Getting started with novels- AP/IB/ACTFL Can-Do’s… You can do it all!

As you end the year and begin to requisition materials for the new year, I encourage you to consider reading novels in class. Whether a part of your silent reading library or as a full class novel study, having kids read a WHOLE NOVEL gives them a huge confidence boost as they prepare to move to the next level and tackle authentic literature.

How do I choose the novel that’s right for me? Start with a cultural topic you already know a lot about! You will be more confident teaching and supplementing the novel if you already have a passion for the topic! Some great novel themes (that tie in well to AP and IB themes) include
Environmental Issues and Ethical Questions- Robo en la Noche/Noche de Oro,
Family Structures, Alienation and Assimilation- Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha,
Human Rights, Language and Identity, Leisure and Sports Felipe Alou,
Nationalism and Patriotism, Leisure and Sports (bullfighting), Family Structures Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos,
Human Rights, Peace and War, Alienation and Assimilation Esperanza

Once you have a novel in mind, consider adding the Teacher’s Resource Guide. These guides are full of cultural information, performance based assessments, supplemental readings and slide shows… everything you need to feel successful teaching the novel in class!

Check out the ACTFL/NCSSFL Can-Do statements:

Which do you want to target and how can you use the novel to draw out those can-dos? In Robo in la noche, Mackenna travels to Costa Rica to work with her father in a bird sanctuary. It is the perfect setting for some travel can-dos! In Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos, Bianca’s father is a bullfighter. It is the perfect novel to work on can-dos that deal with asking for and depending opinions! What do your students think of the art/torture of the corrida? In Esperanza, the family is torn apart by the violence in Guatemala in the 80s. The focus on family makes it a great novel for tackling the family relationship can-dos!

No matter the curriculum you’re bound to, a novel is a great way to increase literacy, build confidence reading, and develop that important cultural foundation!

Visit , , and to find the right novel for your class!


TCI Training Video available online!

Thanks Martina for collecting all the links in one place! Don’t miss this post (or the video!)

The Comprehensible Classroom

If you missed the live EPC Show #15 this afternoon, have no fear! You can still access the content and engage with the presenters. View the hour-long iFLT15 preview on YouTube (click here), or check out its Google Plus event page to watch the archived show and read through the during and after-show Q&A (click here). You can continue to leave questions for Carol Gaab, Kristy Placido, Carrie Toth, and me on that page and we will do our best to check the page and respond!

If the Hangout left you feeling a little excited and a little overwhelmed, come to iFLT15 this summer. Each of us presented snippets from one of our sessions that are scheduled for iFLT, so you will have an opportunity to dig into each idea shared in a 60-90 minute workshop! iFLT will be an opportunity for new TCI…

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Spanish 1 speaking final

love this Pinterest pin!

For our speaking and writing they will tell me all about themselves with this mini book!!  The kids have all the culture stuff on the actual exam day so I thought this would be a low stress way to get them to talk about themselves and ask and answer questions! 


The presentations were outstanding!  They were so comfortable telling us all about themselves and the questions from the audience were great!  Having to ask and answer unprepared helped them feel really confident in what they can do at the end of a year of language study! 

Spanish 4 Final

I was looking for something that would challenge my seniors to think deeply and use the best language they can to apply language arts style thought to their presentational writing when I found this on Pinterest:

I used her ideas as a template and created a Spanish language version that focuses on what they need to do to reach higher levels of proficiency! 

I made this example and they went to work today!  

They will receive 3 grades on this exam.  Presentational writing, presentational speaking when they present their character to the class, and interpersonal speaking when they ask and answer questions about other students’ presentations!  Intermediate level students “can ask and answer questions on a variety of topics” so they have to prove they meet that expectation!!

Here is my example!  I’ll share theirs next week!  


The exam went so well on day one!  Students had to give the class a 2-3 minute summary of the conflicts their character faced and the ways their character changed and then classmates asked 3-5 follow up questions.  (Each student had to ask at least 3 different people 3 different questions). This part was my favorite because I love seeing the class come up with these insightful things to ask (and they are having a real conversation!!)