Mouse in the house!

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As luck would have it, mice began to seek shelter from the harsh Alaska winter just a few weeks before midterms back in 2012. I saw them everywhere! Running across my kitchen counters, scampering along the walls of my living room, and dashing under the shelves each time that I opened my garage door. Since I was planning to use Rodrigo Blaas’ short film “Alma” as the basis for my Spanish II midterm exam, recounting the terrifying experience of discovering and addressing the mouse infestation in our home was the perfect way for me to tell my woeful tale and help my students acquire structures that they would need in order to be successful on the midterm. I call that a Spanish teacher win!

I told the story to my students with great emotion, and they were hanging on the edge of their seats (well, most of them, anyway). It of course helped that I showed students photos of each of the dead mice: gross! That being said, it is not your story and it won’t feel authentic for you to tell it to your students as if it were. For that reason, I typed up the story for your students to read as they would any other text in your class. Since you won’t be telling the story orally as I did, increasing repetitions of the structures through circling and comprehension checks and personalizing it, I recommend introducing the key vocabulary for this story to your students with some good old fashioned PQA before giving them the reading. The structures in this story that students will need to be successful on the Alma exam are “estantes” (shelves) and “había” (there was/there were), but “puso” (s/he put) is also a target structure in this story. The story also recycles many target structures that we had targeted throughout the semester (like “me acerqué a” and “vi que había” from Unit 2 of my Spanish II curriculum). Some easy questions to discuss with your students that will serve as hooks for the story are:

  • Were there [mice/scorpions/spiders/snakes] in your house last year?
  • Where in your house did you see them?
  • What did you do/how did you react when you saw them?
  • How many [mice/scorpions/spiders/snakes] were there?
  • How did you catch them? *try to find a student that used traps!
  • Did you put traps [in the closet/on the shelves in the pantry/on the floor in the basement]? *try to find a student that put traps on shelves!
  • Did you put traps [in the closet/on the shelves in the pantry/on the floor in the basement]? *try to find a student that put traps on shelves!

The great thing about this TRUE story is that it is filled with natural repetition, and so by simply reading it, students will have many comprehensible repetitions of the target structures. If you follow it up with some story activities (like the ones found in my blog archives), students will acquire the structures even if you don’t spend time before the story doing PQA.

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Click on image to download reading

You can download my terrifying tale here, and if anyone would like to translate it into a different language, just email me to request an editable version.

If you are looking for more resources for Spanish II, be sure to check out this Ricitos de Oro (Goldilocks) reading that I finally formatted and uploaded yesterday. I always gave the printable booklet to my students as a just-for-fun reading after we finished Unit 2, but I added a bunch of comprehension activities so that you can use it as an actual lesson if you want.

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Click on image to access Ricitos de Oro reading

Well…it’s 9:14pm on New Year’s Eve here in AK, and since my husband is sick and my kids are in bed…I’m going to sit here at my computer to see just how close I can get to finishing my 2015 resolution of going paperless. I love my life 🙂

6 comments

  1. This is the cutest thing ever! Thanks for sharing your stuff so generously. You have no idea how many students are getting a more effective and enjoyable language experience because of you.

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  2. We had a couple of mice enter our house one winter, and a pregnant one made a nest and gave birth to many little mice in my son’s soccer bag, where he had left a bunch of snacks he had packed for a soccer tournament. Your post made me remember that crazy time. Thanks! 🙂

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  3. I tried my hand at writing my story AND using Evernote, since you recommend it so much and I don’t know how to use it. I sent it to you, with some trepidation. 🙂

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  4. Hi Martina, First—- glad you survived the earthquake I use many of your materials. I Purchased Amigo Simpatico last year. I did a wall walk with the PDF slides but I seem to remember a srudent response sheet I cannot find now. Can you send it to me? Just the response checklist… What would I do if???? I eould really appreciate it. Plus, now that you have invluded it in a unit, does one have to repay if the old stuff gets midplaced? Make it a great day!

    >

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