Recently, I began an embedded reading in my Spanish 3 classes. I built the plan using a top-down approach, sort of. I decided that I wanted students to read the story, “The Lady or the Tiger” in Spanish (¿La dama o el tigre?). I taught the story in English while I was in Costa Rica, and I was very pleased with the opportunities for discussion and extension that it provided. The story was originally written in English by Frank Stockton (text here). I found one version online in Spanish. It was a bit long and complex for my liking. Even if I were to simplify and scaffold, it would take weeks to get to the final version. So, my first step was to create my own adapted version in Spanish to be my final text. Then, I was able to create a base text and fill in between. Here is what I’ve done so far (translated to English):
1. New vocabulary terms
Tenía que escoger (had to choose)
Él lo castigó (he punished him)
2. Personal questions
Using Power Point slides, I presented students with several questions based on the two terms.
-Describe a situation in which you had to choose.
-How were you punished as a child? (We discussed the use of “castigaba” here)
-How are you punished now?
-What’s the worst punishment a teen can receive?
I presented them with options and told them they “had to choose”.
-homework or going to the movies
-reading or cleaning a bedroom
-two local colleges
-friends to invite to a concert
-singing or playing a game in class
-your boyfriend being with someone else or being dead (in preparation for the story)
I presented a list of crimes and punishments and asked students if the punishment was fair or unfair. The last crime was a man who fell in love with the king’s daughter, and his punishment was to choose a door in an arena (again, leading into the story).
3. Intro to story
I showed a few images and talked about the story. A few students had read it in English.
4. Base reading with images
We read the base version with images to make it very clear and comprehensible. Then, I read the entire text without images. I circled a bit around the new structures and asked comprehension questions afterwards. Here is the text.
There was a cruel and strict king
He used to punish criminals in a stadium.
Each criminal had to choose a door.
Behind one door was a lady. Behind the other was a tiger.
A man fell in love with the king’s daughter and was captured.
The captured man had to choose a door in the stadium.
The king’s daughter knew where the tiger was.
The man opened a door.
I had actors play the parts of the king, his daughter, the man who fell in love, the lady behind the door and the tiger. We added some parts to the story, including other examples of criminals in the arena who committed various crimes and had to choose a door.
Very quickly, a few students translated the projected story into English. By this time, most students could have completed this step blindfolded.
The next step will be a quick review of the new structures and using textivate (textivate.com) and the smartboard to get a bit more exposure to the base reading. Then, we will jump into the second version. I often hear that the key to effective embedded reading is to focus on getting as much as possible out of the base reading. I believe we are achieving that goal so far with this story.