Preterite & Imperfect with a SOMOS story

A day and a half of notes (separated by a snow day) in Spanish 2 didn’t kill my CI classroom.

OK. So. CI/TPRS. I’m for that. I use SOMOS in Spanish 1 and 2. I do novels with er’body. This is my first year teaching Spanish 3 so I’m doing more SOMOS and doing novels (next year my 2s from this year will be farther along and I plan to do Carrie Toth’s units for Spanish 3 and 4 from now on) 

Real talk: doing one thing for a long time is not sustainable for me.

  • Too much SOMOS too many weeks in a row and I get burnt out and hate stories. And characters. And writing. And kids “cute ideas”
  • Too much Wooly and I stop making it about stories and the kids just zone out on nuggets.
  • Too many days on a novel and I end up just being like “ok so here’s what happens in this chapter” and I basically read the story in English (as if the plot is the point?!) instead of doing good CI with it.
  • Too much “old school” teaching is dumb and boring and I hate it.
  • Too much untargeted CI and I feel like I’m not a real teacher.
  • ….wait… have I just been giving completion points and participation points FOR TWO MONTHS OH GOD CONFERENCES ARE COMING UP WHAT DO I DO.

Being a baller CI teacher for like 6 days in a row makes me tired so then I show Alta Mar or Gran Hotel… with ENGLISH subtitles (gasp) to take a break. Throw in like 1000 snow days and… welp, I’m doing my best yall. 

So not to be a broken record, but a quick overview: I am a department of 1 in a tiny rural school in my 3rd year of building a program; so each year I add and plan a curriculum for a new level. Each year I make the other ones a little better. So it’s not like my 1s this year are doing the same thing that my 3s did when they were 1s. Ya? As such… rather than my 2s being a year behind my 3s… they’re actually only a few units behind my 3s because I’m getting better every year. ANYWAY. 

My 2s have been exposed to the past tense for a while. They saw it at the end of the Piratas novel, at the end of the Noches/Granada novel, in señor Wooly songs, in música miércoles songs, in El Mundo en Tus Manos every week… and more. This is my 9th year teaching but it’s my first time feeling accountable to the upper levels (since now IM THE ONE TEACHING THEM) rather than like “yolo I did my best – here ya go… now I’ll go back to teaching level 1.” So like… I’m pretty legit at using CI and TPRS with level 1 and most of level 2. But you start asking me to think about preterite, imperfect, subjunctive, conditional… and my brain explodes a little and I just refer back to how I learned….

But I’m TRYING to take my personality and my brain knowledge and my skills and sprinkle in what I’ve seen Carrie, Allison, Adriana do… (and other awesome brave amazing people who share videos online)

As usual I’m like… a page into this blog post and haven’t even SHARED WHAT IT IS THAT I’M DOING. Sheesh señora, get it together.

So – Here we are. 2nd semester Spanish 2. We just finished SOMOS 1 Unit 13 (piropos/chico del apartamento 512). After finishing that unit and taking a day to watch Alta Mar and another day off as a snow day, we took notes about preterite and imperfect, referring back to things we’d seen before. I took these notes under the document camera in a notebook that the kids are suppooossseeddddd to keep for all 4 years of Spanish with me. But… ya know. Kids. These notes are inspired by more detailed grammar notes I used to use in my “legacy methods” days. Photo of those notes:

Then we pasted an illustrated (by moi) version of the Chico de 512 story into the notes with the plan to rewrite the story in the past tense the following day. And THAT, mis amigos…. is what we have here. VIDEO TIME!

And here are the posters I have up that I just kinda point at as we go. 

So… I have no idea if this is the best way to do things, but it’s worked for me so far. Point out and help them notice the past tense through comprehension questions and novels and songs and stuff for over a year… then do a quick explicit grammar day… then we’ll be starting Nuevo Houdini (past tense) in April where they will straight-up dive into it for a few months. I’ll be able to just point at the posters or stand in front of them and have something to refer back to as we go on.

30 minutes of notes on one day and 20 minutes of explicitly instructing through a story isn’t the WORST………. Right???

OPE – and here is the funny video I promised to share with my students at the end of the lesson.


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