use some of my resources from Robo en la noche with Costa Rica.

Second, I decided that I wanted to vary the countries that the books emphasize.  One year, I fell into the trap of emphasizing too much one country when I wasn’t analyzing this.  My colleague emailed and said the exact same thing!  I looked at the current novels and then added on other novels that I knew would cover various countries.  Spanish teachers in particular are so lucky that there are so many books to choose from!  If it hasn’t happened already, soon I predict that there will be a novel from each country.

Finally, I have found that students prefer a balance of non-fiction and fiction.  Since I have tried to cover two novels a year, I try to choose one of each.  While a few years ago, there were mostly fiction books, now there is a wide variety of both fiction and non fiction.  When I polled my students what books they preferred at the end of the year, they were split because I believe I finally struck a nice balance.  (Last year, I taught Vidas Impactantes with level 5 along with Calaca Alegre.  In level 3, we read Robo en la noche and Santana.)

So after debating this, what did I decide on?

  • Grade 4: Edi el elefante (based on recommendations from many!)
  • Grade 5: Isabela captura un congo
  • Grade 6: Brandon Brown versus Yucatan and Felipe Alou (I have always wanted to teach it!  And it is a non-fiction book!)
  • My colleague is planning on teaching Escape cubano, Esperanza and maybe even El Ekeko in 7th grade.
  • Grade 8: Bianca Nieves because we loved it so much two years ago and Leyendas impactantes (I chose Leyendas because I want to start with a study of Venezuela.  Also- it has a novice and intermediate version!)

Many of these books will be new to us- so I would love any suggestions that you have!  Also, how do you decide on books that you use for whole class novels?

Posted in Novel

21 ideas to use while teaching novels

21 Ideas to Use while teaching novels

Last year, I made the switch from using novels in addition to the textbook to just using novels without a textbook.  I would add if you are interested in incorporating a novel into your textbook curriculum, I have found a few places that work.  For levels 2 and up, you can use an easier novel at the beginning of the year for a review.  For all levels, you can use a novel at the end to wrap up the year.  I also like to use a novel in December because it is a shorter month with winter vacation at the end.  You can envision it as a mini-mester.

Although I have presented about how I use novels including activities that I enjoy, I haven’t blogged about it here in detail.  This is also a compilation of some of my other posts, so I hope that you (and I!) can save this as a reference.

Pre-reading activities:

  • Ahead of reading the chapter, I write out 5-6 sentences about what will happen in the next chapter.  Students then predict if the sentence is true or false.  Then, you can have the class vote for which sentences they think are true and which ones are false.  As they read, they are checking to verify their answers.  I have tried this as an adult and it was extremely engaging!  (Medium prep: all levels)
  • To change the previous activity to a lower prep activity, have students make the suggestions and predictions.  Then, students can indicate what they think is true or false from the predictions.
  • To introduce culture in the book, I like to find pictures from Instagram from the country featured to discuss in class.  As a class we discuss what we see and make predictions based on the picture.  We can also look at the short caption (which is likely to be comprehensible for most levels) and the hashtags.  You could also put two similar pictures next to each other and compare them.  Finally, if the pictures contain any key words from the reading, you can label them to introduce them as well.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • Start with a dictation.  Find 3-4 sentences in the upcoming chapter and read them aloud.  Students record down the sentences as they hear them.  This is when I encourage students to focus on both spelling and accents.  At the end, I project the sentences (or you can write them on the board yourself), and students correct their own sentences.  After this activity, have students translate the sentences.  You can pick sentences that may be difficult, so students already understand them in the text.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • To review and introduce vocabulary before the chapter or the novel, I like to import my Quizlet sets into PearDeck vocabulary.  Students practice writing sentences with the vocabulary or drawing a picture of the vocabulary as they work with a partner.  Then at the end, everyone votes on which sentences and drawings fit and which ones do not.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • Another way to review vocabulary before reading is to review key phrases through PQA or personalized questions and answers.  You can use either the vocabulary or upcoming topics in the chapter to ask students questions about their lives.  For example, before La Calaca Alegre we discussed nightmares and types of nightmares.  Since many of my students were juniors and seniors, we could discuss car accidents before Frida’s accident.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • One of my new favorite ideas last year came from Amy Lenord when she was discussing creating creators called Whiteboard Splash.  You could do this post or pre reading.  In this activity, I would give students key words from an upcoming chapter to use in a sentence.  Or I would give them a personal question that would connect to the chapter.  Students would record their answers on individual whiteboards.  Then, once they are done, other students would give feedback by giving an ! if they were surprised, check for me too, star for well written and a smiley face for like or funny.  I took out the disagree feedback to keep the activity positive.  Sometimes, I would encourage students to rewrite their answer to add more details after seeing others’ work. (Low prep: all levels)

