Our school has a site license for Achieve3000, an absolutely incredible online resource designed to improve students’ literacy skills. As a Title I school, it is an important component of our language arts program, but all teachers were trained on how to use it with the hope that it would be incorporated into all curriculums to maximize its efficacy.
In a nutshell, students can use it to read articles on all sorts of topics–sports, world news, science, the arts…you name it. When students first log on, they are given a reading test to determine their reading level. Each article is available to be read at 12 different levels, and are provided to each student at his or her own tested reading level. There is a short quiz available for each article, and once a student gets 100 percent on a certain number of quizzes in a row (I forget how many), the program automatically bumps them up to the next reading level. It’s fantastic!
But what does this have to do with Spanish? ALL ARTICLES ARE ALSO WRITTEN IN SPANISH!! At all levels! My students can actually take the reading test in Spanish and go through the same process. It’s amazing, and especially wonderful for my native speaker students that need to develop their literacy skills.
The only problem with this is that, even at the pre-literate level, there are many words that my students do not know. For example, the word “payaso” is a word that any Spanish-speaking child would have learned, and it is simple to read, so it would be included in pre-literate texts. However, my beginning students would have no reason to have learned that word because it’s not high-frequency. What I have ended up doing most often, therefore, is using Achieve3000’s articles as a starting point. I edit them to make them comprehensible for my students, and I look up the original article to bring in more information that I can use. It’s also a great way for me to see examples of embedded readings, because that is essentially what their levels are: the pre-literate text is incredibly basic–both in vocabulary and content–but the most advanced level is very rich in both (great for AP classes!).
I’m not sure how much a subscription costs (probably a lot), but it is worth looking into. The great thing is that the English classes at your school will be able to use it even more than you can, I’d assume, and it’s easier to sell something if it benefits core classes. There are a bazillion other features of the program (including a writing component, vocabulary activities, and data collection/tracking), but it would take forever to write about them in detail, and that’s what sales reps are for 🙂
Check it out!!