About this blog

For many years, I was, and hope to be again, a full-time TPRS Spanish teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here, I have logged my work with my sixth-grade classes with their first novelita in Spanish: Agentes Secretos y el Mural de Picasso by Mira Canion. I reported our successes, failures, results, student responses, and anything else that came up. I, also, posted some things we did as they read their next novel, Piratas by Mira Canion and Carol Gaab. From time to time, I have veered from the reading theme and written about other foreign language acquisition topics–as is my custom.

If these topics interest you, please read the blog, ask questions, and comment. We’ll see how this goes!

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8 thoughts on “About this blog

  1. I appreciate your blog! Thanks for taking the time to write it. It made me notice the book Agentes Secretos. I went to Mira’s site and printed 4 copies of chapter 1 for my students to sample. About 20 of 24 students who looked at it today thought it was really good and said they’d be interested in reading the book if we had it. So I hope to pick up a couple on Amazon soon. Some thought it was too similar to Piratas. (People investigating a rumor and using clues to find something). Has that bothered your students at all?

    1. ¡Hola, Carla! Woo, hoo! Good to have here! Hope you brought your trench coat, sunglasses, and clipboard along for the Agentes Secretos ride.

      That is so funny that your students made that observation! I had not thought of it at all, but I suppose it is a bit true. However, the books are VERY different. Having worked with both (Agentes Secretos, just now), I believe that teaching AS y el Mural de P should come before Piratas. Piratas is really exciting with tons of plot twists and pirate action. AS is not the same. It is historical in a much more real way, with cities and customs that still exist today–much less fantasy than Piratas. I think if you teach them, AS first and Piratas second, you won’t hear that complaint. AS requires (my opinion) that the teacher get up to snuff on the historical period and places in order to fill out this book sufficiently to for it to “grab” your kids sufficiently. Piratas is a “grabber” all on its own. Just my opinion.

      Since my kids are starting with AS, they aren’t bothered by the contrast. We’ll see when we read Piratas. I don’t think it will happen.

      1. I always see things I should have said after I hit that “publish” button. Grr. Having said that I believe the teacher really needs to get up to snuff on the Spanish Civil War, etc., I want to add that this book, Agentes Secretos, is one of the easiest vehicles to use to infuse culture/history (very authentically and naturally) into your curriculum. They truly have a reason for knowing the background information. Seeing places that are in the book and understanding what was going on in history at the time become things that they really WANT to do, not just something I want them to do.

      2. Hi Jody,

        I’m dressed and ready! If the rest of the book is as intriguing as the first chapter, I may order a bunch. I’ve ordered 2 copies of the book and they should be arriving any time! Can’t wait. (I’ve just had 4 days off school due to bad weather though so they may come later than sooner…)

        I’m really interested in your blog because one of my goals for the year is to learn how to teach a novel and hook the students on reading. I can’t quite imagine how understanding the historical context of the book would draw the students in (in middle school history was my least favorite thing)… I’ll look forward to seeing how that works out on your blog.

        Thanks again for doing this!

  2. Would like to subscribe to this blog. What day did the novel start, so I can read past posts. Thanks this looks very helpful. I would like to try this with my 8th graders. See them 3 times a week for 45 minutes each. Do you think this would be enough time?

  3. Hi Doris

    Rookie here just found the “Subscription Widget” and put it on the blog. Hopefully, that will work for you! Yes, I do believe that the time you have will be enough. Each class and age group are different, but I think that it will work just fine.
    The first post for Agentes Secretos was November 15 I believe.
    Thanks for reading. Feel free to post questions and suggestions.

    1. Hi Martina
      This is always a difficult question to answer. No, they are not in their first year of Spanish in terms of the calendar year. They had Spanish last year (3.5 times a week and 1-2 times a week in 4th grade). They still don’t have Spanish every day, even in 6th.

      I have taught young kids, like these, and middle school (7th/8th) kids, too. Huge difference between the two groups. As Krashen has pointed out, “older is faster”. He is so very correct from my experience. The older they are, the faster they acquire.

      However, one thing my younger kids acquire better is “accent”. That is certainly corroborated by the brain research I have seen on the subject. My friend, Diane Grieman, who used to teach 7th/8th at our school, observed me occasionally and also noted how much longer it takes for the little ones.

      So, yes, these sixth-graders are in their first year of Spanish and no, they’re not. By the end of the year, they are sort of .75 to 1.25. All of my students, young and older, acquire much more since I started using tprs. That is true y punto.

      I enjoy your website very much, Martina. I am amazed your energy–such cool stuff on there!

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