During reading activities:

  • Give students each 4 sticky notes, and as they are reading, they record down four main events of the chapter in the target language.  At the end of the chapter in small groups or as a whole class, the students can organize their sticky notes in a timeline. (No prep: all levels)
  • Have students fill out the main questions for each chapter: who, what, when, where and why.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • I love using reading guides!  Students fill out main ideas, identify vocabulary and visualize scenes by drawing throughout the chapter.  This also helps students focus on the main ideas and concepts from each chapter if they are reading the chapter in pairs or individually.  (High prep: all levels)
  • Give each student a mini whiteboard and ask main questions for them to answer as you read the chapter as a whole class.  You can have students draw, translate, true/false questions- you name it!  Plus, most of my students love being able to write on the mini whiteboards!  (No prep: all levels)
  • Have students pause throughout the chapter, close the book and write down everything they understand/remember.  They could do this in the TL or English.  They then compare their summary with a partner and add anything that they forgot. (No prep: all levels)

Post reading activities:

  • Martina‘s collaborative mural is always one of my favorite activities!  I modified it a bit, so three to four students come up to the board at once and draw different parts of the past events in the novel.  Then, I discuss with the class each drawing.  I always start with the question “who is it?”  After, I will have students take a picture of the board, upload it to Seesaw and explain what is happening in the drawings based on our discussion.  They can do this by adding a voice comment.  (No prep: all levels)
  • For a technology task, I like to use either Kahoot or Quizizz.  For Kahoot, I like to use Jumble because students have to put events in order.  It is harder than the traditional Kahoot.  Other than Jumble, I REALLY prefer Quizizz to Kahoot.  Quizizz is faster because the questions come at the students’ pace instead of the whole class.  You can also assign Quizizz for homework.  When I assign it for homework, I like to give a minimum score for students to earn.  If not, they can just click through and not pay too much attention.  Also, depending on how popular the book is sometimes games have already been created!  (Low to medium prep: all levels)
  • For each novel, I have started creating Puedos from Laura Sexton.  Puedos are can do statements or questions that students can answer about the novel.  I have two columns.  Students can practice twice on each question with different partners and each partner initials that the student completed it successfully.  I also encourage the partners to HELP each other- not just say oh well if someone can’t do it.  At the end, I spot check about 4-5 of their Puedos.  (Here is an example of my Puedos from Piratas.) (Medium prep: all levels) Some of my favorite questions include:
    • Who is your favorite character? Why?
    • List two facts about the country/city in the book.
    • What does X character do?
    • Describe this character.
  • I enjoy doing a jigsaw activity after a few chapters.  I have done this to review after 4 chapters.  I have students break up into groups of 4.  Then each person from the group decides if they will review chapter 1, 2, 3 or 4.  All of the chapter 1 people get together, all of the chapter 2 people get together etc.  Then from their specific chapter, they write down 3 key words from the chapter, 3 key facts and 3 questions.  This year, I want to change it, so students create a hand out with the key words, key facts and questions.  Then, the next day, they will get back into their original groups.  Each person takes the 3 quizzes from the other chapters.  Then the “expert” from the chapter reviews them. (Low prep: all levels)
  • I like to have students recreate different scenes from the book.  One way is to use digital storytelling.  You have students recreate scenes then take pictures of their recreations.  If they use Snapchat or Google slides, they can add effects and captions.  Then you can talk about the photos like a PictureTalk and continue to provide more valuable input (No prep: all levels)
  • Another way is by using play-doh.  With the play-doh, students sculpt a scene.  Then, students walk around and write down what each sculpture represents from the book. As a class, students guess the sculpture and each person reveals the part of the novel that they were intending to sculpt! (No prep: all levels)
  • For reading activities, I like to have students make Google Forms to send out as quizzes for all of the students.  I encourage students to write around 5-6 questions and normally true/false or multiple choice.  Then the students can take their peers’ quizzes.  Not only does it help the students who are reviewing the book, but it also helps students learn how to make a Google Form (which far too few students know how to do!) (No prep: all levels)
  • This past year, I have also made some Google Tours for students to complete that go through locations of the whole book.  While this is DEFINITELY the most time consuming item, I believe that it is worth it!  It is fun to play around with Google Tours, and I believe that Google will continue to evolve this platform as well.  This post explains it more in depth, and it also gives two examples of Google Tours that I made with Bianca Nieves and El Ekeko. (High prep: all levels)
  • In the middle of the book, we have also completed vocabulary mind maps that Sara-Elizabeth suggests.  I like to think of categories to group vocabulary.  For example, in Piratas, I did Pirate actions and Spanish actions.  These are also great to display for when students are reading to help reference the vocabulary. (No prep: all levels)


