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House on Mango Street

Spanish IV

   Perhaps one of the most difficult things to continue to do in the classroom is to reach and teach the highest level of students. An inquisitive curriculum will stimulate students' interests. Proper use of House on Mango Street is an ideal way to achieve this goal.

   This book is about a Hispanic girl's childhood. Esperanza discusses her family, friends, and school with wonderful detail. Issues that she deals with can at times seem culturally narrow and others a broad view of American society. It is extremely rich in ideas that connect to students today. Feeling like an outcast for many different reasons: hair, social class, and school.

   Choose the Spanish version if your primary purpose is to read literature in Spanish. Otherwise choose the English version if your main goal is to write and speak in Spanish. It is very difficult to mix both and achieve optimum results in the time constraints of a teaching year. Here reading the English version is discussed. Spend half of your class time each day on this novel. More than that makes the class feel just like English class; whereas, less than that drags the book out much too long.

   House on Mango Street offers a new direction with each of its short chapters. At the Spanish IV level give the students two to three chapters to deal with per day. Have them read the chapters aloud as a whole class, other days have them read in groups, and on others have them read individually. You could also mix and match these ideas.

   Come up with at least three words of vocabulary from each chapter. At this point you have the chance to increase students vocabulary outside of a preformed list. Choose challenging adjectives, not often found types of people, and environment words. Working with an overhead projector or Smart Board makes this an easy task. By typing the vocabulary and questions in a text document you can bring up the work quickly and have students use their notebooks to record the vocabulary and their short responses. Encourage students to make logical guesses to the vocabulary definitions before looking the words up in their dictionaries. By this time they should be able to make the associations you have strengthened in them.

   Lastly follow the tried and true rule for writing on each chapter: reflection and real life connections. Students should be able to write at least three sentences in complete on these type of topics in all Spanish. Once again post your questions on the overhead or Smart Board along with the vocabulary. Each chapter should have two questions. First ask about a specific theme revealed in the chapter. Second the students should answer a real life connection question. For example there is a chapter in the novel dealing with different hair types of the family. The first question could be: "What hair type did each member of the family have?". The second question could be: "How does your hair compare to those of your family?".

   Working with literature in the classroom not only gives you ample opportunity to teach reading and writing skills in Spanish but also the chance to teach students to reflect upon their own lives. Therefore you meet the needs of your students and help to increase the state scores to which all schools must strive. 

 

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