Teaching the novel Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha Chapter 5

Another great chapter! You should get this novel! And the TG has all of the essentials! These activities are not meant to replace the materials that accompany the guide, they’re meant to compliment it!

Today began a two day look at chapter 5, “My first mission.” We looked at the chapter’s symbol, a gun, and discussed what the narrator’s mission might be, then we read the chapter together. We do not translate word for word, we circled some new vocabulary like “Me acuerdo de” and “tiene la culpa” and we did a great subjunctive pop-up with the line “quiero que tomes la pistola.” TPRS style I built the difficulty level of the pop-up questions by asking what “quiero que bailes” might mean and then “if hablas is you talk, how do you say I want you to talk?” They caught the pattern very quickly and had no trouble coming up with I want you to eat and I want you to drink on their own. Less than a minute, very little English, still getting some grammar instruction in! (My inner grammarian likes that.)

After reading the chapter, we did this speaking assessment:
Conversation Circles ch 5

1. I copied half as many papers as I had students.
2. (My kids already sit at tables of 4) I gave two papers to each group of 4 students.
3. I explained that we would be doing a speaking assessment and that their goal was to use as much Spanish as they could in order to sustain the conversation for the entire 3 minutes. They are familiar with the proficiency levels and understand that being able to use detail and sustain a conversation are important to moving through the intermediate level.
4. I looked at the instructions with students and paired them off for round 1.
5. Students spent 3 minutes discussing the first conversation circle: What do you know about the narrator’s parents?
6. I set a 2 minute timer and student pairs took notes on their first round conversations. It is a handy reference when I sit down to assign them grades.
7. I told students to work with a different person at their table for round 2 and we repeated the process with the new topic: What do you know about the narrator’s initiation and first mission? I followed again with a 2 minute timer.
8. Students worked with the final group member for round 3. We repeated the same process with the topic: What do you know about Gustavo and Pedro? One last 2 minute timer to finish up the note sheet!
9. I collected the papers for my reference as I grade. I am using my simplest grading rubric, a 5 point one, for 5 points students must participate actively, use only target language, and refer to current content. If they lapse into English or fail to participate fully, I warn them but they also know that this costs them one point. I circulate throughout listening to all groups, the great thing about 3 timers is that you have plenty of time to hear everyone one on one and can always look like you’re listening to EVERYONE at once if you master the look around but listen to the closest group! 🙂

Enjoy! As always, you’re welcome to use the activity and please give credit when you share!

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