Share your favorite activities below, and I will add them to the list! (Also if you are interested in learning about how I incorporate IPAs into my novel study, check out my video here!)

Posted in Technology

Google Tours and Slides with novels

google slides and tour builder

I have mentioned before that I really love the Google Teacher Tribe podcast!  I have found two of my newest favorite Google uses for the classroom recently.  One is super LOW prep, and the other is definitely high prep, but I have two that you can already use (and I think it is worth the sweat required to make it!).

I have loved the idea of Pecha Kucha since I first read about it on the Creative Language Classroom blog.  I heard them mention it in conferences too, and I thought- I need to do that!  Pecha Kucha is a presentation style where people can only talk about each slide for 20 seconds.  So here it is probably 5 years later, and I am finally getting around to it.  (True story- while there are some things that I implement immediately, there are other things that I just sit on for awhile.  Just because I love an idea, doesn’t mean that I use it right away!)  My students have been reading a variety of novels.  So I made a blank slideshow in Google Slides and invited all students to collaborate on it- that’s it!  That was all of my prep!  Each student had about 5 minutes to find two pictures that represented some part of the book and include their name.

Then, they had to describe the picture and what was happening in the book in 30 seconds (I stretched it a little).  They did this in front of the whole class.  A few things that I did to keep it a BIT lower stress- if they finished early, I would ask them questions.  I also allowed them to stay in their seats if they preferred.  Finally, if they would rather talk with a friend, I allowed them to talk about one picture for a minute by alternating talking with a friend.  My smaller class was easier to do, but I think my longer class dragged a bit.  To help for next year, I want to have students write down two new words that they hear in each presentation.  Since I hope that hearing others on their level will help them remember words to incorporate into their own discussions about the book, this would be effective.

The next idea is to use Google Tours with novels!  (I had only heard about this for one year before using it- so a bit better on the implementation curve! 😉  I am using Bianca Nieves in level 2 and El Ekeko currently in level 1.  However, I am confident that you can find ways to incorporate this into many of the books!  (I wish that I had figured it out sooner for La Calaca Alegre.)  I figured out how to make these tours based on Jen’s super helpful post on Secondary Spanish Space.  Essentially, you can put pins down to create a tour of any part of the world.  Then, you can add pictures, links or videos to each “stop.”  You can also have students drag the little yellow person symbol to the screen and they will get an automatic street view!

