Wednesday, May 8, 2013

¿Más Zombis?

Zombies.  They are everywhere, I tell you!

So I came across this delightful little zombie picture story on Pinterest and a fellow Spanish teacher suggested it would be great to have the students tell the story that goes along with the pictures.  The picture is rather large, so you will have to click on it to see it in its full glory.

Telling stories with pictures has a long and rich tradition in the foreign language classroom because it allows us to communicate in the target language without having to resort to translation.  But there are some challenges to overcome when we want our students to speak in a more sophisticated way.

Some of the pitfalls of storytelling with pictures that I have seen over the years are, 1) The students seem to feel a need to put things into order with ordinal numbers.  This makes a story less interesting in my opinion, and it also invariably breaks down when the students forget what comes after primero y segundo . . .  2) They insist on using the present progressive tense.  Stories are most often told in the past tense - not in little tiny tidbits of present progressive encapsulated in a numbered sequence.

Perhaps the best way to deal with the situation is to remind the students about various transitions we can use in Spanish to make our writing and speaking more fluid.  Maybe we could even give them examples in their own language of how writing sounds better with transitions?  This sounds like a good way include language arts instruction with the lesson.  Maybe an English teacher would like to collaborate with you?

Here are some of my favorite transitions in Spanish:

  • al principio - in the beginning
  • Había una vez. . . - Once upon a time. . .
  • entonces
  • luego - then
  • más tarde - later
  • mientras tanto - meanwhile
  • mientras - while
  • pronto - soon
  • dentro de poco - soon, shortly
  • tan pronto como - as soon as
  • en cuanto - as soon as
  • finalmente - finally
  • por último - finally
  • por fin - in the end, finally

I thought I'd finish up with a couple of assignment ideas.  I've written the instructions in English.  There seem to be two camps of thought on whether instructions go in English or Spanish.  Though my heart tells me it should be all Spanish, my head lives in reality and knows that some of my students (especially those with special needs) the parents, and special needs case workers need the English translations.  If you are in the Spanish-only camp, feel free to translate the instructions.

Assignment: Tell the story that you see in the pictures.  Do not feel like you need to address every single photo individually.  Instead tell the story holistically.  Do not use the ordinal numbers (primero, segundo, tercero, etc.); use transitional words and phrases to move your story along.  Try to use at least five of them in your narrative.  Use the preterite tense to talk about the action that occurs in the story and use the imperfect for descriptions and ongoing situations (was/were "verbing").  Be prepared to share your story with the rest of the class.

More Fun: Do the story together as a class and generate the list of transition words together as a group.  Carefully highlight the use of preterite and imperfect as you go along.  (Maybe highlight the preterite in one color and the imperfect in another?)  Then, put the students into groups and let them create their own story together.  They should have 5-10 pictures in sequence when they are done.  Let them share their pictures and their story (En español, por supesto.) with the rest of the class.  Fun, right?  Just remind them that their story must be school appropriate.  

Hasta pronto amigos,



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