Novel Review and Conversation Practice

My Spanish 1 classes finished Brandon Brown quiere un perro last week, and this week we are gearing up for a final assessment of the novel following the interpersonal speaking and presentational writing that Allison describes here. Last week, we played some games to review the novel and make sure everyone was really clear on the important details. Today, like most Mondays, we learned a new song, and even if that hadn’t taken a big chunk of time, I still wouldn’t have wanted to start our assessment on a Monday.

Last week, to review the novel, we played a whole-book Kahoot quiz that the kids did really well on. I had them play as a team with their new groups (in classic mode because the quiz was pretty easy for them).

The next day, I had the groups work together to make a list of the top ten most important events in the story, then as a class we listed the top fifteen most important events. I typed them into a Google Doc and we did a blind retell to summarize and review the events one more time. I was really pleased with this activity overall – the groups worked together well, with my natural leaders taking charge but generally not monopolizing conversation, and the blind retells went extremely well. As a time-filler activity for my high flyers, I had an info gap activity prepared for pairs to work on while other groups were still retelling. I gathered several different pictures of boys with dogs, printed several copies, and had the kids describe and ask questions to determine whether their pictures were the same or different (they were randomly chosen, so either was possible), and write a list of ten differences or items that were the same to prove that what they thought was true.

I felt like the kids were pretty solid on the events and major details of the novel, even those who may have missed a day of reading had had ample opportunity to catch up on what they missed, so I didn’t want to beat a dead horse by doing more novel review today, but since I also didn’t want to jump right into the assessment, it seemed logical to have them practice conversations. I gave the kids a little “quality control” guide, which I believe is an idea I adapted from Carrie Toth (and for some reason I feel like Colleen has done a version of this, too, but I can’t find it).

I talked briefly (in English) about the different categories, gave some examples, explained that, yes, it is somewhat subjective, but the idea is just to get you thinking about what you do in conversation and push you to do more. I told them I would give them about 10 minutes to talk and asked them to set a goal, and then let them go. After that, I floated around, chimed in now and then, and generally just listened. My explanations got better as the day went on, but overall I was very pleased. I heard everyone talking, although I did have to prompt some of my quieter students a couple of times. I got a bit of a preview at their conversations for the rest of the week, was able to give a few pointers, and I think the kids are generally feeling more comfortable and confident now, too.

On the reflection side – several students did say that they felt having this little half sheet in front of them helped them realize that they had been living in general statement land before, and they felt that it helped them push themselves to follow up and ask appropriate questions more frequently, which I definitely consider a win.

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