I gave my students a handout to write on as they were exploring.  I believe that this is easier than trying to navigate back and forth between screens.  (Maybe because I am getting older??!)  You can see my example of the tour from Bianca Nieves including a trip to a bull farm and the city next door!  (I kept it all in the same town, but you could go to Madrid with the larger Plaza de Toros.)  Here are my guiding questions that I used.  Also, here is my tour for El Ekeko through La Paz.  The questions are linked here.

I would love to hear how you have used either tool!


Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: April 19, 2019

Brillante Viernes: April 19

Happy Friday!  I hope you are enjoying Spring Break if you have the time off!  We are lucky to have today off as a nice break before the end of the school year.  Not only that, but it is the 100th episode of We Teach Languages!  I got to record the beginning and ending of it!  Yayyyy!!!  It was really moving for me to listen to teachers talking about what an impact the podcast has had on them.  I feel very lucky to help and work with Stacey.  She is amazing and has dedicated so much time to the podcast!

I have definitely caught the interview bug!  I have interviewed Erin with Lead with Languages (and go to ACTFL headquarters and geek out!!), Kara Jacobs and Luis Deocares.  It has been fun to take time out of my week to just have a conversation with some of my favorite people about language teaching.  I also have recorded an episode with Heidi Trude that will come out soon.  I encourage you to submit your own episode to the podcast!  I always like to emphasize that everyone has something to contribute to the world language teaching community!

As you are catching up on your favorite podcasts, check out these posts, too:

  • I LOVE PearDeck- SpanishPlans blogged a great tutorial if you haven’t jumped in yet!
  • Allison wrote a great post about the AAPPL test with reflections and how she wants to prepare students next year.  As the Seal of Biliteracy becomes more viable for more people, I know more teachers are using this test.
  • I am saving all of these Maravillas posts to use in class!  This week Arianne shares some more!
  • I am always looking for better questions to ask students with feedback- these 10 questions should be incorporated by everyone!

Flashback time:


Posted in curriculum

Back to school week: Changes and curriculum

curriculum changes and plans

Welcome back to day 2!  Yesterday, I covered my plans for the first few days of school.  I wanted to cover some changes that I made with our curriculum this upcoming year:

One thing that I will be using next year in all of my levels is El Mundo en tus manos!  Martina and I will be producing it this year.  Many times, I put it out for FVR and other times, I find connections to what we are studying.  Then we will all read an article or articles to incorporate in class.  We have worked on the first free edition for this summer.  I also will be including other extension resources for you to use in your class.  Martina has all of the details here!

I am making some changes within my curriculum as well.  You can see my level 1 post here.  My biggest change for next year will be that we are switching from El Ekeko to La Familia de Federico Rico.  I had to decide on books before my class had finished reading El Ekeko, and I worried that it was going to be a little difficult for them.  In the end, it wasn’t, and I really enjoyed the culture that was embedded nicely throughout the book.  Also, it lead nicely to our end of the year IPA.

However, I am excited to use La familia de Federico Rico!  I really like the illustrations and that I can talk about them a la Señor Wooly’s graphic novels.  I plan on teaching La Familia during December.  I will then move Piratas to later in the year.  I will blog about my plans for this unit as I create it!

For level 3, I want to start with one of Señor Wooly’s graphic novels (Billy y las botas or La Casa de la Dentista!)  I have found that ALL students really find success with these graphic novels, and it will be a good place to jump off for novels later in the year.  I taught Billy y las botas in level 2, but I didn’t teach much of level 2 last year, so none of my students will have read it.

My overall goal for the year is that students will be able to talk about the world around them.  We have decided on Robo en la noche (past tense part).  Our first trimester (after the graphic novel) will be about the environment.  I definitely plan on picking up Carrie’s unit on Mar de plástico.

For the next unit, we will focus on current events.  In addition to El Mundo en tus manos, we will do a deeper dive into some of the current topics.  I want to start on some of the natural disasters that have been happening in Central and South America.  Then, I want to work in a unit on immigration.  I am teaching level 3 with another teacher, so we can discuss other topics that he wants to use in level 3.

