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?