Finally, we will be discussing entertainment and reading the book Santana.  During this unit, I want to work in a telenovela similar to El Internado.  This new series by Netflix called Élite looks promising!  For level 3, I am also working with another teacher.  I wanted to help by coming up with a general outline, but I want his input as we continue to develop the course.

For level 5, last year we used this schedule:  (Thank goodness for Kara Jacobs and her amazing units!)

So next year, I am making a few changes.  I am changing out Frida Kahlo for Kristy’s Vidas Impactantes.  It turned out that my curriculum covered A LOT of Mexico- Frida Kahlo, narcoviolencia and La Calaca Alegre which is about Mexicans who live in Chicago.  I wanted to change it, so I was looking at other countries as well.  After that book, we will do the Ecuadorian legends unit again and the newest lottery commercial.  Then, I will allow my students to vote again like previous years.  I give them a few units that I am interested in or others have developed units on!  We will see where my class goes.  I will also have to decide on another telenovela instead of El Internado as it is going off Netflix.  I really enjoyed doing De que te quiero te quiero a few years ago, and I am hoping to find a similar one this year.

For level 6, I am going to use the book Vector and Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.  I plan on having my students work on a passion project, but I am still figuring out the details.  I want to start with Vector then read Marina in winter.  I also want to continue to discuss a variety of cultural topics similar to level 5.  I appreciate input from my students to make sure that they are invested in the class.  It is also a blended class, so two days they will be working online and the other two days, they will be with me!

I hope this outline helps you as you are planning your upcoming classes!

Posted in Technology

GimKit! An amazing interactive game

Gimkit game

So evidently one of my awesome teacher friends (of the Medieval Bestiary Unit fame!) found GimKit and told me about it last week.  I maintain that I was gone during that part of the conversation, but we discussed it again Tuesday afternoon, used it Wednesday morning and had students acting like I had been holding out on them!  It was that good.  And I am also pretty much as obsessed as my students!  (And it was made by students and run by students which makes it that much cooler!)  Pardon my overuse of exclamation marks, but it really is that exciting.

It is an interactive quiz game similar (but better!) than Kahoot and Quizizz (and I will even say Quizlet Live!)  You can easily import your Quizlet sets into GimKit.  Then, you can set up the objective.  I LOVE how much you can personalize this part.  (Although I haven’t tried all of them because I wanted to get this post out to you so you can try it!)  Here are some of the settings:

  • You can have students work individually or in teams.
  • You can also set up how many players you have per team.
  • You can come up with a game goal.  You can have students race to earn enough money during a set time limit (that you create).  You can set a goal of money that all teams have to reach to finish the game.  You can also set the goal as a race that students are trying to reach in order to win.  Or you can do all in, where all of the teams race to earn a total money goal.


I will say that to experiment with my class, I started with a target of 1 million dollars in team mode.  They all reached it in about 30 minutes.  I am sure they would go faster in the future, but we were both figuring it out.

Then, they also have some of the regular settings from most games.

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 11.27.34 AM

Then the fun starts when you create a game!  Students join without an account by putting in the code into their computers.  I would use just laptops as one student had difficulty with his phone.

As students answer multiple choice questions based on the Quizlet set, they earn money for answering questions correctly and lose money for answering incorrectly.  Their money all goes into the same pot for the team mode, but the amazing thing is that they are ALL answering questions at their own pace.  They aren’t waiting for others to answer.  Also, if they answer questions correctly, they just get more questions.  They don’t feel the pressure to answer based on speed.  As individuals or teams earn more money, they can spend it on different things to help them earn more money.  Then students can try to buy more perks.  They can buy:

  • More money per question
  • Streak bonus (to earn more money after you answer two questions correctly)
  • Multiplier (every dollar in OR OUT gets multiplied!)
  • Insurance (you only pay out a certain amount when you get a question incorrect)

The fun part is that if they are in teams, they can use their total winnings to buy these perks.  So sometimes one student will buy something without consulting his or her team. 🙂

Overall, my students felt like they were really remembering these words well because it was going to quickly.  Also, the analytics after it are amazing!  Check out this list that I got after my first game based on the words in El Ekeko:

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 12.26.40 PM

I also can see individual student progress:

GimKit 4

I encourage you to try it!  You can only create 3 kits to store with the free version, but I think your students will love it.  My students and others have also commented that they felt like they were really learning the words.

Reference Page

Welcome to my blog!  I have been blogging for almost five years now, and I wanted to create this page for everyone who is new to my blog.  I teach using comprehensible input, and I assess with Integrated Performance Assessments (IPAs).  I also use novels to guide my curriculum.  If you are new here, I suggest starting with:

I also have been writing news articles every other week to be used in a high level 1 to level 2-3 classes (and up!)  You can find the category here with all of the PDFs in each post.

This year, I have used novels to help guide my curriculum.  I have used:

In addition, this is how I changed up whole class novels to make them work for me and a list of 21 activities that can be used for ANY novel.

If you are looking for beginning of the year activities, check out:

Finally, here is a list of over 100 authentic resources that I have used in my Spanish classes levels 1-3.

I am slowly adding resources to my Teachers Pay Teachers Page such as IPAs, journal prompts and videos where I explain various topics that I do in my classroom.  You can check it all out here!

This year, I will be presenting at:

Interested in contacting me (marisdemosthenes AT to present?  Here are some of my presentation topics that I have done in the past:

Posted in Review

Review: La estatua by Jeremy Jordan

Review of La Estatua

Although I wasn’t at ACTFL, one of my favorite Latin teachers was there, so of course I sent her a long list of new books to buy me to add to my FVR library.  I was so excited to see that Señor Jordan on YouTube has written a new book called La Estatua.  It is a brand new book, and I was hooked.  I loved it for many reasons:

  • The illustrations were great!  It would be easy to discuss the pictures alone if you were going to read it as a class.  You could also just put some up around the room to pique student interest before putting it into your FVR rotation.  When you get a new book in your library, make sure that you do a little “promotion” of the book.  You could easily copy a few pictures, do a picture talk of them and then add it to your library.
  • The Mexican culture embedded into the novel was great and felt natural.  One point, they have huevos rancheros.  I also appreciated how Lola refers to her father as Apá.  Jeremy also manages to discuss the weather patterns of Mexico without it seeming awkward.  The story also revolves around the story of chac mool and the myths around it.
  • I also felt like the language itself seemed more natural.  Since it was made for level 2, the words didn’t seem as repetitive.  Some of the Spanish readers that I have read rely upon a lot of cognates, but this book did not.  (Not that it didn’t seem comprehensible!  The word count is around 300 new words.)
  • As far as grammar, the story is predominantly in the present tense with some past tense scattered throughout the book.
  • I appreciate a new voice in comprehensible novels.  Just like with regular novels, some students will naturally drift to certain authors because they like the way that they write.  Jeremy’s voice provides an great addition to an already amazing cast of authors.  Plus, Jeremy is so popular with many students, so that may engage some reluctant readers.

I would say that the book is a bit scary, so if you have students who do not like scary books, I would be cautious.  As I have noted before, I don’t love scary books, but I wasn’t too scared.  For me, it was more engaging than scary.  I would not use it in Middle School unless I knew that I had a group of students who were really into scary stories.  You could easily use it in High School.  Also, another note, I have read El Ekeko, and I am planning on using it with my level 1 class at the end of the year.  I found some similarities with these two books.  I wouldn’t teach both in the same year; however, if you have a student who loves El Ekeko, I would buy this book as a great follow-up book.  (Same thing goes, if you have a student who loved La Estatua, I would encourage you to purchase El Ekeko to continue on a similar theme and for students to read during FVR.)  It would also be interesting to create literature circles with either book, and then have students compare and contrast the novels at the end.  I highly recommend adding this book to your library/class novel rotation!  Let me know if you have any questions about it.